Every man must do two
He must do his own believing
and his own dying.
— Martin Luther
On Friday the 22nd of August, 2014, I was in a hotel in Amritsar, Punjab, with my friends, visiting the place on some work and sight-seeing, this being my first visit to this holy city of Sikhs.
After a long journey by bus and by air, we were tired. A quick bath and then we sat down for a sundowner to restore our flagging spirit. A call came to my friend Vasudev Bhat, entrepreneur and Hon. Secretary of city’s Vijaya Vittala Educational Institutions, informing about the passing away of Dr. U.R. Ananthamurthy at the age of 82. Except me, none among those present seemed to evince interest in the news. However, one person had a sarcastic remark to make: “Was he not the one who said that he would leave the country if Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of the country? May be, he has kept his word.”
Suddenly the revellers became alive and one remarked: “Never mind being late by over 100 days after Modi becoming the Prime Minister.”
I sent my prayers to God — May his soul rest in peace. My next immediate thought was about the last words — immortal last words — of this “Literary Titan,” as declared by ‘The Times of India’ the next day, while carrying the news on the front page as the lead news. After all, is he not the recipient of India’s most coveted literary award known as the Jnanpith award and also the civilian honour known as Padma Bhushan award?
Why, the accolades he garnered included a Booker Prize nomination last year ! Someone in our group remembered his failed attempt to get Nobel Prize for Literature. R.K. Narayan missed it by a whisker and now Dr. Udupi Rajagopalacharya Ananthamurthy, to give him his full name, missed it, thus depriving we Kannadigas, nay India, that honour which would have been the second one after Rabindranath Tagore! If he had got the Nobel Prize, I would have likened him to ...more