While India was celebrating its 66thRepublic Day yesterday, we lost the legendary Cartoonist R. K. Laxman, a true hero of independent, democratic and republic India. When this news flashed on the television while watching the Republic Day Parade, suddenly numerous cartoons were passing by like tableaux before my eyes. It was nothing but a flashback of great cartoons by the great cartoonist.
I travelled 30 years back, when I was a school kid from a small industrial town called Solapur, in the southern part of Maharashtra, where I was born and brought up. I was the youngest son in our family and we used to live in a barely 100sq/ft rented room in old Indian style apartment called aWada. I clearly remember, I was in 5th standard and there was no information media except the Radio and Newspaper. And our landlord was a regular reader of ‘Navbharat Times’ (A Hindi publication of The Times of India). But in those days due to logistical issues this newspaper used to arrive in the town all the way from Mumbai very late in the day, around 5pm. Hence there was no question of getting it delivered at doorstep by regular Paperwallahs in early wee hours .Besides, it used to be available in book stands which were near the railway station, about 10 kilometers from our house.
Our landlord used to wait till 6pm for me to come back from school, give me his bicycle key (though I didn’t know much of riding a bicycle at that time) and 50 paise to buy a newspaper.We were poor, couldn’t afford to buy a bicycle, in fact I used to go to school walking which was 4-5 kms away. Therefore, riding a bicycle was like nothing less than a dream! So I used to go happily to buy that newspaper every day. But somewhere in my mind, I was curious - why does he like this particular newspaper, what’s so special about it?
That was how I learnt two things. One was to ride a bicycle and secondly it brought me closer to the news and newspapers but more than that to the world of political satire cartoons, depicted by legendary cartoonist R. K. Laxman. Though I wasn’t mature enough to understand the humour, I used to enjoy watching his daily pocket cartoons and special editorial cartoons in the Sunday editions.
Gradually, his cartoons brought three big significant events in my life:
1) His cartoons inspired/taught me to draw
2) His cartoons gave me a sense of humor
3) His cartoons carved out a Cartoonist out of me
Today, when I look back at the past 30 years, I am grateful for the inspiration I got from Laxman and salute the great man, his wicked humour and his simple illustrations that were yet so complex. Rest it peace.
About the author
Nagesh is a qualified and professional Visual Designer, worked with several leading advertising and media houses in the span of last 13 years. Besides, he has versatile skill set ranging from Illustration, Caricaturing, Cartooning, Animation to Painting. As a freelance Cartoonist, he has contributed editorial cartoons for several print and digital publications. He can be reached on Twitter @snagesh75 and on mail firstname.lastname@example.org