‘Carvalho’ was the novel that brought Poornachandra Tejaswi the most popularity. The novel, which was first printed in 1980, has been printed 43 times in the last 38 years.
The novel depicts the destruction of various species and man’s failure to capture them while exploring the vagaries of evolution. It is a work that expands the possibilities of the Kannada novel genre. It has been translated into English, Japanese, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil and German. It won the Karnataka Sahitya Akademi’s Special Prize for Best Creative Work of 1980.
This is a remarkable novel. Tejaswi portrays in his characters and rural area with an outstanding craftsmanship and tells a story that is fascinating both in concept and in the setting.
The eponymous hero of this book is “a great Botanist, a talented Entomologist”, camped in the rural areas of Chikkamagaluru, and has recently been engaged in a life-time quest: the exploration of the reptile, the flying lizard, from prehistoric times. Carvalho has international support; “The Smithsonian Institute, the Geological Society, and the British Geological Unit have come forward with financial assistance for £7,000 sterling.”
But what makes this book amazing is that Carvalho has not been placed in the reptiles trail by high-falutin scientists, nor are his co-passengers in persuasion a grail heavy-duty scholars.
His source of inspiration is the rural naughty Mandanna, who claims to have seen the wonder of flying; the motley group, which forms an adventure team who can infiltrate the dense forests and circles around Norway, includes a cook and an expert tree climber, a bow-footed Biriyani Kariappa, Prabhakar who manages a movie camera, Mandanna, a mentor, a snake catcher named Yenkta, Kiwi, the dog, Carvalho, and a shadow narrator.
Bonding a group together brings about feelings of excitement and wonder. The author is telling us that the awe of the unknown remains a feeling that can ignite, conquer, and make all move in strange ways, with also igniting the imagination of the most unlikely people.
Tejaswi’s real triumph was his ability to portray all the small and important characters, Mandanna and Biryani Kariyappa, in real and three dimensions – Mandanna and Biryani Kariyappa – who are the people who make this thin book, and the ability to tell short stories with humour effective.
There is much farce in which bees spoil the minister’s public meeting – incidentally, beekeeping as a profession is prominently situated in the book, perhaps an indication of the author’s inclinations.
Mandanna’s marriage to Cretin and his arrest later in an illegal distillation case is portrayed well. Tejaswi impresses upon the last word. At the end a flying reptile is given a suffocating chase and due to the same the climax is both heartwarming and cosmic.