An inconspicuously small name board hangs outside a farm at Alanahalli on the Mysore-Gaddige Road.
The farm looks wild from a distance and appears ordinary to merit attention, devoid of any luxurious trappings. But a closer look at the name board and it gives away the identity of the owner. The farm is called ‘Anuvana’ and the name Ananthamurthy is scribbled on it.
Located 23 km from Mysore, Alanahalli became famous as the native place of Srikrishna Alanahalli, a Kannada writer of repute who died at the young age of 41 in the late 1980s. It was sometime in the mid 1980s when Srikrishna Alanahalli encouraged U.R. Ananthamurthy, who was his close friend, to buy a farm and be close to nature.
“So a nine-acre plot opposite Srikrishna Alanahalli’s farm was purchased by Dr. Ananthamurthy and was developed by a reliable farmhand from Teerthalli,” according to Ramesh, Director of the local cooperative bank.
The farmhouse, which is lush green now, was a desolated wasteland then and was purchased at the prevailing rate of around Rs. 6,000 an acre, said Mr. Ramesh, who has a farm in the adjoining site. “People of the village recognised Dr. Ananthamurthy as he would appear on television and knew him as a writer of repute,” he told The Hindu.
Prema, who looks after the farm, said she had not seen Dr. Ananthamurthy as she was appointed five-months ago. But her husband had worked in the farm for many years and had left for Bangalore early in the day to pay his last respect.
“Dr. Ananthamurthy visited the farm more than a year ago and that was the last time we saw him. But there was a time when he would visit frequently and stay for four to five days. However, it was confined to one or two days in recent years,” recalled Mr. Ramesh.
There is a small elevation in the farm land where a cottage was built and it was here that Dr. Ananthamurthy would spend some time to recoup and energise himself amidst the greenery. The reading room has a rack full of old collections of Dr. Ananthamurthy, a few paintings and wooden furniture.
Prema and her son pulled out an old portrait painting — depicting Dr. Ananthamurthy — from the racks in the reading room. It was dusted, cleaned and the mother and son applied vermillion and paid homage to a writer of whom they had only heard but not seen.