COLUMN: Spouse's Turn
Sadhana talks about life with the poet TP Rajeevan
Photos: Sadhana Raghavan; (from left) Sreedevi, Sadhana, TP Rajeevan and Parvathy. Photos by TP Sooraj
By Shevlin Sebastian
Sadhana met the poet TP Rajeevan for the first time, in 1982, at the NSS College at Ottapalam. They were both in the same MA English class. “He was wearing a green kurta and brown trousers,” says Sadhana. “I regarded him as a classmate.” Sometime later, Sadhana came to know that Rajeevan was a poet.
Both were part of a group that would attend literary meetings. Once, they went to see Prof. MA Rahman's documentary on Vaikom Mohammed Basheer. “We both enjoyed it,” she says.
Right from the beginning, Rajeevan established his style of publishing sparingly. “He would write a poem and then rewrite it a lot,” says Sadhana. “Sometimes, he would take a year doing this. After that, he would go and show it to [senior poets] Atoor Ravi Varma and K G Sankara Pillai at Thrissur. Sometimes, I would accompany him. Both of them liked Rajeevan's style.”
Meanwhile, one day in 1986, when Sadhana was doing her M. Phil at the University of Calicut, Rajeevan told her that they should start their lives together. “That was when I realised he wanted to marry me,” says Sadhana. “I had only looked at it as a friendship. But when he said this, I knew that if I agreed it would deepen our bond.”
At her home, in Ottapalam, Sadhana's parents were receiving marriage proposals for their daughter. So she told her parents about Rajeevan's desire to marry her. “He had come once or twice to the house, so they had met him,” says Sadhana. “My parents did not object. They said they would find out more about Rajeevan's family. Thereafter, it became like an arranged marriage.”
While all this was going on, in May, 1988, Sadhana got a job as an assistant in Calicut University, while Rajeevan was working in various newspapers in Delhi. Eventually, the marriage took place on September 12, 1988, at Ottapalam. And, immediately, there was good news for Rajeevan. He got a job as a public relations officer at the University of Calicut. And, on October 1, he was conferred with the VT Kumaran poetry award at Vadakkara.
Asked to list her husband's qualities, Sadhana says, “Rajeevan has got a third dimension. If I say something, he is always able to find an unique angle. This is the case with anybody who meets him. He is very sincere in his words and behaviour.”
And hard-working, too. Rajeevan began work on his first novel, 'Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathira Kolapathakathinte Katha', in 1988, and took 12 years to complete it. “There are details about forensic investigations,” says Sadhana. “Rajeevan ensured that he got the technical facts right by reading books about the subject.”
Meanwhile, as a father, to Sreedevi, 25, and Parvathy, 23, Rajeevan has always been like a friend. “He gives advice and encourages them to do whatever they like,” says Sadhana. While Sreedevi is doing her M. Phil from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences at Mumbai, Parvathy, who has a MA in journalism, is working for a company in Chennai.
As for his negative points, Sadhana says, “Rajeevan is short-tempered. He will say what is in his heart, although he will cool down quickly. But some people keep the resentment in their hearts. So, he has a few enemies.”
But Sadhana has been his best friend right from the beginning. When Rajeevan wants to write, she will ensure that there is peace and quiet in the house. “When he gets engrossed he forgets to take his meals,” says Sadhana. “Rajeevan does not have a fixed routine while writing. When he is working on a novel, he can work for five to six days at a stretch. On other days, he will not write at all.”
Sometimes, he shows Sadhana what he has written. “I give my honest opinion,” she says. “Rajeevan is keen to know whether readers will like it.”
Meanwhile, Rajeevan's turning point occurred when he was invited to take part in the Struga Poetry Evenings Festival at Macedonia in 2002. “He interacted with a lot of poets from all over the world,” says Sadhana. “One of his poems was adjudged as the best in the festival. It gave Rajeevan a lot of confidence. He grew up in a village [Palery, in Kozhikode district], so he felt inhibited for many years.”
Thereafter, Rajeevan attended poetry festivals in Poland, Croatia, Israel, and the USA. He was awarded the International Visiting Programme Fellowship by the US Department of State in 2004. Rajeevan also received a Ledig House International Writer-in-Residence Fellowship in 2008 at New York, as well as the Rockefeller Foundation’s writer-in-residence fellowship at Bellagio, Italy, in 2013.
Asked how Rajeevan has changed over the years, Sadhana says, “He has become peaceful and relaxed. In the beginning, he had been tense about how his career would shape up.”
Finally, when asked to give tips for a successful marriage, Sadhana says, “Both spouses are individuals in their own right. So, you should respect each other. There should be sincerity and transparency between husband and wife. We should always communicate with each other so that there are no misunderstandings.”
(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)