by Jash Kriplani
Sivasankari was born into a Tamil Iyer family in 1942, and was brought up in Chennai. Hers was a conservative Tamil family, proud of its rituals and customs. It’s ironic that this claustrophobic environment drew Sivasankari to the world of literature, where she could express herself with freedom.
One night Sivasankari was made to wash a grindstone because she was incapable of conceiving a child. The ritual led her to write down her thoughts. By the time she was done ,she had a short-story.
When she was young, the writer and activist was deeply devoted to the fine arts. Being the great grand-daughter of Harikesanallur Muthaiah Bhagavathar, the Tamil music legend, Sivasankari has been blessed with a melodious voice. She is also an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer, having performed in about 14 concerts.
After 37 novels, 48 novellas and 150 short-stories, Sivasankari snubbed fiction for 16 years. She focused on her first project as a publisher, ‘Knit India through literature.’ She thought that though we call ourselves Indians, we hardly know each other as fellow countrymen. ‘Knit India through Literature’ – available in four volumes containing literatures from the South, the East, the West and the North of India – looks at disparate peoples and cultures, Indians nevertheless, through the eyes of their storytellers, their authors. It is an ambitious attempt to highlight unity in diversity.
In her thoughts and actions, Sivasankari is an incorrigible humanist. Every now and then, she becomes an acutely sensitive critic of our society. She has written on drug abuse, alcoholism and women’s issues. When she wrote ‘Oru Manithanin Kathai,’ a story about a drunkard, many alcoholics instantly identified with the character . Sivasankari’s words persuaded hundreds to begin treatment. Her ‘Paalangal’ shows how patriarchal traditions and mores are sustained at the cost of women’s freedom. Men’s anxiety about women’s sexuality is really a reflection of their insecurity about their own manhood.
Sivasankari has received many awards for her works. But her greatest gift is her acute empathy which has made her the beautiful human being she has blossomed into.
 “The message has to be sugar-coated so that it tastes very good,” Rediff on the Net.
 “We Connect – Sivasankari” (Interview with Sivasankari). NDTV Hindu. April 11, 2010.