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Monday, July 04, 2011

In The Shadow of Legends

Set in the rural coastal town of Kattuvalli in Kerala primarily, the story revolves around Swati and her sisters Manda and Mini.
In the voice of Swati we learn the stories of the various protagonists including Bharati teacher, Janardan the low caste regular at the Shastri home, Anandan, Bharti teacher’s nephew who helps people go to Russia for higher education, Misha, Swati’s Russian friend – son of scientist parents who wants to take up figure skating.
The story is in a short story collection format but leads us from the start to finish in a seamless fashion.

Manda, Mini, Shankar and Swati the 4 children of the Shastri family are enjoying a peaceful life in Kattuvalli with their parents until the arrival of Vishnu Mama. Vishnu Mama, a shrewd businessman is here to take over the managing of the estate which the Gandhian follower Shastri is unable to do with rigour.
With time, Vishnu Mama is ready to marry Mini the oldest daughter with scholarly bents.
Mini refuses to marry Vishnu and in protest cuts her hair off and brands her face so that the marriage gets cancelled.
Mini leaves Kattuvalli and Vishnu marries Manda who is in love with Vishnu.

Meanwhile, Janardan is instigated to help in murdering Vishnu by activists and in the process Shankar also dies and Pavani, Manda’s daughter, the sole witness to this massacre is scarred for life.
Manda takes over the running the family and taking care of Pavani- who remains a child hereafter.

Bharati teacher remains a constant support and she and Anandan are instrumental in organizing her escape to Russia where she would be doing her higher education.

Swati meets Misha and they grow closer.

One fine day she receives he call to come back to the village.
She discovers that Pavani is bearing a child and Manda has decided to go ahead with the pregnancy hoping that the arrival of a child would cure her.

Circumstances cause Swati to take a few tough decisions regarding her life in Russia, her responsibilities towards her family- essentially the women left behind to perpetrate the name of the Shastri family.

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