By Murali Krishnan
A spirited campaign by a blog site has forced Karnataka governor T.N. Chaturvedi to intercede on behalf of hundreds of bloggers to seek recognition for celebrated author R.K. Narayan on his birth centenary this year.
Churumuri.wordpress.com, one of the fastest growing weblogs, ran a week-long campaign to secure the master storyteller his place in Mysore where he spent much of his writing life.
Best known for his collection of short stories based on the people of a fictitious place, Malgudi, Narayan's birth centenary falls this year. Residents of Mysore were amazed to learn through the campaign that there was not a single cenotaph to perpetuate the forefather of modern Indian fiction.
Narayan, who wrote more than 15 novels, was born on October 10, 1906, and died at the age of 94. He was a close friend of the late British author Graham Greene, who is said to have described him as one of the greatest contemporary writers in English.
"So we ran a campaign and the suggestions thrown up by readers were amazing. What we did was to take all the proposals to the governor who promised to intervene and see that something is done in this centenary year," Krishna Prasad of churumuri told IANS.
The requests by readers were diverse. Some suggested naming a prominent road, walkway and circle after him and even the setting up of a walk-through "Miniature Malgudi" on the University of Mysore campus, alive with Narayan's characters, to perpetuate his memory.
The other suggestions included setting up of a museum, along with a replica of his study, in the university or the setting up of a scholarship in the English department.
But by far the best suggestion has been the naming of any one train connecting Karnataka and Tamil Nadu - since Narayan lived in both states - as "Malgudi Express".
"The governor promised to act soon considering the overwhelming response to the campaign, and also recognising and rewarding a true son of Mysore who took its name far and wide into the hearts of millions of readers on every continent," said historian Ramachandra Guha, who led the delegation. "I am sure something will work out soon," he said.
Besides Guha, the delegation included photojournalist T.S. Satyan and writers Sunaad Raghuram and Krishna Prasad who presented to Chaturvedi a memorandum and copies of all the articles and comments carried by churumuri as part of its campaign.