Tamil poet Abdul Rahman, who passed away last week, had a huge fan following in Sri Lanka, where he maintained close links with contemporary scholars and poets over the last 40 years.
“I first met him in 1975 in Colombo when he came for a kaviyarangu (poets’ meet) organised by Radio Ceylon,” said senior academic MA Nuhman, who is also a poet and literary critic. After that, ‘Kaviko’, as Abdul Rahman was widely known, visited Sri Lanka several times and made many friends among scholars here.
Describing him as a ‘remarkable figure’ in modern Tamil poetry, Prof. Nuhman said Kaviko’s writings were largely in the genre of romantic poetry or philosophical reflections. “He did not make any explicit political references,” he said. “He did not make any explicit political references, his poems were often more philosophical,” he said, adding that his style was at once rich and accessible. “In 1998, he gifted me a copy of his anthology Alapanai, which received the Sahitya Akademi award.” Where he differed from most other Tamils poets was in his ability to draw upon Persian and Urdu classics, and bring in those influences to his own writing in Tamil, Prof. Nuhman said.
Where he differed from most other Tamils poets was in his ability to draw upon Persian and Urdu classics, and bring in those influences to his own writing in Tamil, Prof. Nuhman said.
Renowned scholar Kambavarithy Ilankai Jeyaraj, in a tribute in a verse titled Eezhathu Tamizhargalin Idayanthannai Eertha Perum Kalvan (The great thief who stole the hearts of Sri Lankan Tamils), said Kavikko had won the hearts of Sri Lankan Tamils. Observing that Rahman was a writer who rejected fame and wealth, Mr. Jeyaraj said he expressed profound philosophical thoughts with utmost elegance and beauty.
“Without doubt, his passing has created a vacuum in the world of Tamil literature,” said NM Ameen, president of the Sri Lanka Muslim Council and Editor of Navamani newspaper.