A lost dream never fails to score a coup on the silver screen. And it was never more so, as when a sea of Malayali hearts wept over Nina and Vinayan’s unfulfilled wish to watch a thousand full moons together.
The author of the short story-turned-movie ‘Manivathoorile Aayiram Sivarathrikal’, Omana Gangadharan, has since penned more than a dozen novels. “I am still remembered and loved for the story of ‘Aayiram Siavarathrikal’, which was the title of the original story published in ‘Kerala Kaumudi.’ Yet, I think my writing has now gained the sheen of richer experiences and is reflective of the 24 years that have gone by,” says Omana, whose novel ‘Aarumallatha Oral’, is being released in the city on Thursday.
The writer’s hat is one among the many that Omana dons. She is currently the councillor of Wall End ward in East Ham, London - a region with a sizable population of immigrant Malayali community. Now in her 11th year as councillor, she has been one of the longest serving persons of Asian origin to hold the post and was the first Asian woman to become the deputy speaker of Newham Council.
“I went to East Ham as a new bride and my lone connection with London were the novels of Charles Dickens,” says Omana.
“Coping with the strange place and raising my two children left me with little time to think about writing. The college magazines in which my stories had been published soon gathered dust. I still remember listening to old Malayalam songs sitting in my home in that faraway place, wondering if I could ever write again. ‘Ayiram Sivarathrikal’ was written after my kids started going to school. On the next visit to my hometown in Changanassery, family friends helped to get it published. In two days’ time, I received four offers to make it a movie.”
Omana went on to publish novels in English and Malayalam and one of her English books based on the immigrant Malayali population in East Ham had stirred up controversy owing to its alleged reference to real-life characters. Omana, however, says that she has always sought to depict intercultural relations in her novels.
“My new novel is also based on friendships across borders. The story spans three decades and revolves around the lives of a few research scholars who happen to be at the King’s College London at the same time. Among them are Seethalakshmy and Satheesh Mathew from Kerala. Through these characters, I also try to relate Shakespearean tragedies, John Osborne’s plays and the like to Geeta Govindam, Kalidasa’s plays and Kumaran Asans poems,” she says.
The book will be released by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at Press Club at 3.30 pm on Thursday.