Renowned Malayalam poet and environmentalist Sugathakumari spent her entire life for literature and nature and has her own concepts about her funeral. She opened up her heart in an exclusive interview with Mathrubhumi correspondent S. N. Jayaprakash.
A banyan tree is the last wish for poet Sugathakumari. She has written in her will where it should be planted. At the rocks behind ‘Abhaya’ which she formed at Peyad in Thiruvananthapuram for the destitute people and mentally unstable persons. Nothing should be engraved on the tree and her ashes should not be placed there. Let the birds eat the red fruits of the banyan tree.
Time is nearing
The interview happened after Sugathakumari told that she wanted to disclose something to Mathrubhumi exclusively. When asked why she started thinking about death and funeral, she opened up her mind.
“I think my time is nearing. I had a second heart attack recently. It was unexpected and came without any symptoms or signs. That was so severe and I experienced the pain of death. I felt like a big rock was hitting deep into my chest. I did not fully recover from it. I called M. T. Vasudevan Nair recently. He also is weak.”
Sugathakumari teacher has some wishes to be fulfilled. Though she is sure that she cannot make it, she shared them.
“I wish I could visit Silent Valley once again. Also I wish to go to Krishna Vanam in Attappady. We made that forest in the name of N. V. Krishna Warrier. Sometimes tribal women call from there and tell me that there is water, fruit and all. But they are afraid of wild buffaloes. That means it has become a dense forest now."
Dreams ensnarled in red tape
The poet’s one dream is still trapped in government’s red tape.
“I wished to set up 5-6 rehabilitation centres for the mentally unstable people here. They should be run by the local bodies and panchayats under the initiation of the government. But nothing happened. I contacted minister K. K. Shailaja and health department secretary Rajeev Sadanandan. A day home for taking care of the mentally unstable and aged people during morning hours, short-term homes as a temporary shelter and long-term shelters for lifetime care.
‘Abhaya’ had moved court and reopened mental hospitals after 150 years. The life condition of the patients improved thus. They received better care and food. But the doctors asked me, ‘Why should laymen interfere?’
Only naxalites with K. Ajitha and Gandhians in Kozhikode Gandhi Griham supported us. No political parties helped us as they think mentally unstable persons who do not have the right to vote may be beneficial.
Strikes for nature
Malayalis have no respect for anything. They think that following rules is something bad. An educated community should not be like this. Once a person shared with me an experience. He was paying tribute to the dead ancestors in Thirunavaya and found many hibiscus flowers flowing in the river. He looked closely with wonder and realised that they were chopped heads of roosters.”
Did nothing for family
I have said everything I have and only a very few persons paid heed to it. 90 percent of them did not listen. I could not do justice to my husband and daughter. I did everything for the society and only very little for my family. But I could serve my siblings well. My activities were not intended for awards and honours. If I could wipe the tears of a helpless girl, I am satisfied. That only I wanted.
My younger sister Sujatha too passed away. She was 12 years younger than me. She stayed here to look after me till death. When she left me, I also feel like leaving the world as early as possible. I have collected her poems which she was planning to burn. Mathrubhumi has agreed to publish them. She had published some poems in Mathrubhumi under a pseudonym.”
Straightforward in life
I have told the right answers to any person despite their position. So I could not be the favourite of anybody. Once Zacharia called me a secret advocate of RSS. I replied by publishing a poem in Mathrubhumi weekly; ‘I have only two teachers’ – Swami Vivekanandan and Gandhiji.
Fortunate to live here
I am lucky to have my parents (poet and freedom fighter Bodheswaran and Prof. V. K. Karthyayani Amma) and sisters (Prof. Hridayakumari and Sujatha). They had different personalities. So was the case with my husband (late Dr. K. Velayudhan Nair). I could not have done anything without his support.
Grateful to all
“I am grateful to the love and trust all gave me. My thanks to the sun, soil, shade and grains for feeding me. I will come again in this earth in my next life.”