A peep into the collector’s soul of Veerendra Kumar
Kozhikode: Vinod Krishnan T Y, Associate Programme Co-ordinator of ‘CREST’ has this fragrant memory of how M P Veerendra Kumar paid tribute to a fellow writer. The year was 1996. ‘Mathrubhumi Granthavedi’ was the publisher of his father, K Balakrishna Kurup’s work, ‘Aarshabhuumiyilae Bhogasidhi.’
After the release function in ‘Mathrubhumi Central Book Stall,’ graced by the great scholar Vidyavachaspati V Panoli and the writer Unnikrishnan Puthur; the then Chairman & Managing Director of the publishing house gifted his dear friend Kurup with a priceless Sheaffer fountain pen with golden parts.
Vinod revealed that it was on the insistence of Veerendra Kumar that his father took to writing the authentic work on the mystic art of Tantra. He also recollected how his father acquiesced in the then central minister Veerendra Kumar’s request to tour the Himalayas in the latter part of 1990s. Puthur also accompanied them. The experience is recounted in detail in Veerendra Kumar's ‘Haimavathabhoovil’.
The bibliophile in Veerendra Kumar is known to many. But not many are aware of his keen interest in pens and watches. The world-traveller made it a point to collect these items too along with books in the course of his business trips both in India and abroad. He went to great lengths to purchase brands from their countries of origin, apart from having a keen eye for limited editions. For this purpose he would frequent exclusive boutiques and show rooms, setting apart time from his packed schedule.
Not being content with just possessing such a valuable collection, Veerendra Kumar also took great pains in taking care of these and preserving them. A portion of his home library in Puliyarmala, Kalpetta, was kept apart for these items. He took particular delight in going over his collection for the benefit of visitors, who would be regaled with stories around each item. Veerendra Kumar would tell visitors that he possibly inherited this trait from his father, Padmaprabha, who boasted of a treasure trove of precious stones in his lifetime.
Veerendra Kumar was also a photography enthusiast. His most proud possession among world-class cameras was the Swedish-made Hasselblad, which he had bought during one of his trips to Europe. Wildlife and historical photography appealed to him. His love for nature saw him underwriting the cost of many photographic exhibitions both in Kerala and even outside the state.
When the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Vietnamese-American photographer Nick Ut toured Kerala in 2018 Veerendra Kumar graciously hosted him in the Thiruvananthapuram office. After an animated conversation that covered a host of subjects, he was off the iconic guest with a memento from the house of ‘Mathrubhumi.’