Prema Nandakumar on Maalan’s short stories (The Hindu)

 

SIRU KATHAIKAL — Short Stories: Malan; Kizhakku Pathippakam, No. 16, Karpagambal Nagar, Mylapore, Chennai-600004. Rs. 180.

THE TAMIL generation that remained dewy-eyed about the remembered village is now an almost extinct species. Today, the writer who tries to break out of the “Chakravyuha” made up of sex, crime, corruption and betrayal is left asking questions when searching for a way out of the fatal circle. He can get no answers. Malan’s questions in his collection of 53 stories also find no answers.

In his foreword, Prabhanjan touches upon the cultural degradation in Tamil Nadu which has made it impossible for a civilised level of discourse, “This group broke up Ganesh idols. Burnt the Puranas. In the name of a critical approach to Sita and other Puranic characters, the group delighted in despicable diction inappropriate to public platforms. As a result, woman was once again disrobed in the court of men. Culture sank into the Bay of Bengal.”

Struggling against this amazing hypnosis which includes a filmy view of love that has destroyed countless youngsters full of promise, Malan sets down an authentic recordation of the social history of our times.

But a Bharati lover like Malan also points to the distant sunshine. So we have here the helpless cobbler who will not break the temple hundi, the noble renunciate, the disabled musician who endures and the childless Anni who personifies selfless love. In spite of sounding oratorical at times, his photographic style carries the day.

Music is the food of emotion for him and even his science fiction story is about a musician and his robot, Yakshini. The parallel-lines method of telling a tale by syncopating two strands (the aged politician and young Raghunathan in “Poykal Kazhuthaikal”, for instance) brings out effortlessly the various oppressions that foul the atmosphere. When frustration builds up to a high degree, Malan’s pressure valve hisses always in English, “You are traders on sex!” “They are seized with inaction!” Voila!

PREMA NANDAKUMAR

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