November 3, 2016
The Tamil diaspora which has spread to every nook and corner of the globe has thankfully not forgotten its cultural roots. Though living overseas, the Tamils have their priorities right in terms of guarding their identity as Tamils first before calling themselves global citizens. Be it teaching their children their mother tongue or training them in Bharatanatyam, overseas Tamils have found a way to keep their culture alive.
T K Ramanujam, a techie working as vice-principal of an East London college, is one such prolific Tamil writer proud of his Tamil roots. Assuming the pen name Pudhuyugan, the software engineer turned writer has so far authored five books. He also shares his passion for the Tamil language with other great writers and globetrots to propagate the richness of the Tamil language by participating in Tamil literary meets and conferences all over the world.
His five books – three poetry anthologies, one novel and one non-fiction – have fared very well, if not become publishing phenomena.
Talking about his book “Air, Fire and Water” that deals with the 1930 salt march in Tamil Nadu led by Rajaji, he says, “Very few authentic books have been written about this historic event that was organised by Sardar Vedaratnam Pillai.” In the book, he recounts how a village barber took on the might of the British empire by refusing to service a policeman who worked for the British. “In the end, the barber accepted the punishment happily but refused to budge, such was his patriotism,” he says.
Hailing from a family of writers, Ramanujam has some 30 odd writers in his extended family: his father, aunt, uncle and grandfather are all writers. R Kallapiran, his banker-father, won the TN Government award for his book “Vetrikku Vazhikaatum Melanmai,” a book on management principles, and his grandfather Ramanuja Kavirayar, a Gandhian wrote “Gandhi Kaavyam,” a voluminous epic in 10 volumes and 12282 stanzas.
Ramanujam’s books are critically acclaimed too. Eminent litterateurs such as poets Sirpi and Vairamuthu have lauded his literary works and Sirpi has congratulated him for “finding his own niche in Tamil poetry.”
A much sought-after speaker in literary meets, Ramanujam has submitted a research paper on “New streams in magical realism” in the Tamil Chemmozhi conference held in Coimbatore in 2010, has addressed the world Tamil conference of the California Tamil Sangam in Santa Clara and Kamban Vizha in Auroville.
“I don’t believe in aping the west. Our Tamil culture and heritage is more than 2000 years old. I do dress up like a westerner in three-piece suits but in my heart of hearts I am a Tamil first, and I will continue to contribute as a writer to safeguard the pool of Tamil writings. I plan to relocate to Tamil Nadu soon as I want my daughter to grow up steeped in Tamil culture,” Ramanujam signs off.