The story begins with the author's
quest for faith in a beevi's tomb. He argues that it is
necessary to do so because "In our mindless urge to find a
starkly defined truth, we dug up the rolling meadows of our
myths and the little creeks of our imagination where the flowers
of our innocent fancies bloomed in season and today they lie
parched and fallow…We had failed to install new deities in
their place and we tried to seek solace in the barren caves of
Thus the story
is about regaining lost faith. This author tries to establish
belief by following the evolution of Karthy. Karthy is that
perfect, confident woman who is sufficient unto herself. Perhaps
this is because she has been born into a matrilineal and
matrilocal society and is the heiress of a bountiful tharavad
or community. That, however, does not explain her perfect beauty
and perfect composure, which seems to be inborn. So perfect is
she that even her own mother venerates her, leading to her
alienation and loneliness. Thus, when the handsome Mamooty comes
into her life, it seems natural that she elope with him.
However, though Karthy converts to Islam, she is unable to
resist the tug of her original religion and that's where the
traditions reassert themselves again and again in the book. The
narrative is full of references to beevis and jarum in
the Muslim tradition and to Bhagavathy, the Mother Goddess,
believed by Karthy's family to be a living presence in the upper
rooms of their home. The supernatural and the unbelievable rub
shoulders with the mundane. For instance, when Sanku Menon's
mother confronts him after her death to give him a piece of her
mind, he doesn't find anything strange about it and meekly
accepts her scathing comments on the impropriety of allowing
three low cast Thiyyas to enter in the presence of her body. The
reader has to take all this in his stride because he is reading
a story that a Sufi has narrated. Thus, we find oral myths,
lores and legends in the story. Therefore, too, there are no
moral judgements made on love or murder. Emotional upheavals are
dealt with with equanimity and faithlessness and disasters like
small pox, taken in the stride quite easily.
Love is looked
at as pure emotion without any rationality being attached to it.
The love of Karthy's uncle, Sankumama, for his niece is not
platonic, "The aura of his niece, her celestial beauty
reduced him to impotence", but that doesn't detract in any
way from the special emotional bonding they share. Karthy's
elopement with Mamootty is again an acceptable and logical step.
Mamootty's homosexual affair with Amir, his young relative, is
unquestioningly accepted and is a step in the evolution of
Karthy, the force of perfect love and beauty.
In the preface, N.
Gopalakrishnan says, "It is possible to give a resume of
the theme of this novel in just ten sentences", but to do
so would be to do an injustice to the book. Casting it aside as
a simple story would be to diminish the art and mysticism that
abound in it. Doubtless, the story is simple and sometimes
inexplicable, but the imagery and artistry make up for that.