Sunday, October 5, 2014

Spandikkunna Changambuzha - P I Sankara Narayanan - Book Review

The death of his strict father gave Kochukuttan unrestricted freedom and he exploited it to its brim. One day when he came to his mother with a bleeding hand and in tattered clothes, all hell broke loose. In anguish, she beat him, black and blue.

Surprisingly, the next day, the little boy did not feel even a slight pain of the punishment he got the other day, instead he rode a wave of imagination and wrote “Thrikkanpuramennu Perullorambalam Balakrishnan thante vasadesham kuttichakkalayam veedinte mumbile kuttikkadulla kalipradesham” - and thus he went on completing 150 lines.

This was the first creative outburst of Changampuzha Krishnapillai, the celebrated Malayalam poet of Kerala, says P I Sankaranarayanan in his new work ‘Spandikkunna Changampuzha’, a book written solely with the purpose of getting children acquainted with the acclaimed poet.

Through this book, the author has undoubtedly and beautifully introduced Changampuzha to children. The book opens with two siblings Prasad and Amrita approaching an uncle living near their house to collect information about the celebrated poet. Every morning, they would come to him to learn about Changampuzha right from his childhood days to death.

The author has given more focus to introduce the person himself rather than speaking about his poetry alone. It could have alienated the little readers. Perhaps, the author might have thought that the creative work could be best understood when an opportunity is given to know the author himself. But, he did not forget to introduce Changampuzha’s poems and at the right context.

Sankaranarayanan also leaves valuable messages for children here and there, not explicitly but beautifully interwoven with many stories about the poet. The book evokes nostalgia and also good for grown-ups who do not know Changampuzha. It might prove useful, if an elder reads the story to much younger children.

In fact, this book has made me want to read ‘Nakshathrangalude Snehabhajanam’ by M K Sanu, the biography of Changampuzha Krishna Pillai.

While narrating, the author also introduces other prominent poets and authors. One such is Edappalli Raghavan Pillai.

At the outset, there existed a friction between Edappalii and Changampuzha. But, it gradually faded away as the years flew by. Giving a rude shock, when Edappalli committed suicide, Changampuzha wrote ‘Ramanan’, an elegy which was the one of the best works written by him. Edappalli had confided in him that he had fallen in love with a woman from a rich family. “Nissaramayoru pennumoolam nithyanirashayaal ninte kaalam ee vidham pazhakkukennano jeevithadharmamennathorthunokku,” Changampuzha wrote in ‘ Ramanan’.

But that the same author too fell into the trap called ‘Love’ is another irony, says the author. Though Sankaranarayanan has not written much about various forms of poetry, he has mentioned about ‘Pastoral Elegy’ in the book. ‘Ramanan’ was written in this form.

In the backdrop of an idyllic rural life, the shepherds narrates the story, he puts it in a rather simple way. The author has also mentioned the name of writers like Ulloor, Vallathol, E V Krishnawarrier and Puthezhathu Raman Menon who would definitely prompt children with a creative bend of mind to learn more about them in detail.

The flow of the narration has not been interrupted except once when the all good and prankster little Changampuzha turns into an alcohol addict. The transformation has not been explained well.

It might be because the author only wanted to impart those details about the poet which could be comprehended by the children. It would definitely be a loss, if your child has not read this book. The story ends when the two children along with the uncle pays a visit to Changampuzha Park to visit his graveyard.


In the end, the author does not forget to give Changampuzha’s two famous poems ‘ Kavyanarthaki’ and Manaswini’, the chronology of the great poet’s life and the name of all his works.

published in The New Indian Express, 2014
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