Tuesday, March 22, 2011

With Appunni in the Naalukettu

This sunday, I picked up 'Naalukettu' for reading.  After buying it a year back when my supervisor spoke about it, I put off reading it till I felt I was ready to spend a day and more with it.  It was worth the wait.

I picked the book after breakfast and didn't have the patience to cook a complete lunch in between.  Appunni pervaded the air around me.  MT takes the reader to Kerala, the time being 50 - 60 years ago when the mindset was different.  He speaks about the society through Appunni.  He speaks as a boy and then as a man.  He makes the reader question and wonder about many things.  Having heard about the customs prevalent among castes in Kerala from my dad, the ritual of 'Pindam vekuka' was not new.  It only reinforced in me the feeling that society was and is to a large extent primarily patriarchal, where the rights of a woman are non-existant, where a woman is forced to accept whatever the 'karanavar' of the family decides.  Here, accepting as husband an old man. 

Set in the period of transition, where new laws were promulgated to free people, the author brings out this aspect subtly through the eyes and ears of Appunni.  He makes us want a better life for Appunni and at the same time, he makes us expect so much more of him.  Appunni behaves in the same way, as is expected of society in general.  It takes him quite sometime to accept his mother's relationship with Shankaran Nair but is ready to make peace with the person who killed his father.  The author through this shows not only Appunni's growing up, but also the maturing of the society around him.   

Being the first novel of the author, I realized that he is god's way of proving his own craftmanship.  He is a masterpiece given that he wrote the novel in three weeks and took a month for editing.  The only sad part is that I am unable to read the novel in malayalam - the pain of a malayalee not well-versed with malayalam.

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