ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)

- Memoir - The Manure Pit -

[Alige Sannayya Nayaka]

I often wrote to Sri Kuvempu asking him to come and see Hirekodige, the place where he touched the mother earth first. I also wrote to him that aside the Hirekodige that he relished and revelled during his childhood, he has to see the Hirekodige of today that looks like the ruins of Hampi. I was anxiously waiting for the moment of arrival of the epic poet. Once, Kuvempu had come to the house of Rathnakara, his brother in law. Rathnakara wrote to me, as was his practice, inviting me to his house. He wrote, 'Putta Bhava (elder brother in law-Puttappa) has come. Do come over.' I went there and invited Kuvempu to Hirekodige. The next day Kuvempu, Venkatesh, Rathnakara, D.T. Chandrashekar and Nagesh came. We all together went to HireKodige to see the place of Kuvempu's birth. The garden that once belonged to maternal uncle of Kuvempu is now under the control of Venkatarama Bhatta. The house of Kuvempu's mother had flattened. We first went to Venkatarama Bhatta's house and then into the garden. The garden was well maintained. Kuvempu felt happy looking at the garden and said, 'I don't know whether my own maternal uncle would have maintained this garden so well. These have kept it well. I am very happy.'

The house where Kuvempu was born is in ruins and it lay towards a side of the garden. In that, now there is a manure pit also. Kuvempu saw all that and asked, 'Where is my birth place here?'

'This is the place you touched this earth first' I showed him the manure pit. (In fact that was the place where Kuempu's Mother gave him birth). Kuvempu burst into laughter, held his palm to his forehead and said, laughing, Ayyayyo! Did I take birth in this manure pit, gentleman? True, he was laughing, but I was crying.

We then walked through the garden. Looking at a coconut palm that was familiar to him Kuvempu began to laugh clamorously. Struck with curiosity and wonder I asked him why. The conversation went on like this:

Kuvempu: This tree is laughing at me.

I: Why?

Kuvempu: It is laughing because, it says, 'See this man I used to watch as a young boy. He roamed about here, urinated at my foot, and played doing this and that. Now he has come to me as an old man with his hair turned grey. I am still like how I was then.

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