THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Russian artist Maltseva Evgeniya who was holding an exhibition at Russian Culture Centre here had a surprise visitor on Sunday. She was alone in the hall with her paintings, mostly sketches of life in Russia, when a grey-haired man in a crumpled white shirt ambled in. “This is Sitaram Yechury, the national general secretary of CPM,” the honorary Russian consul general, Ratheesh C. Nair, introduced the man. Ms Evgeniya was overwhelmed to have the biggest Marxist leader in the country at her exhibition. In her excitement, she told Mr Yechury that her maternal grandfather was a top Communist leader.
Suddenly for Yechury, it was like meeting a family member. He was accompanied by another CPM politburo member M. A. Baby and CPM leader Dr Sivadasan. The artist, who looked flattered by the august presence, took the leaders around, giving them a brief account of each of her paintings. A unique work was a sketch of Fyodor Dostoyevsky with the writer Perumbadavam Sreedharan. The sketch was done on an impulse on Sunday morning after the honorary consul told her about Perumbadavam’s almost telepathic connection with Dostoevsky, and how the Russian great had guided the Malayali writer to pen his classic Oru Sankeerthanam Pole.
Evgeniya was so moved by the bond that she insisted on meeting Perumbadavam right then. Mr Nair promptly arranged to bring Perumbadavam to the exhibition hall where an excited Evgeniya painted the writer, and his inspiration, live. She sketched Dostoyevsky like a divine spirit whispering secrets in the ear of Perumbadavam. Mr Yechury seemed hooked by the sketch and was heard probing about Perumbadavam’s experience. ‘Crime and Punishment’ was a work that had mesmerised him, too. Ms Evegeniya then asked whether Mr Yechury had been to St Petersburg, Dostoyevsky’s place. “Unfortunately no,” he said, flashing his impish smile.