Saturday, February 09, 2013

ഭാരതപ്രദര്‍ശന ശാല - സി . അഷ്റഫ്

Kuttayi Moopan's introduction to the Independent Movement and Congress is accidental. It was during the agitation across the country,  the famous 'Dandi March' of Gandhiji, when Indian National Congress members across the country marched to the nearest sea shore in order to 'make salt from the sea water as a part of disobedient movement. A significant moment of Indian Independent struggle, has its own versions across the various part of the country. Koman Nair, the leader of the Congress in Ponnani, along with the large number of workers and supporters of Congress, dried , precipitated the River water and in order to produce the lime from the water. At the crucial moment, they realised there is no one had a match box to light the fire ( being good samaritans, Congress workers do not have the habit of smoking). It was Kuttayi Moopan, young boy in his teens, who came to witness the historical moment, had to step in and provide the necessary fire power to a successful campaign. A relation started in 1931, continued despite the changes that swept the country as well as the Indian National Congress. Under guidance and support from Koman Nair and other leaders Kuttayi became attached to the movement. The independence wasnt as exciting as it was expected. The issues related partition , the death of Gandhiji and the general chaos that prevailed after that disappointed many of the freedom fighters. Koman Nair, retired into his 'newly build' ashram neat the river. 

Following the footsteps of his leader, it is Kuttayi's habit, to observe fast during the days of January, culminating on the Martyr day. A habit begun since 1949, the year after the death of Mahatma Gandhi. Single, with no dependants and no one to depend upon, Kuttayi Moopan has his routine of living during the month of January, before and after. A month of utter obedience to rituals are often joined by few friends ( who supports in whatever way they could) and the flora and fauna of the village. Birds, trees, squirrels, rats and others adjust themselves to  Kuttayi's style for that one month.

There aren't many old timers left. The generation, spend a lifetime of their to the independent is now leaving the planet dejected and angered. Koman Nair, who led the Congress in their town, Moopan's Guru and mentor, is no more. The 'ashram' ( a single room attic) he constructed at the shore of the river is now abandoned, except for the weekly visit of Kuttayi Moopan. He can not leave the place, as he is entrusted with the task of taking the last interview of the old generation, named and numbered in a notebook, before their imminent death. There aren't many, left. Kuttayi Moopan himself is not in any great health, as the age has shown its power on a body that is build and strengthened by the hard labour and a truthful life style.

The book is through the 30 days of January, as Kuttayi Moopan set about to observe another month of martyrs remembrance. It takes us through the post independent days of the rural Kerala, with all its local flavour. There are tea shop owners, retired army professionals, prostitutes, the lazy workers, the politicians, the erstwhile members of Communist party, now sidelined and inactive as they do not understand the new world politics of economics, the Congress leaders joined party after they won power, who had in their previous avatar as a feudal lord, worked for the British army, often acted against the nationalist leaders. Retired army men, who fought the war along with their mates who are now belongs to the separated Pakistan.The town has its own local replica of the leaders from Nehru, Mahatma, EMS given to their valiant members for their act of similarity to their national leaders.  Kuttayi Moopan is the last of the generation remain to document the last of the men as they prepare for their last journey, until its time for his turn.

One of the issue of this book is the language. For a theme such as this and a build  and construct which is brilliant, the use of words, forming of sentences and paragraphs often gave sour taste. Too many metaphoric sentences spoils the reading experience. Every sentence has some metaphor or other,  it read more like the College Arts Magazine. I'm not sure if it only me, but a bit more control or a little restraint would have made this novel a treat to the readers. So was with the aspect of magical realism and his writing of intimate affairs. Almost all the time, it stooped to a level of porn fiction, aesthetically poor  and repulsive.

Apart from that, every thing else in this book was very good. Brilliant theme, nice structure and progression, and though predictable, beautiful finish. Every characters that came in and went, all the sub plots and narration were brilliant and vivid.  He has the substance and vision, but he will need to work on his language and style of delivery.
ഭാരത പ്രദര്‍ശന ശാല  ( Bharata Pradarshana Shala 2010)

C Ashraf

D C Books

310 Pages

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