THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Birthdays at the Thysseri family were always celebrated with little verses. Kurunnappan Thysseri’s three daughters and two sons would rejoice in the honour of the laudatory poems father wrote for them.
Latha Varghese had shared those nostalgic tales with her friends in London while waiting for her aged parents to arrive for a short stay.
“On the way to Lourdes in France, the Malayali friends of our daughter insisted that he penned poems for each one of them and they brought everything from scribbling pads to cigarette packets for him to write on,” remembers Marykutty.
And that was many years before her husband, who retired as Range Officer from Thenmala, began his prolific writing career at the ripe age of 82. In the last three years, the robust old man has published 11 titles in Malayalam, of which 10 are novels and one is a collection of verses.
The old, low-roof house at Kanjirampara in Thiruvananthapuram nestles under a sprawling canopy of trees and Thysseri’s dining table-turned-writing desk in the front room looks inviting with its pile of papers and books. Seven-year-old Maria promptly picks out the books mentioned by her grandfather for us to leaf through.
“As a youngster, I wrote poems on the scenic beauty of Kuttanad, my native place. And I also wrote a novel, ‘Nukam’, while in service, which was published by MBS Books,” says Thysseri.
The call of the wild left him with little time to pursue writing, though he tucked away the jungle book of stories in the recesses of his mind. He retired from service in 1984. But it was not until he handed over the saw mill business in Kollam to his son-in-law that Thysseri found the peace of mind to yield to the obstinacy of words.
The range of topics handled in Thysseri’s books is impressive. ‘Neela njarambukal’ revolves around the life of an orphaned youth through whom the narrator effectively addresses the issue of the agrarian crisis in Kuttanad.
‘Kurisambakam’ is an intriguing mythical work about the wood used to make the cross on which Christ was crucified. Despite its deep philosophical understatements, the book is as much an engaging discourse on ecology. “This is also my favourite work,” says Thysseri.
“I had to do a good amount of research into Biblical myths and the characters had to speak a convincingly ancient language.” The English translation of the book is due to be published soon.
The last set of books by this late-blooming author was published by Melinda Books in 2011.
The octogenarian is currently working on a novel with St Augustine as protagonist.