Saturday, May 24, 2014

Making sense of one's surroundings

In a predominantly growth-obsessed market-driven consumerist culture, the environment as a subject has remained at the margins of popular perception – arcane to some and obscure to others. Environment no longer registers! Even if it does, it is often from the perspective of highly polarized environment-development debates. That environment sustains all life forms rarely merit a majority concern. 

Why is modern living distanced from the environment? Could near absence of inter-generational transfer of empathy towards environment be the prime reason! Stories, both oral and written, have ceased to be the channel for transferring the subtleties of our inter-dependence on nature and myriad other life forms. Stark monetization of human existence has further reduced environment into a set of by-products and services that can be traded. No surprise therefore that environment has been pushed to the margins of social consciousness with the riches of nature being squandered for petty gains.     

Through his collection of refreshing short stories, noted Kannada writer K P Purnachandra Tejasvi connects the civilized with the wild, evoking sentience towards what is often considered ‘given’. Set amidst the forest adjoining his village Mudigere in Chickamaglur district, each of the fifteen stories are encounters in the wild, capturing the innate intelligence of various animals in interacting with humans. The strange behavior of the jungle fowl; the mythical existence of snakes; the defense mechanism of the mud tortoise; and the amazing commonsense of the simians provide compelling insights on the virtues of co-existence. 

Considered as one of the finest prose writers, Tejasvi’s stories are neither obtrusive nor preachy. Full of wit and humor, he delightfully transforms real-life incidents in the forest into stories which have environment as the central character. The storyteller doesn’t lay undue emphasis on environment, leaving it to the reader’s imagination to create possibilities in his or her own depths. These are not just stories but experiences in the wild, making the reader aware about environment even without realizing it. The stories neither compete nor negotiate an existing situation, but create an enduring relationship between the reader and the human/non-human characters. 

There is unmistakable hint of richness lurking in each of the stories in The Story of My Environment. Tejasvi has an exceptional sensitivity towards environment which together with his comic genius helps transform this collection into a work of art. As a tribute to Tejasvi’s brilliance, this collection of short stories is 'highly recommended' for readers of all age groups!

The Story of My Environment
by K P Puranachandra Tejasvi
Pustakaprakashana, Mysore
Extent: 192, Price: Rs 140

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