Da Ra Bendre was born, according to the Gregorian calendar, on the 31st of January, 1896. Upon his death on the 26th of October, 1981, the Karnataka government of the time had the (surprising) intelligence and foresight to designate the day of his birth “ಕವಿ ದಿನ (kavi dina: Poet’s Day)” and make the occasion a statewide celebration of Bendre’s poetic genius. While interest in Bendre has (naturally) waned since his death, the day continues to be celebrated across Karnataka; so serving, in its limited way, to remind the interested of and introduce the novice to the magnificence of Bendre’s poetry and its role in securing the Kannada language’s place on the Olympus of Lyric Poetry.
In 2019, after a fairly long hiatus, I decided to publish my 25th post on the 31st of January – to coincide with Bendre’s 123rd birth anniversary. Having done that in the afternoon and having advertised it on social media, I was passing the evening in my room when I received a wholly unexpected message from the tireless steward and admin of the Facebook page ಬೇಂದ್ರೆ ಬದುಕು-ಬರಹ (Bendre Baduku-Baraha), a labour of love and very likely the most comprehensive compilation available of Bendre’s life and work (Baduku-Baraha).
It turned out that the steward (who prefers anonymity) wanted me to read out a poem of Bendre’s to celebrate the occasion. (He was familiar with my translation of Bendre’s poetry and had even used his Facebook page to popularize my work.) After a small exchange, I realized that he wanted me to do “Facebook Live”, something I’d never done before! I wasn’t so sure at first, but then we decided that I would recite-sing the poem “Jogi (ಜೋಗಿ)“, a most magnificent poem and one I knew by heart. After another exchange where he instructed me how to do a Facebook Live, I was ready to recite the poem.
However…what began at about 11 PM as a small effort meant to last about 5 minutes transformed into a monologue that lasted 38 minutes and 25 seconds! Though most of the monologue is in Kannada, I thought I would include the video here (on this “English website”) for the interested – whether they know Kannada or not. If those who do not know Kannada would like the video subtitled (or perhaps transcribed), do let me know.
You will find the video below. Forgive me if I do not make a pretty sight – it was my first time going live on Facebook and no make-up artist was at hand.