Meet Ramesh Karthik Nayak, a young author who tells stories of Banjara tribal people


Speaking to TNM, Ramesh Karthik Nayak shared his journey as a poet and writer who wants to highlight the unexplored side of the lives of Lambadi tribes.

“Our thanda (hamlet) is a bird’s nest, our huts are broken eggs and our lives are floating feathers.” This excerpt, which narrates the usually untold life of the Banjara or Lambadi tribal community, is from Baldair Bandi (bullock cart), touted to be the first ever anthology of Lambadi poetry written by Ramesh Karthik Nayak, a young poet and writer from the community. With a unique take and writing style, Ramesh has written Baldair Bandi, a poetry book in 2018, and very recent Dhaavlo (an elegy),a compilation of Gor Banjara short stories in Telugu. The 23-year-old’s English poetry series titled Chakmak (Chekimukirallu) is going to be published later this year.

Ramesh was born in Jakranpally thanda, a tiny hamlet in Nizamabad along National Highway 44, which goes through thick forests and hills. His parents Nunavath Sevanthabai and Mojiram, both do agriculture. For Ramesh, poetry is something that became his friend at a time of loneliness and solitude, he says, adding that his interest in reading books opened the doors to a wide range of literature.

Recently, Ramesh held an event to launch Dhaavlo, a short stories book, at his thanda among his people, where several literary figures and poets arrived. All of them said that it was a day to be remembered, as it was touted as the first ever short story book which brought the struggles and identity of Lambadi people to life. Knowing the significance of education, Ramesh’s parents sent him to a residential school in Bodhan town where his entire schooling took place. Ramesh spent very less time at his native place owing to his studies. According to him, that is when he came close to cultural activities, short stories and poems as a child.

In a candid conversation with TNM, Ramesh Karthik Nayak shared his journey as a poet and writer who wants to highlight the unexplored side of the lives of Lambadi tribes. “My poems or stories all come from either from my personal experience or something that I saw in life in the thandas,” says Ramesh, when asked about his writing process.

Ramesh says that he read a lot of books including several on tribal people, especially on Banjaras, but failed to find any originality and always wanted to write something that was not done before. “There are several books or writings on tribal people, especially on Lambadis, but they do not reflect the true essence of life. Some historical non-fictions are of no use. They just repeat what others say, so I decided to write the life of Lambadis, that is unwritten.”

Ramesh’s poem Jarerbati (Sorghum Roti), which he wrote while he was pursuing his undergraduate course, is now part of the curriculum for undergraduate third year students in an autonomous college in Khammam under Kakatiya University. For Ramesh, poetry is something that makes one feel very happy. When asked why he chose Baldairbandi (bullock cart) as the title for his first anthology of poetry, he said, “There is an unbreakable relationship between the bullock cart and Lambadis. It is there in their life, migration and celebration. In Baldairbandi, I highlighted stories that were beautiful, sad and uncherished to the city, from the thanda.”

It was the reading of South African writers JM Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians and Nadine Gordimer’s July’s People, and short stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and writings of Mahasweta Devi, that gave Ramesh influence and inspired him to write.

“After reading those books, I often thought, why there are no such works in Telugu, and why can’t I do that? Perhaps, that longing to tell the stories of my community by exploring and capturing their life and culture has pushed me forward to penning them down. I will continue writing about my people until the world gets to know about us, our life, folklore and culture.” Ramesh is currently writing a drama and co-editing a book of Lambadi stories with Professor Surya Dhananjay.

Courtesy The News Minute

Leave a Reply