Monthly Lecture: “Uraiyadal Kadithangal” & Book Release: “Krithika”

Prof. M. Anandakrishnan Endowment Lecture Series

“Uraiyadal Kadithangal”
(Lettered Dialogue)
Shri. K. R. A. Narasiah

Lecture will be followed by the launch of
a monograph authored
by A. Mangai and published
by Sahitya Akademi

Roja Muthiah Research Library

Summary of the talk
Between the two of them, Krithika (Mathuram Bhoothalingam) and Chitti (P. G. Sundararajan) exchanged correspondence over four decades regularly from 1955 till the turn of the century. The letters speak for themselves and provide an insight into the happenings around them in various fields, such as art, politics and literature. The letters were kept in order from both sides and they were compiled together by Mathuram Bhoothalingam that she treasured. It was the idea of both of them when the author of the book Lettered Dialogue K. R. A. Narasiah met them in early 1990s that the letters could be selected, compiled and with commentary could be published. However the task could be accomplished only in 2011, due to the concerted efforts of Mina Swaminathan daughter of Mathuram Bhoothalingam. Narasiah, a nephew of Chitti Sundararajan completed the task after working on it for more than two years. The book was launched in April 2011 by Gopalakrishna Gandhi, former Governor West Bengal.

About the Correspondents
Mathuram Bhoothalingam (Krithika) was the wife of a senior Civil Servant, who served in the years on either side of independence and took the name Krithika to write short stories, novels and plays in Tamil. She soon became an eminent Tamil literary figure, known for writing on themes that created waves. In the years soon after Independence, she wrote incisively on the contemporary scene where officialdom and politicians played roles significantly different from what they had in the early years of the Freedom Struggle.

During her Delhi years, Mathuram as a fly on the wall, could observe, unobtrusively, the social world formed by senior bureaucrats, politicians, and business people, along with a few artists, writers, journalists and other intellectuals . Slowly, Krithika withdrew from the Tamil literary scene and, as Mathuram Bhoothalingam, began to write in English. She honed her writing skills in English by writing for children and for the traveler searching for India’s past. These were well researched books that enabled her to get the feel of communicating in English simply and easily.

Sundararajan (Chitti) was born the day Halley’s comet appeared in 1910. He joined the All India Radio on contract, editing Vanoli and writing humorous skits for the Radio. However his first published story was in English. He chose to be a critic before he joined the AIR, wrote in magazines dealing with cinema successfully. Va Raa, the revolutionary writer, was responsible for launching Chitti as a Tamil writer in the avant-garde magazine Manikodi.

Chitti and Krithika began to correspond, a process of exchange in written communication that lasted forty years! Chitti’s letters were evidently objective and critical of whatever ideas or creative projects she had in view. In her own words they whetted and polished her themes and structures without either of them being conscious. In fact Chitti feels that her open appreciation of Chitti’s literary criticism laid the foundation for his later works on Short stories and Novels of Tamil.

K R A Narasiah, an award winning writer in Tamil writes also in English and has selected and given commentary to the letters. In this task he was assisted by Mrs. Mina Swaminathan.

About the Speaker
After completing his early education Mr. K. R. A. Narasiah became a marine engineer and sailed in the naval vessels for ten years and, later, for three years in the merchant navy. He joined the port of Visakhapatnam in 1965 and retired in 1991 as its Chief Mechanical Engineer. He was invited by the World Bank as a consultant for the emergency rehabilitation in Cambodia. He was also a consultant to the Asian Development Bank.


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