KOCHI: Perunna Thomas. The name may not ring a bell among the new-gen Malayalam readers. You could be forgiven if the name sounds unfamiliar even among the older generation of readers.
That may be the reason why D Pradeep Kumar, writer and assistant director, programmer at the All India Radio, Manjeri in Malappuram, took the pains to compile and publish ‘Perunna Thomas kathakal’, a collection of short stories by late Perunna Thomas, regarded as one of the great short stories in Malayalam, but forgotten since half a century.
The book contains eight short story collections and a novella; From ‘Aval’, published in 1945 to ‘Daahippikkunna Rosappu’ (1957) and novella ‘Bhranthumoshanam’.
The stories were also most criticised during those times, especially by the Church, as they lay bare “the moral turpitude of the clergy, nuns and the priests in the monasteries and the Church,” says Pradeep, for whom Perunna Thomas was an inspiration to enter the media profession.
As the son of T V Radhamani, who is the younger sister of Perunna’s wife T Kamalakshi’s, Pradeep had access to the writer’s vast collection of books and magazines at his Kadavanthara house.
Perunna Thomas, after a period of prolific writing for about three decades since 1945, abruptly abandoned writing following the death of his only daughter in 1965. When Perunna died, unsung, at the age of 55 in 1980, he was working on a big novel with an autobiographical touch in the backdrop of Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala.
Aval (1945), Karutha Edukal (1949), Patelum Chiruthayum (1953) Ente Cheethakkathakal (1954), Mishihathampurante Valarthappan (1955), Pazhamayute Prethangal (1955), Karthavinte Aliyan (1955), Daahikkunna Rosappoov (1957), Enikku Dahikkunnu (1958) Karthavinte Aliyan, Daahikkunna Rosappoov (1957), Bhranthumoshanam (1968) are among the noteworthy stories in the book. In fact, Aval, despite not having its initial few pages, still retains its life.
The book is not only a must read for the old and new generation of Malayalam readers, but it is also a historical document for Malayalam literature.
A writer who was forgotten and his works lost in oblivion, was brought back to life. Pradeep Kumar, who compiled the voluminous book after a five-year-long research, should be congratulated for his efforts.