Pa.JEYAPIRAKASAM “The Torchbearer of the Oppressed”

Foreword from Paa.Jeyapirakasam's translated stories "Invitation to Darkness"

- Dr.A.S.Ilangovan (Former Deputy Secretary, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi)

Jeyapirakasam literally means the light leading to lasting success. The writer is an accomplished master of the art and craft of short story. He has never detached him from his roots. His mind analyses well but his heart bleeds for the oppressed, suppressed and depressed. He admires the dignity of the lives of the poorest of the poor and portrays their righteous struggles against exploitation. All along he comes out as the warrior with the shining sword against social exploitation, economic oppression and cultural imposition. Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains. Women are in even more rigorous punishment, in tears and in dredgery.

JP has decided to be on the side of the weak and downtrodden. He never falters in any of his stories. He cannot sacrifice truth and conscience for the sake of artistic beauty and literary elegance. He is wired that way. He cannot escape from being that way. Congratulations to him both as the finest writer and as the foremost soldier of human kindness.

Edgar Allan Poe, Anton Chekhov, O. Henry and Maapasson are the versatile fictionists who excelled in short story. Sedgenmick feels that a short story is like the horse race where speed and buoyancy are foremost. William Boyd’s description lists the technique of our JP in more than one way.

“Short stories seem to answer something very deep in our nature as in them, for the duration of its telling, something special has been created. Some essence of our experience extrapolated with some temporary sense, has been made of our common, our turbulent journey towards the grave and oblivion”.

Puthumaipithan, Jeyakanthan and Ki. Rajanarayanan are the three great landmarks in Tamil short story tradition. Our JP occupies an exalted pedestal in that meritorious order.

A random survey of the content and methodology of JP will give many interesting insights.

A Jerusalem portrays the unquenched longing of a small boy who cries uncontrollably for his dead mother. The bond is intense. None can console him. The pathos of the story take this story to the highest level of story telling.

The course of the death of his mother was caused by the violence of his father. Wives and mothers are burnt alive in the fire of daily life without any salvation for many centuries. JP shows the light of truth and love on women. Can he awaken the conscience of arrogant dominant and stubborn men? The pen has done its job. But the future is still pessimistic. Can we change it?

The Chieftain’s House portrays the decline and fall of the rural elite to poverty, suffering and deprivation. The lady of the great house falls from grace and honour. The reveller who came for alms, gives his own collected earnings to the lady of the house. Human dignity even in penury and poverty shines with a golden glow.

Such great stories with the background of his native black soil and dry rural scene are well presented; However stark contrast is the story of the office clerk is about urban, educated, exploitation. A newly married clerk is refused permission to leave and home visit when he longs for the company and love of his newly wedded wife. But the story is not a tragedy. The clerk throws away the rotten job, walks out against his superior and faces life with courage.

The life of a night watchman, a Gorkha, quite alien to the Tamil Nadu land is a dark parallel to this. Poverty compels such workers to be devoid of the conjugal love and also the nearness of close relatives. This is modern dilemma.

The story 'Lives Sans Roots' described the life of a girl who is a night dancer. New Government Order takes away her profession and she has to resort to the redlight life unwillingly in a distant city. Her lover forsakes her. Life becomes a journey from one crisis to another and from one worry to a different one.

Each story is a goldmine of emotions described with a touch of love and beauty. Though the events are dark and worrisome, the women and men come out as shining examples of human dignity. Love, kindness and comradeship signify the actions of the real heroes and heroines of the ordinary life.

JP is a narrator of excellent calibre and portrayer of colourful fine details. He writes with clarity, purpose and elegance. We need him to enlighten the new generation and kindle its conscience to work towards creating a brave new world where all can live happily with dignity.

Latha Ramakrishnan has translated almost all the stories with an elegant pen. She has never distorted the tone or underlying truth. A simple, direct and highly readable style of her English attracts the reader immensely. She fosters the essence of the stories admirably. No omissions, no commissions, no unwanted liberties or intrusions. She adds a sharp, scintillating sonorous touch to the creative brilliance of JP.

S.A. Vengada Soupraya Nayagar - an experienced scholar and translator from Puduchery, employs the French perfume of liberal joy to his style of translation. His translation clearly picturises the original artistic excellence. Nayagar’s translation is unique, interesting and thoroughly enjoyable like French wine.

Any reader who browses a few paragraphs of these stories will definitely fall in love with the beauty of joy and high richness of the stories. He cannot escape the magic of JP. He will be transformed as a sympathizer of the men and women of this scenario. Later he will wonder, love and emphathise with the characters. Finally they become better human beings.

JP is a respected veteran of the progressive brigade of the Indian writers. Our Paa.Jeyapirakasam has done such proud masterpieces by writing world class short stories with finest artistic elegance and having a pride of place in the golden brigade of conscientious writers.

The Tamil readers have been fortunate to have him so far. Now the entire English speaking world welcomes him with open arms.


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