Tenneti Hema Latha Devi, popularly known as Latha was a prolific Telugu writer of yester years. She wrote a regular weekly column on a wide variety of issues, titled, ” Ooha Gaanam “(Melodious Musings), in the Telugu weekly magazine “Andhra Prabha” during the fifties and sixtie of the past century.. She wrote elegant. short stories too about the sublime love of Radha and Krishna. I feel, if male children in many Telugu families are now named Vamsee (Bamboo Flute of Sri Krishna) these days, rather than ‘Murali’ , its synonym, the credit I believe should go to this lady who used the former word for the flute in many of her sublime love stories.And she was a bold activist too on issues that affected women.
Here is my attempt at translation of a Telugu essay of her about gender relations.
“Knights who are gallant, if they now and then bow down to elegant ladies, it is righteous conduct, nothing to sneer at. Haven’t you seen a mighty bow bend patiently forward to get tied down to its bow-string?”
(Translator’s Note: This is a Telugu poem by Singa Bhoopala. The Telugu verse goes like this.
villu naarikepudu paerminai vangadaa
chittajaata roopa Singa Bhoopa.
In this Telugu poem a pun is made on the word naari. Naari means a string. It also means a woman.)
A man bows down to the lady (naari), the bow bows down to its string (naari), it is normal.
But aside from the mutual affection men and women naturally have towards one another, they hold boundless suspicion over each other. He would some times mumble, ” My God, these women!”, and the lady would advise her friends, ” Don’t believe these wily men blindly like this, my dear”. Still they keep on longing for each other sweeping aside their lurking doubts. It is no hyperbole if I say that there is no other substance on earth stranger than the human brain.
This mutual infatuation is as natural as your breathing. To be able to breath and thus live on is pleasurable, you will agree. To lean on to each other is as pleasurable. There can be no happiness unless you believe each other, This suffocating society already looks like the entombed-alive-Anarkali’s grave. If then, each man begins to feel that, ” this woman is traitorous towards me.”, and the lady suspects that her man is a cheat, then the whole society would turn into a living hell.
Your happiness or your excellence reside in your mind. The bounds that differentiate good from bad too lie in your mind. What looks right to someone may appear wrong to someone else. What looks an apt course may not appear so to others.
Chivalrous knights and dainty damsels better not suspect one another. The newly weds get themselves photographed; they look so attached to each other that they seem to be oblivious to anything else in this world, in their wedding portrait. For a few months from the five minutes that it took to get photographed thus , we know how things would be with the couple, in one word blissful.. But the real drama starts after this euphoria. The guy is fed up with the lady. and the lady sulks and cries. Each would blame the other and his/ her parents for having ruined his/ her life respectively. And then, ‘Get lost’, or ‘ I’ll leave you.’
Today’s culture is such, most couples today are content to live this bickering way . Strange, they do not try to change even a wee bit, no, not even in their dreams.. How nice it would be if each lady is as nice a spouse as Kantam .as depicted by Munimanikyam Narasimha Rao, in his charming tales. But reality alas , seems otherwise. How ever many speeches we may deliver, how ever many essays those concerned may write, the dent that your life together has suffered can not be mended, It needs your own sincere efforts together to mend, no amount of sermonising by others would help.
A marriage that is not blissful, beautiful and marked by kindness and concern is a waste. When your partner has not turned sour, and your generousness matches your beauty, the lack of any convenience doesn’t bother you.Then whether you bow down to her or she bends down to you doesn’t matter, You both will be the protagonists in an epic love.story., You will not be a laughing stock in your neighbourhood.. Be you the loveliest looking couple, how doting you two are towards each other, you will be an exemplar only when you stay within your limits. If the limits are transgressed there is no happiness to either.
Any attempt at hegemony of one over the other needs to be curbed.The urge to control your partner is to be bounded within reasonable limits. If you want to assert your authority over your partner at any cost, can you ever be happy. Only if you stay within your limits, the respect that the other will show to you will increase. No doubt about this. But if each tries to forcibly make the other to bend down to the other, the string of your life’s bow will break, beware.”