Saturday, February 11, 2012

മറുപിറവി (Marupiravi) - Sethu

Story of the port city of Muziris, is known to most of the school students in kerala. Once a thriving center of trade between Kerala and the rest of the world, the natural port of Muziris lead the way over other towns as the centre of attraction. The pride and popularity of the place is available to us through the 'Sangham Literature'. Partly due to the great flood of of river Periyar in 1341, Muziris was more or less wiped out of the map and newer towns and port cities emerged , Kochazhi ( Kochi) taking prominence.

Even before the celebrated and recorded arrival of Vasco De Gama in 1498, India was engaged in business relationship with the Europeans. However, due to the various political and religious trouble in the Arab world, this path was cut out for the Portuguese , Spanish and Roman kingdom, which resulted in the new route, round the Cape of Good Hope in Africa, thus nullifying the need of Arab support to reach India. However, we later saw the traders turning into colonists and trying to control the continent for their greed. The trade partners turned to be the colonial poweres controlling the assets of this part of the world.

Sethu's celebrated new book on Muziris, looks at the place and surroundings area through the time known to us. From the glory years 2000 odd years before Christ to the 20th century, through the various people and stories of the town. inspired from a recent excavation of the place where the reminds of some of the evidences of the life under influence by the erstwhile Greeko- roman empire, Sethu's protagonist, arrives in his home town from Mumbai to spend his new found free time after retirement. The letter from the professor of Archeology from Tanjavur was indeed an added inspiration. Reaching his hometown from the chaos of the Metro, it did not take long for Aravindan to switch back to the old school boy/college student frame of his homeland. Knitting information and stories from relatives, friends, well wishers and the scientists, it turned out to be natural for Aravindan to pen them down in a piece of paper to keep them for reference. Little did he realise that those tales and stories varied from style , substance and time be the ingredients for a book. The destiny, and the inspiring feedback from those who read his initial pages, got Aravindan to complete what he had begun in Chendamangalam.

Sethu does this mixing of current day protagonists with the everlasting nostalgia of an expatriate for his home to the invented and created possibilities of the tale, to a great effect. As the narration switches between Aravindan and his story which goes from the 'yavana' traders, to the floods to the Paliyam Agitation of 20th century, mixing of myths and recorded history, Sethu crafted a good work of fiction. The parts which is the 'novel within a novel' is more interesting and give justice to the prowess of Sethu as a writer. On the whole, rebuilding history of his town through characters taken from the history and characters invented and crafted on basis of the available information, this is a great attempt.

The style, as discussed, is of double narrative. As Sethu handles his protagonist 'Aravindan' , it is Aravindan who carry the burden of taking the story to the next level. Interesting mix of languages as appropriate to the time and place of narration, the various element of social and religious structure during different time of the era, the subtle undercurrent of the changing social and cultural aspect of Kerala ; Sethu has done the homework well. Despite a few dragging and irrelevant narrative, the book is beautifully crafted and delivered.
മറുപിറവി ( marupiravi - reincarnation)


D C Books

374 Pages

Rs 200
Reviews : Deccan Chronicle, The Hindu , Interview with Sethu

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