On a per­sonal note with au­thor and poet Jayant Kaikini

Au­thor, poet, lyri­cist

Governance Now - - CONTENTS - As told to Gee­tan­jali Min­has

Jayant Kaikini was re­cently hon­oured with the Atta Galatta-blf Prize and Life­time Achieve­ment Award Kan­nada for 2018. Born in Gokarna in Kar­nataka, Kaikini is one of the prom­i­nent young writ­ers in Kan­nada. He is also a poet, play­wright and lyri­cist and re­ceived the Film­fare Award for the best lyri­cist in 2009. Your first Kar­nataka Sahitya Akademi award was when you were 19. Tell us about your lit­er­ary jour­ney.

it is good to have chicken pox early in life so that your im­mu­nity builds up! so get­ting an award early was good for me. it re­as­sured me and i felt free to write the way i was writ­ing. com­ing from a small sea­side tem­ple town of gokarna…my child­hood was full of ex­otic sounds and faces. When i moved to big­ger towns, home­sick­ness and trauma of shift from Kan­nada medium to English medium pushed me to find so­lace in read­ing, writ­ing and ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties. Hid­ing un­der lit­er­a­ture i found a new me!

What does writ­ing mean to you?

it is an ab­sorb­ing and lib­er­at­ing jour­ney. it is like learn­ing to swim and cross­ing the river si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Yash­want chit­tal, a Kan­nada writer, said, “i don’t write what i know. i write to know.” it ap­plies to peo­ple like me too.

Your fa­ther was a well known writer, did he in­spire you?

My fa­ther gour­ish Kaikini was a rad­i­cal hu­man­ist. He taught in a school but was a teacher to the so­ci­ety through his writ­ings. He wrote about ev­ery­thing he thought was es­sen­tial for a man to evolve as a bet­ter be­ing – be it mu­sic, the­atre, aes­thet­ics, sci­ence, lit­er­a­ture. He wrote in Kan­nada, Marathi and San­skrit. He was the first to write about Marx­ism in Kan­nada. I didn’t read him much then but I am deeply in­flu­enced by his pas­sion for life.

You have a masters in bio­chem­istry. How has sci­ence in­flu­enced your out­look?

sci­ence and art are not sep­a­rate. Lit­er­a­ture and med­i­cal sci­ence have much in com­mon. Both try to un­der­stand hu­man pain and tur­moil and try to re­duce it. Writ­ten po­etry is like elec­tro­car­dio­gram of a so­ci­ety and time. The ar­ti­fi­cial divi­sion of arts and sci­ence in ed­u­ca­tion is un­fair and has cre­ated havoc.

Af­ter ex­per­i­ment­ing with other for­mats, do you plan to write a novel?

i am a rest­less soul and al­ways in a hurry to share what i have at­tempted. novel writ­ing re­quires a lot of dis­ci­pline, pa­tience and in­ner calm to stay with your char­ac­ters and sit­u­a­tions for a long pe­riod with­out shar­ing it with any­one. it is my dream to pen a novel.

You have trans­lated a lot of plays and es­says. Can trans­la­tions cap­ture the essence of the orig­i­nal?

Trans­la­tions done by me are more adap­ta­tions than lit­eral trans­la­tions. I call them ‘roopan­tar’, not ‘anu­vaad’. The trans­la­tor has to be a good writer in the lan­guage in which he is trans­lat­ing. Trans­la­tion is a thank­less virtue.

Your views on pre­serv­ing the her­itage of re­gional lan­guages?

We must ask our­selves whether we want our her­itage to be a ‘gar­den’ or a ‘mu­seum.’ Mu­se­ums are dusty, gloomy and frozen whereas gar­dens bloom and breathe. I think we must make gar­dens of our her­itage by mak­ing it more friendly and sen­si­tive in its ex­pres­sion to the new gen­er­a­tion. Mu­se­ums are scary. chil­dren don’t like them.

Mumbai has in­spired many writ­ers in dif­fer­ent ways. How do you look at this unique city?

Mumbai is an amaz­ing, lib­er­at­ing space. It has a non-judg­men­tal col­lec­tive mind of its own. This non-fussy city speaks in a lan­guage which is a lev­eler. it never uses re­spec­tive plu­ral. It uses ‘tere ko’ and ‘mere ko’ across the lev­els. An au­towalla re­turns the ex­act change even at mid­night. due to space con­straints Mumbai by de­fault cel­e­brates min­i­mal­is­tic liv­ing, which is ac­tu­ally spir­i­tual, i.e., no space to hide or show off. only Mumbai al­lows my char­ac­ters, sit­u­a­tions or images to be what they are.

Your ad­vice for good writ­ing

Get lost… let your story or poem find you.

Photo cour­tesy: jayant kaikini

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