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A searing memoir of a political life that took the Telugu literary world by storm.Well-known as the widow of Kondapalli Seetharamaiah (KS), founder of the Maoist movement in Andhra Pradesh, Koteswaramma’s life spans a tumultuous century of the Independence movement, the Communist insurrection and the Naxalite movement in Andhra Pradesh. A dedicated worker for the Communist A searing memoir of a political life that took the Telugu literary world by storm.Well-known as the widow of Kondapalli Seetharamaiah (KS), founder of the Maoist movement in Andhra Pradesh, Koteswaramma’s life spans a tumultuous century of the Independence movement, the Communist insurrection and the Naxalite movement in Andhra Pradesh. A dedicated worker for the Communist Party, she went underground in the difficult years of the late forties, living a secret life, running from safe house to safe house. Throughout, it was the support and companionship of her husband, Seetharamaiah, that gave her strength. And then, everything changed when he deserted her. Refusing to be cowed down, Koteswaramma rebuilt her life step by painful step. She educated herself, took up a job, raised her grandchildren, wrote poetry and prose and established herself as a thinking person in her own right. This moving memoir is a testimony of her courage and tenacity in the face of overwhelming odds, as well as her understanding of the frailties of human beings and political institutions. That women in India often face incredible suffering is known. That they can fight back and emerge winners is exemplified in Koteswaramma’s life.


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A searing memoir of a political life that took the Telugu literary world by storm.Well-known as the widow of Kondapalli Seetharamaiah (KS), founder of the Maoist movement in Andhra Pradesh, Koteswaramma’s life spans a tumultuous century of the Independence movement, the Communist insurrection and the Naxalite movement in Andhra Pradesh. A dedicated worker for the Communist A searing memoir of a political life that took the Telugu literary world by storm.Well-known as the widow of Kondapalli Seetharamaiah (KS), founder of the Maoist movement in Andhra Pradesh, Koteswaramma’s life spans a tumultuous century of the Independence movement, the Communist insurrection and the Naxalite movement in Andhra Pradesh. A dedicated worker for the Communist Party, she went underground in the difficult years of the late forties, living a secret life, running from safe house to safe house. Throughout, it was the support and companionship of her husband, Seetharamaiah, that gave her strength. And then, everything changed when he deserted her. Refusing to be cowed down, Koteswaramma rebuilt her life step by painful step. She educated herself, took up a job, raised her grandchildren, wrote poetry and prose and established herself as a thinking person in her own right. This moving memoir is a testimony of her courage and tenacity in the face of overwhelming odds, as well as her understanding of the frailties of human beings and political institutions. That women in India often face incredible suffering is known. That they can fight back and emerge winners is exemplified in Koteswaramma’s life.

46 review for The Sharp Knife of Memory: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tejaswini

    ' The Sharp knife of memory' a memoir by Kondapalli Koteswaramma , originally written as ' Nirjana Vaaradhi' ( An abandoned bridge) is the first autobiography of a Communist woman in Telugu. It was also translated to two other regional languages - Kannada & Malayalam. I absolutely don't consider this as a book review because doing so implies complimenting / commenting her life for which I'm not capable of. I'm here to just string my scattered thoughts running amok in my mind after reading her ten ' The Sharp knife of memory' a memoir by Kondapalli Koteswaramma , originally written as ' Nirjana Vaaradhi' ( An abandoned bridge) is the first autobiography of a Communist woman in Telugu. It was also translated to two other regional languages - Kannada & Malayalam. I absolutely don't consider this as a book review because doing so implies complimenting / commenting her life for which I'm not capable of. I'm here to just string my scattered thoughts running amok in my mind after reading her tenacious journey. I very well know that this is going to be a meek attempt to present her life here in mere ' black & white ' which has seen hues of extremities. ✍️✍️✍️ Destined to be a child widow at the age of six , thanks to the rationalistic ideologies of her family, she was sent to school & neither shunned nor criticized for her misfortune. Later she is married to Kondapalli Sitaramayya, (then a noted activist of Communist party) despite the stringent opposition by the community towards window re-marriage. Her husband's company fuelled up her already smouldering riveting instincts and made her to join the Communist party. ✍️✍️✍️ Koteswaramma led an incognito life when the party was banned during armed revolt of peasants in Telangana region under the leadership of communists leaving behind her children to her mother. Koteswaramma's life is never a cake walk & fate has denied showing an iota of sympathy on her. She is habituated to taste the bitterness of destitute & distress often. She has witnessed splits in the party parallel to the clamours in her own life. ✍️✍️✍️ Disturbances in marital life of decades of togetherness shuddered her the most. But she has passed matriculation after separation from her husband in Andhra Mahila Sabha & succeeded in getting a govt job too. At this juncture , she has nurtured her neglected literary skills long ago by writing poems, songs , short stories and participated in radio plays & this has become her solace. As she spent most of her life away from her children, she has written ' Amma Cheppina Kathalu' ( stories told by mother) as if imagining telling to them. ✍️✍️✍️ As mentioned in the book , writing autobiography at the age of 92 with poor eyesight & memory seemed as if her tears which were held back these years & brimmed up till then started rolling down and wrote the story of their own. Her son's death in fake encounter, son in law's sudden demise followed by her daughter's suicide -- choked her by not letting to breathe amidst the sobs of each grief dawning on her. The prose is genuine & honest, much to the dismay it has no trace of self- pity, anger & rancour in telling her profused convoluted life. Translation by Sowmya V B is really good by using Telugu words thereby not losing the original tinge & also I liked the way references & contexts were explained when and where necessary. ✍️✍️✍️ In her last interview at the age of 99 her revolutionary spirits were still being echoed in her words. She lamented about the current political scenario of the country & also the present safety of woman at risk citing the contrary situations in her years of exile. She had lived a complete life of 100 years & exhaled her last breath reaching the abode of haven in 2018. Facing so many boulders in her restless journey ,Koteswaramma instead of shattering, harbinged hope & that made her to live surpassing all overwhelming odds .

  2. 4 out of 5

    Roshini Ross

    “The poet, Nanduri had written, “Enki knows the language of flowers.” I thought, “If great people could understand the language of the wind, they would know why our revolutionaries who started the fight died in the arms of this forest without seeing victory.” Thus went the rest of my journey." I hope I never forget this book and it’s leading lady. “The poet, Nanduri had written, “Enki knows the language of flowers.” I thought, “If great people could understand the language of the wind, they would know why our revolutionaries who started the fight died in the arms of this forest without seeing victory.” Thus went the rest of my journey." I hope I never forget this book and it’s leading lady.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ipsita

    "What happened to his party, which envisioned a day when farmers and workers would progress together hand in hand? That communist Party had now split into seven. Which amongst these seven will establish that equal society we had hoped for? Each May Day, we raise slogans saying,"Workers of the world, unite!" But we never unite ourselves. We fight among ourselves. How , then can the workers unite?" "What happened to his party, which envisioned a day when farmers and workers would progress together hand in hand? That communist Party had now split into seven. Which amongst these seven will establish that equal society we had hoped for? Each May Day, we raise slogans saying,"Workers of the world, unite!" But we never unite ourselves. We fight among ourselves. How , then can the workers unite?"

  4. 5 out of 5

    Prem Sylvester

    The last book I read, Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India, referenced Kondapalli Seetharamaiah, the founder of the People's War Group, and his wife Kondapalli Koteswaramma, the author of this book, her autobiography. Got to reading this right after, and it works well as a companion piece - a short, but revealing look at the complex layers of revolutionary politics. The moral failings, personal tragedies and persistent survival of its leaders and cadre, offe The last book I read, Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India, referenced Kondapalli Seetharamaiah, the founder of the People's War Group, and his wife Kondapalli Koteswaramma, the author of this book, her autobiography. Got to reading this right after, and it works well as a companion piece - a short, but revealing look at the complex layers of revolutionary politics. The moral failings, personal tragedies and persistent survival of its leaders and cadre, offer cautionary tales, but also a map of their passions. The overarching theme here is the history of survival. Seetharamaiah abandons Koteswaramma in an act of infidelity, but she goes on living, raises her children, supports communist/people's movements, engages in cultural activities, works, endures so much grief, so much anger. The prose here is largely unsentimental, a by-the-numbers account (I often skimmed the flood of names and places, and other more monotonous and nondescript passages). But when Koteswaramma lets her emotions through, both implicitly and explicitly, the truth of her singularly painful, yet exemplary life reveals itself.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sowmya

    I am the translator - I don't want to write a self patting or self scathing review ;-) I am the translator - I don't want to write a self patting or self scathing review ;-)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mohammad Rafay

    A brief history on the life and struggles of Communists in India. Tells you about different sections of communists and their struggles for the egalitarian society.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kavya

  8. 5 out of 5

    Suman

  9. 4 out of 5

    Manu Paulose

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sneha Ganguly

  11. 5 out of 5

    Krupa

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katie Booker

  13. 4 out of 5

    mahitha

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sudeepta Pradhan (booksteaandmore)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Srinivas

  16. 5 out of 5

    Soumya

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dibya Mondal

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Johnson

  19. 5 out of 5

    Leenus Roffun

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rajat Ubhaykar

  21. 5 out of 5

    Emily Buxengaard

  22. 5 out of 5

    satyaa

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sravanthi Dasari

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ashim Chowla

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sasikumar

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brig KS

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tisha

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ankur Sharma

  30. 5 out of 5

    nandhakumar

  31. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  32. 5 out of 5

    Vinay Dabral

  33. 4 out of 5

    Aim0o

  34. 4 out of 5

    Iris Iris

  35. 5 out of 5

    Shyam

  36. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

  37. 5 out of 5

    Allyson

  38. 5 out of 5

    Mohd Yousuf

  39. 4 out of 5

    Jayalal

  40. 5 out of 5

    Adishi Gupta

  41. 4 out of 5

    Anup Gampa

  42. 5 out of 5

    Rumi

  43. 5 out of 5

    Sourav

  44. 5 out of 5

    Sagareeka Pradhan

  45. 5 out of 5

    T. Sark

  46. 4 out of 5

    Deepika M

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