Title: Oru Desanthinte Katha
Translated in Tamil as: Oru Gramathin Kathai (The story of a village) by C.A.Balan
Specialty: Winner of Sahitya Academy and Gnanapeet Award
Publisher: Sahitya Academy
Malayalam literature is a beehive of interesting creations and creators. Basheer, MT Vasudevan Nair, Neela. Padmanaban, Thagazhi Sivasankaran Pillai and many more are there who offer a rich writing style and whet the readers’ appettite. S.K.Pottekkad occupies a high place in the ranks of excellent Malayalam writers.
If you have had a wonderful and memorable childhood, especially in the villages, you will feel an instant connection to this story. The story follows the reminiscences of the protagonist Seetharan when he returns after a long time to his native village Athiranipadam in Kerala. The period is set in pre-independent India, 1912 to be exact.
The story has a tag line-His story is the same as theirs. Yes. Our childhood and even our adult life is molded by the impressions we get as a child. The society at large make a huge contribution to one’s childhood years without knowing it. Thus we find Seetharan ruminating about his childhood and the people who made an impression on him then.
The story starts with Seetharan returning to Athiranipadam to find everything has changed from what it was long time ago. He starts by searching for his love Ammukutty and from there, the journey into the past starts.
As each and every character is introduced and their flash back is dealt with in detail, you can’t help but wonder at Pottekkad’s mastery in handling the characters and in giving such a rich, diverse background. We find ourselves reflected in the characters that Pottekkad makes to roam the pages. From Seetharan’s strict disciplinarian father Krishnan Master to his mother to his big brother Kunjappu who is a wastrel at first but who metamorphs into various avatars as ‘Basra’ Kunjappu, ‘Painter’ Kunjappu(the way he becomes a painter is a hilarious one!) to ‘Railway Foreman’ Kunjappu, to the huge mustached Kanaaran to the mischievous Supper Circuit Gang led by painter Sedev and later by Vasu in which Seetharan is a ‘Minor’ member, the hilarious adventures they have at every one’s expense-especially the Mathina hotel episode, the account of exchanging the calendars of the village folks and the theft of the rose flower in a grandiose manner will make you go sick witrh laughter.
Such accounts thrown in with serious portrayal of the character as they display their village simplicity and their grip on values, the strong bondage to each other, the communal riots that threaten to destroy the village’s peace, the nature rich Ilanji Pozhil which has it’s own share of stories where Seetharan spends his vacations, his struggles with mathematics in school and the ways he takes to overcome it, his fascination with poetry and his valiant attempts to get them published bring into your mind a plethora of fantastic feelings.
The novel is a huge one-900 pages nearly but is an engrossing one. It is a must on every reader’s shelf. Especially readers of Malayalam literature.