When reading or listening to his poems, one could easily wonder if there ever lived a poet who loved Mother Earth as fervently as this great poet did. His poems echo his whimper, tormented by the declining health of his beloved mother, Earth, and that sound of his snivel did not cease until he breathed his last on 13 February 2016.
Ottaplakkal Neelakandan Velu Kurup, or O.N.V. Kurup, as he is more popularly known, has lived in two centuries — in the twentieth and twenty first centuries — and has worriedly witnessed and lamented about humankind's endless exploitation of Mother Earth.
As a poet, lyricist and teacher Kurup's contribution to Malayalam literature, cinema and theatre is invaluable. The feathers that adorn this late poet's cap range from numerous State Awards to National Awards, including the prestigious Padma Shri, Padma Vibushan and the Jnanpith (India's highest literary) award.
One of his most famed works is the poem Bhumikku Oru Charamageetham, translated A Dirge for the Earth or A Requiem to Mother Earth, written in 1984. The poet painfully foresees the death of Mother Earth, and his own ahead of hers, and writes her this requiem. He bewails the selfish, destructive and abusive nature of her children who in the process of bleeding and exploiting her are also unaware of their own end.
The poem takes us on an evocative and painful journey, where Kurup likens Earth to a mother who has fed her children, us humans, with her own milk, her resources. Alas, that does not suffice! Unable to satiate our thirst, we begin to suck and drain her blood, too. The poignant lines is a wake up call for humanity, reminding us that the future of planet Earth could only be preserved through mutualistic relationships between humankind and nature.
You can listen to O. N. V. Kurup's Bhumikku Oru Charamageetham, in Saji Thulasidas's voice on O's podcast