Vendimabbu, A Silver Cloud, A novel originally in Kannada by the popular writer Triveni; Translated into Telugu by Sarvani, Published by M.Sheshachalam &Co (Emesco) Price 3.50. pages 160 (Nov 1976)
The story opens with a visitor arriving at Vendimabbu, Silver Cloud, the lavish house of a coffee plantation owner Sadasiva Rao. Tired and exhausted, after a tedious journey, Mohan’s tiredness vanishes after he looks at the picturesque house and its scenic splendour. What brings him on this tiring journey is his hope that he could get a favourable recommendation from the rich owner for a scholarship to pursue his studies abroad. He was disappointed after hearing that neither the owner nor his wife was at home, having gone to town on a urgent job one to procure seeds and the other on a bank job. While the mother returned home by evening father took two more days. He was compelled to stay for two more days till the owner arrived there on the insistence of Indira and her mother as they thought it was their duty to look after him till the father’s return.
The house was rightly named Vendimabbu, a silver cloud. The whole estate was located in a sprawling one hundred eighty acres of land. The house appears as if it was sitting in the lap of the mighty Mulayanagiri hill. While the hill was like a father who took care of all their needs the plantation was a mother who fed them and provided emotional support at all times. When he heard that both the master and his wife were not at home, he thought of going back. But the staff Puttayya assured him that the young mistress of the house could very well take care of the guests. He was very fond of the daughter and tells Mohan that she was her father’s daughter in the true sense as she loves her plantation and the deeply committed to the coffee plantation and its maintenance. True to his word, she came back from the estate visit and assured Mohan that he could wait till her father’s return.
At the first appearance Mohan did not find Indira to be a great beauty. She was not a charmer but was courteous, and generous to the guest. Mohan was impressed that she was the heir to the empire that her father had built. Within two days while waiting for her father Indira engaged him by taking him around the estate. In addition to getting to know that sprawling plantation Mohan also noticed that she was so attached to the plantation work and was familiar with the problems as well as solution to them. She always carried a long garden knife used to prune the plants with her and was constantly on the look out for any extra growth as the plants that were short and thick would yield more seeds than the tall plants. Puttayya affectionately calls her the twinkling star of the silver cloud.
When the mother came back she took over the looking after job and found out about his family and mentally decided Mohan could be be a good match for Indira. She told her husband the same when he returned home. Sadasiva Rao who resisted the idea first agreed as he felt that his daughter was not averse to the idea. Things moved fast and Indira and Mohan’s engagement took place and Mohan successfully got his scholarship to study further in US. He kept in touch with her initially. Meanwhile Indira’s mother unexpectedly conceived and died in childbirth due to the complications arising out of late pregnancy. Indira forgot everything and began to take care of her baby brother while waiting for Mohan to return. A cold breeze begins to blow in their relationship as Indira was all the time updating Mohan on her brother and his progress. After he returns from US the first thing Indira noticed was that the Mohan that came back was not the one she loved. Gradually she understands his nature. And she tells him he need not marry her if he had changed his mind. Relieved, he told her that he had in fact changed his mind. The birth of her baby brother changed everything for him.
He would no longer be the sole owner of the plantation after Sadasiva Rao and now the little boy would be the heir. That changed everything and Indira realised the nature of his dislike and his true character. She told him that he should not tell her father about his change of mind and should leave it to her. He was thankful to her. Though she decided against marrying him her love for him did not change. When he was about to leave go back to join a new job, he met with an accident in the estate and injured his leg. Indira took care of him without any reservation, there was no change in her attention to him, which opened his eyes to her character. He started falling in love with her but Indira refused to give him that chance again. She tells her father about Mohan’s weakness and her decision not to marry him. But father told her that he had already been in the house as her future husband for the last three months and she would not find anyone else easily. He tried to convince her but she was firm in her decision.
All the efforts of Mohan to win her back fail. His parents who come to visit were given hearty welcome. Mohan’s mother who also resented the arrival Indira’s younger brother into the family clearly disliked Indira and out of spite attributed her son’s accident to Indira saying that her entry in their house was not an auspicious one . One more reason for the dislike was that she felt the boy would be a hindrance to his son’s future plans and happiness. Indira doted on her baby brother and was happily willing to give up Mohan for the sake of the boy.
Mohan in the end asked her helplessly, ‘what do you want now other than your brother Giri and the Silver Cloud?’ She asks him ‘where is silver now Mohan, in the silver cloud? It was washed away. My lost youth will be a memory for my old age. What remains is just a cloud’. That was void she decided to face and the what appeared to be a mere failed love story when read forty years back suddenly leaves you with admiration for the girl and the novel turns out to be a more complex love story. Indira never stopped loving him, Mohan even when he realised his mistake could not win her back despite her worth as a human being, a cloud indeed and a dark one too.
A weak male and a strong female character – Triveni’s literary journey started on this note and continued almost on the same path in successive novels with different and varying themes. Sarvani did an excellent job. At no point of time does the reader feel he was reading a novel in translation. The narrative reads like an original and Sarvani sets the trend for translations into Telugu from Kannada and one rides on this wave for almost two and half decades.