Young tribal writer’s poems become voice of Lambadis- The New Indian Express

News Express Service

VIJAYAWADA: Nunnavath Karthik’s Balder Bandi, a collection of poems, has been added to the curriculum of the MA Telugu Language and Literature course at Andhra University. The 25-year-old poet began writing to shed light on the lives of the Lambadis, the tribal community to which he belongs.

Balder Bandi, meaning bullock cart, is a collection of 53 poems reflecting on the lifestyle of Lambadis, also known as Banjaras. The book’s title highlights the connection the community shares with bullock carts for both migration and celebration.

The majority of Lambadis live in Thanda in the Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh and parts of Telangana. They speak Gor Boli, a language without a script. Karthik, alias Ramesh Karthik Nayak, started his poetry journey in 2018 with Balder Bandi. At first, only 20 books were sold, but the collection soon became a tribal literature.

At that time, he was working as a waiter in a hotel. AU second year students of Telugu Language and Literature will analyze the poem for the academic year 2022-23. In 2019, one of his poems, Jarer Bati (Jowar Roti) was added to the Telugu Literature curriculum of the same book at SR and BGNR Government Degree College, Khammam, Telangana.

My works can fill long untouched gaps: Karthik

Born on 14 December 1997 in a farmer’s family in Jakranpally Thanda of Nizamabad district, Telangana, Karthik is the eldest son of N Mojiram and N Sevantha. He has done MA in English from Osmania University and BA in English, Hindi and Telugu from Dr. Secunderabad. at BR Ambedkar Open University.

Karthik, who is also a painter, started writing at an early age. Expressing happiness at the recognition from Andhra University, Karthik said, “I dared to write when I could not find any Telugu literature about my village. It was a chance, even though I knew my books wouldn’t make any money. But it can fill in gaps that haven’t been touched in ages. My villagers were very happy with my work and their recognition.’

On future plans, Karthik said that Delhi-based Red River Press will soon publish his collection of English poems, Chakma. AU Professor Jarra Appa Rao, Head of the Department of Telugu, said, “His subject matter and language are admirable. What makes his writing unique is that he deals with issues like tribal movements, freedom fighters and culture. That’s why we have introduced his poems as lessons at Mallipuram this academic year. Along with Jagadish’s Durla, Pantulu’s Nasab and Venkat Lal’s Adavipakshi Alapana.

On Karthik’s contribution to Tribal literature, noted film actor and writer, Tanikella Bharani said, “It is heartening to see that Karthik has achieved the feat of reading about the Banjara tribe. Such writings are very much needed for Tribal Telugu literature. I am happy that Andhra University has given his poems to knowing that he has included them in the curriculum. His work deserves recognition.”

Former HoD, Department of Telugu, Osmania University, Dr. Dhanavath Suryadhananjay said, “Ramesh Karthik is a literary ray of hope that has emerged from the tribal community.
Earlier, there was no creative literature associated with Banjaras. His poems and stories perfectly show the life of a banjara.’

Balder Bandi and his short story collection Dhavlo (Lamentation) were selected for the Kendra Sahitya Academy Yuva Puraskar in 2021 and 2022 respectively. Karthik has also co-edited two books, Kesula and Jammi, with Suryadhananjay.

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