Domini Jeeva’s literary legacy | Daily News

Domini Jeeva’s literary legacy

As a teenager (18 or 19) I have heard of a Tamil writer by name of Dominic Jeeva. But I happened to read the Suthanthiran (a hard-hitting newspaper of the Tamil Arasu Kadchi) where senior writers were writing to that weekly. This was edited by the late S T Sivanayagam crowned as a doyen of contemporary Tamil Journalism. I wrote a few pieces to the teenager’s page Valarmathi. So was Theevaan (Mu. Ponnanbalam). I saw short stories by senior writers but not read them.

Good books

But it was a few years later that I became an avid reader of Lankan and Tamil Nadu fiction writing. Ramanathan, MS Iqbal, Rainbow Kanagaratnam, K Kailasapathy, Sillaiyoor Selvarajan were the people who recommended good books to me.

At that time Dominic Jeeva’s Paathukai, his first collection of short stories, came to be published. I read his book critically and wrote a review in English for the then Sunday Times ably edited by K Muttiah, the well-known writer from the then Madras. (now Chennai). Kasinathan who was a professor of Philosophy at the University of Peradeniya appreciated my review very much. I did not know if Dominic Jeeva had ever read that review.

I wanted to meet him and so I went to Yaalpaanam and stayed at Lake View Hotel in Kasthuriaar Road. Jeeva was having his hairdressing salon just near the hotel. Having heard that I was in town, a good-looking man full of enthusiasm knocked and came into my room. At once I felt that though he looked very simple he was an impressive personality. Then we made friends, whenever I visit Yaalpaanam I make it a point to visit him. He asked me to write to Mallikai and he published most of my articles. He told me that late A J Canagaratna used to like my contributions.

Evident editorials

Jeeva respected me as a critic and he liked me so much. I was humbled by his wisdom and social consciousness evident from his editorials in his well respected literary magazine. Then he moved to the Metropolis, and we had occasions to meet, chat and respect each other.

I have written several articles both in English and Tamil and it is not necessary to repeat all that I have said about him, his annuals, his life and experiences and books of fiction in this brief note.

Although he stopped schooling when he was in Lower school (he was compelled to dislike the degradation he had suffered because of his accidental birth in a downtrodden caste), Dominic Jeeva, to my mind, is humanist and felt strongly for the underdogs in society.