The Nectar Stream of Thottangal

Dr. K.M. Tharakan

(A study of Thottangal (a novel by Kovilan)
Translated from Malayalam by A. Purushothaman

Thottangal is one of the most powerful novels of Malayalam. It is not inappropriate to qualify this work as a modern classic. Novelists like Thakazhi, Dev, Basheer, S.K. Pottekat and Uroob provided a renaissance to Malayalam novel; they led it to a fully bright horizon. Generally speaking, their view of life, even that of Basheer, was ultimately optimistic. It seems they believed that, in the battle of life, man and good will triumph at least in the ultimate moment. But, by the sixties, this attitude of Indians changed a little. It appeared as though the horizon was becoming darkened. Man is fighting bravely against his own fate and against a hostile environment. But will he succeed essentially? Is not life sorrowful? Kovilan and Parappurath miraculously succeeded for the first time in implying this change which occurred to the Keralite mind as well, just as to the Indian mind. Superficially, their view of life appear to be similar; but a minute examination clarifies that there are significant differences between their approaches and ways of writing. Speaking in a sense, while the male power manifests itself in the works of Kovilan, the female beauty waves through the novels of Parappurath. Even though a comparative study between the works of Kovilan and Parappurath is useful, we do not attempt to do it here.

In the initial stages, Kovilan and Parappurath wrote novels based on experiences gained from military life. After writing the novel, Ninamaninja Kalppadukal (Bloodstained footsteps), Parappurath turned his attention away from the world of soldiers to the fields of life of common people. But Kovilan continued writing novels giving new interpretations to his own experiences of army life. Even though, the background of his novels, namely A minus B, Ezhamedengal (Wives), Thazhvarakal (Valleys) and Himalayam was army life, each of these novels unveiled different facets of life. Generally speaking, sobs of men who failed struggling against formidable situations reverberate in these works.

Kovilan's view of life is tragic. It is not the belief that man is destined to fail which forms the basis of this view; since death makes life meaningless there is no doubt that life is a big battle. Man is fighting bravely in the battlefield of life. But he often fails due to man-made or destined, or circumstantial obstructions. The courage evinced by him in the battle generates a measure of hope. But just as man is an adventurer, to some extent, he is helpless also. Even though he is born free, he is in chains everywhere.

In Thottangal Kovilan leaves the world of army and enters his own society. How is our society? What is its structure? What is the relation between man and society? Is man the creator or creation of surroundings? On further thinking there will sprout forth some impressions about these in the minds of people like us. A creative writer gets down to the depth of life. No one has explained how geniuses achieve this. Poet is a visionary. He sees what others can't see. That is a sight, a vision, a real revelation. That is epiphany. A sight, similar to the sighting of (twice seven) fourteen worlds in the mouth of child Krishna. Some people describe this as vision. Novel and poetry are metaphors or embodiments given to such visions. Just as word assumed body, revelation becomes embodiment. We can say that embodiment is a complex and complete image.

Thottangal is the revelation Kovilan had about his own society. Thottangal means feelings or sentiments. Feelings include past memories also. These memories may be about lost grandeur. In that case, these become ballads and psalms. Sometimes the memories will be immersed in sorrow. These will be about failures, losses and death. Then these become elegies. Thottangal pulsates with the feelings of the main characters. Their basic voice is sorrowful. Through Thottangal , Kovilan, even as he conducts a deep study about a society, plumbs the minds of some of the characters. Thottangal, by picturising life, also implies its inner meanings.

Through the feelings that is Thottangal a powerful story is blooming. This story is intimately intermingled with the social structure of Kerala. Just as in a story, the characters and incidents originate from each other, the plot of the novel and the society are deeply intertwined. It is in this rare union that we perceive Kovilan's writing skill and artistry. Many critics point out that Modern Novel does not need a story or plot. But even today, the relevance of E.M. Forster's words Story, damn it, is essential is not lost. Any novel will have a story in some shape - even the most modern absurd novel. Everything is also an epic which highlights that this happened this way. Any new realization should materialize through an epic of some kind.

The epic of Thottangal is radiating through the stream of consciousness of an old woman called Unnimol. Thottangal is not a pure stream of consciousness. Even though, often, various stream of consciousness are connected to each other by the direct narration of the story teller, the peculiarity of the art of narration herein is that we are unaware of this fact. There are many similarities between stream of consciousness and flashback. Flashback is the method of casting the light of memory on an incident that occurred before. In flashback the past, present, and future time is not intermingled, events are bound by their sequence. The incidents which happened clarify as they happen in flashback. In stream of consciousness, time does not maintain the relation of sequence. The time in stream of consciousness is not based on clock, but on mind. Often, in stream of consciousness, incidents and attitudes are presented through images. In Thottangal many memories have acquired this rare imagery as in stream of consciousness. Some memories still remain as flashback. This method has gifted a rare artistic beauty to the novel. At the same time, because of the same reason, the novel has become too difficult for the general readers.

The similarity between human mind and river is natural. Both remain flowing. Below the peaceful sky, devoid of clouds, unperturbed by nightmares the river flows weaving beauty. As far as Unnimol was concerned the childhood and adulthood were times of prosperity. Beyond the fields, at Thekkekkara, when mother was frolicking as a maiden, tender green buds sprouted over deep blue waters. The leaves blossomed and spread out as a palette ... . Enjoying the fragrance of water lilies, across the waters, across the fields, encircling the island, through the stream, crossing the ferry, mother arrived as a bride. Went back pregnant. Came again as mother. In between, how many a time, paddy fields teemed, released, danced in the wind, a golden spread.

Unnimol was born and brought up on the banks of the river and the field. The stream had encircled Vadakkekkara where she went to reside. Thus her mind, the river, and the field became intermingled. When Unnimol was married, the state of the stream and the field changed, at one stage a fearsome flood up-heaved her and the country. Now Unnimol's mind is not a calm stream. It's nature is that of a river which became fearsome in the flood. Two incidents connected with the flood are shaking up her subconscious and unconscious minds. Thottangal begins with the nightmares of Unnimol about the flood.

Now Unnimol is sixty eight years old. The beats of her life went wrong first with her marriage. She was born in a fairly well-to-do family. When her marriage took place, she had not only her younger brother, but also father and grand father. Unnimol's powerhouse was her father. Only that good man, who was a true farmer, was able to provide her with a total feeling of protection. But, in the house everything was managed by the grand father. The tail should not wag when the head is there. It was Chennadan Sekharan who came first with a marriage proposal for Unnimol. But the grand father rejected the proposal stating that he was from an outcast family. Our society is still unable to abandon the caste and subcaste considerations. The second proposal was that of Narayanan from Onapparamba, who had the color of a ripe odappazham (A golden colored fruit). The fair-skinned Narayanan captured Unnimol's heart. But Narayanan's family gave up the proposal saying that Unnimol is deaf. By then, a shed was erected on the front yard of Unnimol's house in anticipation of the marriage. Hence the grand father was bent on giving away Unnimol to a somewhat suitable person in the same shed. He married off the grand daughter to healthy Chennappan from Aradikkadavu, who was pitch black as a black stone. Women get consoled saying that girls' affairs are just a turn of luck. But, we feel like asking ourselves whether this is true to that extent. Is man a toy of fate? Or is he a creation of surroundings?

Thottangal raises a fundamental question of mental peace regarding women. With the passage of time, which male figure occupies a woman's mind? Her own father's, lover's, husband's or son's? It was Carl Jung who said that, each man was searching for his Anima and each woman is searching for her Animus. Even in old age, the figure which occupied Unnimol's mind was that of her father. She was unable to love her husband. This man has not given me any peace or happiness till now. He gave five children to bear.} Unnimol was father's pet baby. Unnimol's hero is father himself. {\it Unni, papa is a male, this is the callus of plough, on the palm. All these are of spades, in between the fingers. ... . Papa's open, broad chest thrust on forward. ... - Unnimol is seeking strength in her father. But, now father is no more. Papa is dead and gone . Unnimol is still burdened with the memories of flood in her mind. The effects of the flood of the year (M.E) Ninety Nine were terrible. Then Unnimol was at her husband's house. It was feared that the banks of fields in Kadavilthara might collapse and all may go under water. Then Chennappan took the pregnant Unnimol in a boat through flood waters to her house. While climbing on to the boat which was brought to the front yard, through the rushing flood waters, there were lamps and lights and people and calls and a great din... . They sent Unnimol off. Unnimol, you go! We may survive, or perish. In your womb lies the seed of this family. The flood was over. Unnimol was delivered of the first son Gopi. She again came to Vadakkekkara. Afterwards, she gave birth to four children. Malu, Nandini, Divakaran and Devani are the four children born after the birth of Gopi. All are now adults. Even now, in Unnimol's mind, the memoir of the old flood have not yet smothered. Her mind which is a river, often gets completely mixed up, up heaved and then gushes on as if in a flood. Then to support her, father was alive. Now, lying on her deathbed and seeing nightmares, Unnimol is unable to invoke her father.

The thoughts about another flood which is retold and the memories of a flood witnessed directly are completely intermingled. In the stream of consciousness of Unnimol in the first chapter of the novel, the stories of both floods flow completely mixed. What was narrated was the heroic story of the great grand father of Chennappan. When the labour pain of the lady of Aradi Mana prolonged up to the third day, the Namboodiri ventured out looking for the physician. The physician prescribed the medicine. Namboodiri, on return should pluck a certain green leaf available in the backyard of Mana and squeeze it putting it on the palms of the lady. But on the way back to the Mana, the boat got in to a gush of flood water. The brave boatman brought the boat to the land even in the flood. Afterwards, Namboodiri saw the boatman drowning in the flood waters Namboodiri reached the Mana. The family tree survived. But the boatman died. Namboodiri gifted hundred measures of land to Chennappan the son of the boatman. Chennappan, the husband of Unnimol is the great grandson of that Chennappan. That family enjoyed feeding and entertaining people. They gave food to the southerners and northerners who came to cross the river. Chennan, the father of Chennappan managed gymnasium. The family lost the land, by the time of Chennappan. Chennappan's source of income was the boat. When a bridge was constructed across the stream, the boat became useless. Chennappan had to depend on his children for living. He made a little money by selling the offsprings of a white bitch. With progress of time the powerful Chennappan became totally dependent, devoid of any support. Thinking about this, in Unnimol's mind, besides one flood, another flood takes place. Her mind becomes completely mixed up.

Chennadan Sekharan, who first proposed marriage to Unnimol, became rich within a short time. For a long time, he was smuggling prohibited items in Chennappan's boat. Chennappan had ferried many teachers this side and that side. But none of them became millionaires. Sekharan bought fields and plots. {\it He made the island, where even the dogs do not enter, an Eden}. {\it He used to live catching shell fish from river. He will go to the island, cook and eat. He is a Maravan\footnote{Member of an aboriginal tribe of South India.}, a Maravan}. For many people that is an unsolved riddle. {\it From where do the people get money?} Sekharan's wife is yellow. {\it Who knows which China she comes from? They say, the entire money belongs to her}. It was said to be for her, a bridge was built across the river. There is no point thinking like this. Sekharan became rich. Even though he did not become rich as Sekharan, Onapparamban Narayanan, who was like an {\it odappazham}, also progressed. His son Vijayan, who is called Biju, is an engineer. And handsome too. The younger brother of Unnimol also did not weaken. He was educated. His daughter Kathy became a doctor.

In fact the novelist is not of the view that everything is shattering in our times or everyone is failing. The problem is with the setup and the structure of society. It is due to the problem of structure that, in our society the rich became rich and the deprived grow poorer. Why did Unnimol's life become completely sorrowful? Why does she say that she is lying on her deathbed? Why was Unnimol unable to adapt any method other than suicide as her mode of protest? In seeking answers to these questions, we are compelled to find answers to some of the basic dilemmas regarding human liberation.

Looking from whatever angle, Unnimol's grandfather is a representative of the old generation. He is full of pride about his family and its nobility. All matters at home should be conducted according to his decision. It may be right or wrong. The young generation has no right to voice any opinion. Unnimol's father was unable to face the elder people with pride and maturity, like Madhavan of Indulekha . The marriage with Unnimol was being thrust up on Unnimol. Since the shed was already erected on the front yard, the grand father's decision was that the marriage must take place in that shed itself. He was able to say many good things about Chennappan. Thus Unnimol's marriage was decided. But her younger brother escaped. He was able to study. Since they adopted professions suitable to the times, that brother and his daughter Kathy progressed well.

Even though he lost his life racing against the flow, Chennappan's great grandfather was a hero who succeeded. Chennan, who earned land from the Namboodiri, the landlord of Aradi Mana, had many opportunities to grow and prosper. But in the intoxication of the kindness shown by the Namboodiri of the Mana, he was unable to absorb the beats of time and to understand the progress of time. By giving feasts, managing a gymnasium and acting as a local leader, Chennan lost all his property. The trouble with landlords and their dependants was that since none of them had earned their wealth by hard work, they did not feel anything wrong in swindling it. One can't say that Chennappan did not work at all. But he had not inherited any vision or wisdom. When he earned money, he was unable to save it. Even when Divakaran told him that when the bridge comes up across the river, the boat would become useless, he was not convinced. {\it The boat should be sold. ... . Chennan was taken aback. When the bridge was built, the son asked, now what? The boat was kept tied on the edge of the field.} Our age is entering the age of computers very fast. By that time if new jobs are not created, many who are employed will lose their jobs. Chennappan has no source of income. How will he live? How will he be able to provide a happy life to Unnimol?

With the progress of time, these types of men who failed in life nurture an attitude of looking upon their children as milch cows. Kovilan is of opinion that the father who wishes that his adult children should earn and send him money, however far they go or whatever job they do, is in fact as good as sacrificer of his children. Through the novel Bharathan Kovilan has established that hunger is the most burning issue as far as a living man is concerned. Chennappan wishes that Gopi and his other children should give him money. But it is not possible for Gopi who works in Delhi, to help anybody. Gopi's letter reveals the nature of the helplessness of today's typical middle class official. {\tt Till now we were staying in a single room. Now, we have got a flat big enough for a small family. For that, I had to give five thousand rupees as deposit. Besides, many unaccounted overheads. What to say more? I am distressed by all this.}. {\it Mother wept in the tune of the letter.} This is the status of a petty official in India. As for the unemployed there are many. The eldest daughter of Chennappan Malu did typing in the Taluk Office. What did her mother do? Just delivered. Nandini knows to stitch well. Be Happy. For anyone, she will stitch only that. The customers can have the threads of their liking. These girls are unmarried. But they maintain the house. The youngest sister Devani has learnt Hindi. The hope is that Devani will become a Hindi teacher. Divakaran is an Oracle. He also gets something. Even though he is not that well-educated, Divakaran is knowledgeable about the world. But he knows that there is no use of telling his father a proper way. Chennappan boasts that it is he who redeemed the plot sold by his own father on trust. To make money, he even did smuggling in his boat.

Unnimol desired many things. She did not get Narayanan who was as plumb as an odappazham . Let it go. It would have been equally good if Biju had married Devani. This is a sweet dream of Unnimol. Another dream was that Divakaran would marry her own brother's daughter Kathy. But what happened actually? Biju married Kathy. Those who weave meaningless dreams and try to fly up by holding on to the frills thereon, fall in to the deep pit of despair. Unnimol tried to nurse dreams which were drooping before sprouting. She was a dreamer by birth, never practical. At the same time, Chennappan's practical sense was both heartless and visionless. The fact that he decided to sacrifice Devani for his own financial improvement reveals the brutality of the dehumanization he undergoes.

It is said that money converts man in to a devil. Just as hunger is devil, craving for money is also devil. Getting caught in its grip, Chennappan persuades Devani to marry a middle class old man, who is already married. Chennappan has work, wealth, pride , being - he has all four. He does not have all four. Isn't he living? Is this life? But Chennappan can live only like this. Devani's marriage was planned in an attempt to rewrite his own life. She said resolutely, Don't sell me to a person having wife and three children . Father said, I am not selling you. Three properties worth four thousand rupees will be registered in your name . She did not agree. Chennappan got wild. Chennappan's expert fingers caught her neck. Her mouth opened. Eyes filled. Rounded, Protruded. On her protruding tongue life flickered. Devani's luck. At that moment she (a calf) came running with a broken neck. She screamed through the open wound. With that cry, Chennappan's grip on Devani's neck loosened . The calf who came running escaping from the butcher's knife was indeed the symbol of Devani? The cruelties committed by Chennappan were extremely shocking beyond what Unnimol could bear.

Even otherwise, Unnimol had several minor health problems. A pain in the back bone, weakness of the body. Her mind is completely shattered. She had several sweet dreams. Many of them became distraught. Despair engulfs them. Unnimol visualizes the marriage between Divakaran and Kathy. She was hoping to see this for a long time ... . On the silver plate kept above the new clothes, the incense sticks, stuck on the Kadali (Best kind of banana) fruits, emitted flavoured scents. Suddenly flames lept on to the incense sticks. ... . Divakaran was on fire. Kathy was on fire. The shed was in flames. Nirapara\footnote{A full measure of paddy heaped for ceremonial offerings} was on fire and the flowers bloomed. Mother looked on helplessly. Shed was empty. On screaming, the sound does not come up. The devil's fingers caught mother's throat with pliers... . . In such a stream of thought, there is an empty shed erected for Unnimol's marriage with Narayanan, which did not take place. There is also a sweet picture of a marriage which may happen (also there is the outcome of fate which engulfed it completely). The fingers on mother's neck are simply the fingers of Chennappan which squeezed Devani's neck. The expertise of Kovilan in presenting such scattered thoughts through broken images generates pleasure and surprise in us.

Narayanan's son Vijayakumar had come to Chennappan's house to buy the litter of the white bitch; not to ask for Devani's hand. But that young man revives many old memories and some new hopes in Unnimol.

Vijayakumar asked:
Seems like mother knows us before?
Can she say that? Who told about familiarity and recognition? The ear is whistling. The ear will burst now. The odappazham which I could not touch and feel is now in front of me
. That odappazham also went far far away from Unnimol. All that Chennappan's wife and daughters expected out of the crow calling for guests from the plantain leaf were in vain. When the crow called, it was the married old man who came. While indicating the beauty, gruesomeness, growth and fall of the Chennadan island, the novelist suggests the beliefs and rituals of the natives.

The feudalism represented by the Namboodiri of Aradi Mana gave way to the capitalism represented by the Sekharan of the Chennadan island. In the new establishment, the officials and the middlemen who sustained the capitalism, lived, in general, comfortably without thinking much about their slavery. Some old families who could not mingle with feudalism or capitalism got shattered. Many of them lost not only their life but also their humanity. Unnimol recites their eulogies. Thottangal is also the song about the man who lost his boat and oar in the flow of water.

It can be said that Unnimol captures all our sympathies. We also remember Divakaran and Devani along with her. The characters of Kovilan are people who deserve sympathy. Is there a reason for us to feel angry with that rich Sekharan? He is the representative of the new capitalism which is leading our times. Biju and Kathy are the educated people who support it. Gopi and his siblings are struggling in the new set up. They swim against the flow. Their liberation is far far away. We should say that we know, whatever salary Gopi gets is not enough. Will Malu, Nandini, or Divakaran be able to lead a happy married life? We can't predict what Devani will do. Perhaps one day she may elope with somebody, leaving her home. Because, the fire of protest is burning within her. Who knows, whether Chennappan may also perish in that fire one day? Surely, Chennappan is not the villain of the story. In the new novels, there are no heroes or villains, there are only deficient people.

Chennappan who failed in life hates himself. That hate becomes his hate towards his wife and children. Poverty made him rough. He believes that children are wealth. It is not possible for him to see children as children. He kept feeding the white bitch only expecting some income from it. It appears that he brought up his children also with the same feelings. On some occasions the hate towards life converts him in to a devil. Not only Divakaran and Devani, he may kill all. But we know that he has struggled a lot. Many times he had led the boat against the current. Also, did not he also earn a lot money? It is clear that it is the failure in life which made him a man hater of this kind. It cannot be forgotten that it was he who raised the children to whatever level they are now. Just as other renaissance novelists, Kovilan does not bring up his characters consciously. They naturally come up through their mode of appearance. We can recognize each character of Thottangal wherever we may see them. We are able to see only some faces of some people. But we are able to understand some people completely; especially Unnimol and Chennappan. A poetical atmosphere of different nature surrounds both of them. Chennappan is living in the boat song. Unnimol is living in sweet dreams chained by nightmares. Besides these main characters there is an active group of supporting people in this novel.

Most of us live in a mental world, in between dream and reality. We hope for something, but we get something else. Unnimol's desire is for {\it odappazham}. But the reality for her is the black stone. Many people in their lives find their own solutions to the distances between reality and hope. There are many who can't find a solution also. As far as Unnimol is concerned, Onapparamban Narayanan is beauty, prosperity, and freedom. Chennappan is ugliness, poverty and oppression. The main reason for the tragedy of Unnimol is that she is unable to match her imagination with reality. If you think minutely, the main reason for the sorrow of many of us is this itself. Where is the golden earth we were to get? Here we are wandering in the darkness unable to locate our goal. Should we elope from this reality? Or should we face it? Unnimol died by hitting her head with the copper thistle. Even though this death is a surrender superficially, this is a strong and powerful protest against the prevailing social structure.

The reality that is Chennappan revives from the Thottam songs which brings the bygone era from the past to the memory. The rhythm and tune of the novel Thottangal is that of the Thottam songs. We feel that the lines of Thottam songs which are quoted in between in the novel and the words and sentences of the novel are of the same tune. Kovilan's language has often roughness and hardness. But all these dissolve effortlessly in the music of the language. Here is the Thottam of the family:
Come, come you boatman
to sanctify the Kalam(Elaborate and colorful floor drawing representing the deity)
Come come you boatman
to sip tender coconut milk
come briskly you boatman
to erase up the Kalam.

Here are another two lines:
Then there were winds and rain clouds
and pitch darkness also descended}.
The style of the novel also invokes these beats and tunes. The green needles decorate the lagoon fields. The greenery swings in the air. A tickled maiden? They fructify. A mother nurturing her first born? It becomes a sea of gold, a morning of Thiruvonam (The national festival of Malayalis in Onam day of the month Chingam.)? Any portion can be quoted from Thottangal . Here is a portion showing how artistically the truths surrounded by falsehood, imagination and reality, past and present are presented through the beats and tunes of the Thottam songs in stream of consciousness:

As mother was lying in the death bed, becoming smaller and smaller, as a maiden, as a little child, she walked along the river bank. Papa walked in front. Grandpa scolded. ... . Papa went looking for kanjunni (A medicinal herb (Eclipta Prostrata).). The child, walking behind, extended her hand towards the water lilies. ... . Looked for papa. ... . Papa searching for kanjunni is a little far away. Papa, flower! Papa doesn't hear.

In the mind of Unnimol which has reached a state of confusion It is not Devani who is in the jeep. Kathy waved bye bye with her hand kerchief. Kathy. The odappazham came to her. The odappazham came for her. She got. She got the odappazham . Oh my papa! Where is the jeep? It stood over the bridge with its way blocked. Between the great walls of the black stone, the chained river lay beating its head . The river is Unnimol. She was dying by beating her head with the copper thistle used for the preparation of chewing gum. Thottangal has a powerful and beautiful structure beginning with Unnimol, traversing through the minds of the relatives of Unnimol, that returns to Unnimol herself and stops at the decisive moment of tragedy. That moment generates powerful reverberations.

Kovilan stands out as the leading star of the eve of transition in the history of Malayalam novel. Kovilan is not a modernist. But the modernists recognize him as the grand master. It is clear that Kovilan's view of life is completely different from the view of life of the renaissance novelists. It was also pointed out that a tragic attitude is reflected in his novels. Along with that we realize that another deep attitude is also contained in them. It is love of human beings which fills the characters of Uroob. The hate and self despise of the characters of M.T were discussed many times. In the works of Parappurath, helpless individuals appear. We observe people who deny life with complete unattatchment, without considering good and bad, in the works of Kakkanadan. Ravi of O.V. Vijayan's Khasakkinte Ithihasam faces life without any attachment. The novelists of the transition do not deny life. At the same time they protest against the false moral values of life. In Kovilan's Thottangal the anger sharpens the sorrow. We can also qualify the novel as a ballad of anger. It is the anger against the structure of society which is the characters of Kovilan express. Why all this became like this? How is this happening? Who is responsible for this terrible situation? How is the liberation from this possible? The renaissance novelists try to give answers to the riddles. The modernists present the riddles as dilemmas to the readers. Kovilan does not attempt to suggest a solution. But he prompts the reader to find a solution. Chennappan and family are angry about the unjustifiable social structure which is prevailing now. Among them, only Unnimol commits suicide. Chennappan is unable to divert his anger towards the society. Gopi and his siblings also should do that. In this society, how far rich can Sekharan grow? How far will he grow? Isn't it also a problem? In our society who is responsible for the suffering of human beings? Like these there are many questions raised by Thottangal .

But what makes Thottangal immensely valuable is not only the social problems or the interpretation of life raised by it, but also the rare beauty of its structure. The novelist is immersed in the novel. The interpretation of life in the novel has become a musical word structure. In this the story, plot, and even the characters are completely dissolved in the harmony of words. It is doubtful whether any other novelist was able to condense in so few words, such powerful feelings. One gets surprised after reading. Many novelists used to pack up many things in the torn sack called novel. Many of them raise powerful sexual memories in the novel. Thottangal is not a torn sack. It is a musical structure. The principal content of Thottangal is the anger ridden tragic sorrow. This attitude rejuvenates our appreciation. It also gives a new understanding about life.

Through the appreciation of Thottangal , we perform the intake of medicinal oil, which rejuvenates the muscles of our soul. I wish and hope that its appreciation will overflow for a long time as a stream of nectar of life in the realm of Malayalam novel.

Dr. K.M. Tharakan
March 8, 1991

Dr. K. M. Tharakan's present address:
'Kizhakkethalakkal', Kaviyoor, Thiruvalla, Kerala, PIN 689 582