The blog Vallikkunnam.com was started in 2008. To its author, Basheer Vallikkunnu, an NRI and writer, it was a virtual space to store away his writings that appear in print media. But very soon, the discourses facilitated by the space catapulted the blog into the spotlight. Frequently updated by the author and meticulously followed by readers, it grew into one of the most popular blogs that discuss the social milieu of Kerala. The book, ‘Ninakku Thattamittoode Penne’, is a compilation of 31 articles published on the blog.
The reach and influence of what is termed as new media is still in the reckoning and so are the codes by which it should or should not abide. While the gray areas are aplenty, the potential of social media to open up dialogues is immense, as blog writers have proved before. Over the last 8 years, around 450 articles have been published on the blog. They touch upon a variety of topics that were talking points at various times. Some are also revisited on several occasions for their topical interest.
Religious fundamentalism is repeatedly discussed by the author in his writings. Distinctly vocal about the regressive codes dictated by fundamentalist factions within the Muslim community to which he belongs, anti-fanaticism has been the hallmark of Vallikkunnu’s writings. His objective take on of Islamic terrorism and its aftermath on the community elevated the blog to the stature of a collective of progressive-minded brethren. It has helped ignite and sustain a constructive critique of Islam among other issues.
The title of the book borrows from this essentially radical stand point that the author has maintained. ‘Ninakku Thattamittode Penne’ is a refrain that parodies the bigoted dictums that require the Muslim woman to relegate herself to a position of insignificance. On the same note, there are several articles that discuss the urgent need of a spiritual and moral cleaning up within the community.
Interestingly, the introductory section is an introspection on new media, the space that makes the blog possible. The audaciously titled ‘Remya Nambeesan kulikkunu, ellavaram odi varoo’ is a though-provoking statement on sensationalism that is at the core of social media.
With sections on art, culture, literature, travel, and social issues, and a warm obituary on Sukumar Azhikkode, the book offers a veritable fare that caters to a wide cross-section of readers.
The relevance of the book is in that it bears testimony to the coming of age of new media; its undeniable role as a space to vocalise opinions freely. The print form is at the most a documentation of discourses taking place on a dynamic platform. The book is published by Kairali Books.