When Guns Bleed Ink – The New Indian Express
Express press service
COONOOR: It was 1999, the Kargil Valley was gripped by gunshot wounds and plumes of uncertainty. One might have feared that the valor of the soldiers in keeping their lives would be buried under the bloody snow. What helped a jawan, Dr. Peruka Raju, to deny the perils of war was his childhood habit of fighting crises with a weapon mightier than the sword. The officer, currently stationed as a junior officer at the Madras Regimental Center (MRC) in Wellington in the Nilgiris, rose to fame by converting his experiences into books.
The 45-year-old soldier turned officer hails from a small village of Narasingapoor in Telangana. His father Anandham, who worked as a day laborer in the agricultural fields, died prematurely. Raju then had to provide for the daily needs of his mother Bhoolakshmi, who also had to take care of his brother and sister. “I was then admitted to a government hostel offering free food and accommodation. Given the extreme poverty of my home, this helped me find food and clothing. I did my first studies in a public school in my village. I switched to a nearby government school in Chandurthi for grades 6 to 10,” he said.
It was during this period that he set foot in the field of literature. “In the early days, poverty was the central theme, and the desire of the poor to break down this cruel barrier. Later, my topics spanned a wide web – culture, tradition, rural life and how society can play a role in eradicating poverty,” he said. “My first poem was published in 1987 for a student edition of a Telugu newspaper. My first news was in class 11, six years later. A lot of my creative work has been published in school and college magazines,” he said.
Completing his studies, guided by his artistic fervor, Raju traveled to the city of Sircilla, where he studied at a government college. Also, with the help of philanthropists, he went to SRR Government Arts & Science College in Karimnagar to pursue a B.Com. From there he took a leap of faith by joining the Indian Army at Secunderabad. “My first collection of poems, ‘Raj Mata’, was published in 1996. A philanthropist, Kurra Srinivas, sponsored my first book. Dr. Nakimela Bhaskar (Govt Junior College) and Dr. G Lakhman Rao (SRR Govt College) also encouraged me to write it. All of the remaining 12 books were published after I joined the military,” he said.
Reviving memories of his military life, Raju said that apart from serving in the URI sector during the Kargil war, dealing with the security of two former presidents – Prathibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee – at Rashtrapati Bhavan was a highlight of his 26th birthday. long military career. With a group of military men behind Raju, he excelled in three categories of writing: poems, short stories, and translating English and Hindi books into Telugu, winning numerous awards.
Coinciding with the formation day of Telangana, the Speaker of the Telangana Legislative Council, Gutha Sukhender Reddy, released Dr. Peruka Raju’s 13th book titled ‘Avva’ which is an anthology of 15 short stories in which the obstacles to poverty for a family are explored. He also bagged “Telangana Animuthyam 2022” and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Telangana Legislative Council this year. “For the final award, MRC Commander Brigadier SK Yadav expressed his appreciation. In the past, the army had given me financial incentives as a sign of love,” he recalls.
In a bid to spread the love he received and impart an education to a younger version of himself, Raju started an NGO “My Gift” 21 years ago. “We have installed new benches and desks for grades 6 to 10 in the public school in my village and instituted a cash prize of 5,000 to the student who obtains the first rank in the exam for class 10. Many have gotten good jobs through our scholarships,” he said.
From the sub-zero temperatures of J&K to the sand dunes of Rajasthan, the smell of the pages of Raju’s book of life emanates from endurance. Over time, the officer-turned-jawan might smile at what Stephen King once said, “You can have my gun, but you’ll take my book when you pull my cold, dead fingers from the binding.”