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This time around, from my attic tumbled out an old book which, re-read out of curiosity, took me to the world of political slugfests and rows of decades ago. The 52-page book Naan Kanda Periyar (The Periyar I saw) was published by Tamilagam way back in 1957.

My attic (paran) is home to old bottles, vessels given as wedding gifts to granddaughters by grandmas and great-grandmas, easy chairs that kept grandfathers — mostly couch potatoes in the twilight of their life — comfortable, three-legged chairs bereaved of one leg, a wedding blanket in tatters, walking sticks that walk no longer, empty pickle jars now filled with cobwebs, moth-eaten postcards and inland letters dripping with the affection expressed by close relations…all memories and materials that sank into oblivion are sleeping uncared for and unnoticed in the paran.

Serendipitously, my paran throws up books from a trunk of grandfathers’ time. This column brings those forgotten books back to public memory. An intro about an old book and some excerpts make up this column.

(Note: Most of the books that figure in this column are out of edition. Though a rare few may have come out in new editions).

The author of the book Kovai Ayyamuthu is a writer this generation probably does not know

The book Naan Kanda Periyar shows the great Dravidian leader E V Ramasamy from a different perspective. Several traits of his personality, unknown to the public, are brought to light.

The author of the book Kovai Ayyamuthu is a writer this generation probably does not know. He was a Congress party member and a khadi aficionado. No wonder he earned the goodwill of Mahatma Gandhi. Besides, he was close to two diametrically opposite personalities yet close friends Periyar E V  Ramasamy and C Rajagopalachari aka Rajaji. Ayyamuthu used to call Periyar Naicker ‘Peruman’ and Rajaji ‘my father.’

Also Read: From the attic — a Tamil-Sanskrit magazine from 1899

Ayyamuthu was known to be a militant firebrand writer who spared none and minced no words in politics. Quite popular for calling a spade a spade, he never allowed personal intimacy to colour his judgments when it came to objective criticism of public leaders. Noted Tamil writer Pudhumaipithan once remarked that Kovai Ayyamuthu was notorious for his acerbic tongue and fire-soaked words.

The book narrates episodes where Ayyamuthu slams Periyar and Rajaji over certain issues though he personally loved the two leaders. Ayyamuthu, though a devotee of Gandhi, once had a disagreement with the Mahatma over the issue of khadi.

Passages, written lucidly and candidly, particularly those which show Ayyamuthu in a verbal duel with Periyar make quite an interesting read, six decades on.

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