Friday, October 18, 2013


    In the past Payyanur had a very beautiful landscape. The great perumpuzha winding along the eastern side separating kunhimangalam from payyanur took a sharp turn at changoorichal and merged with the kavvayi lagoon in the west. The water sheds near the river were picturesque with multicolored water lilies. These riverbeds were the breeding ground of all marine life. Fish, prawn, mussel, crab etc. Innumerable cranes and other birds - native and migratory perched in trees. The emerald paddy fields started from here. The raised platforms called kuthiru, where small thatched houses were built were like islands in the emerald fields. There were very few huge constructions in payyanur which blocked distant view. From the eastern nada of payyanur temple one could see a car moving through kokkanissery and from the western nada one could see a train whistling past. The air was pure.

       People were very poor except a very few. The landlord and the upper class clerics had big houses. The land belonged to the temple and the landlord. All others lived in thatched houses. The construction of a house was very simple. Earthen bricks were used for construction. These bricks were made from muddy sand paste available in the compound by the members of the family. These bricks were dried in the sun for a couple of days. The platform and the main structure were built using these bricks. The ceiling consisted of a skeleton made with coconut beams covered with woven coconut leaves. Above these a thick covering of rock grass is paved. The inside of these houses were always cool. The upper grass covering needs replacement every year. Constructing a house was in fact a social event involving friends and children. No money is paid. It was pure service. In my childhood we had a real jolly time helping thatching houses(What fascinated us most was taking the grass up the bamboo ladder leaned against the house). My house was really big with a number of rooms and verandas- three storeyed.

    The main occupation was cultivation. The other occupations were in the fields of khadi and beedi. Hundreds of men and women were employed in these fields. The wages were meager-  just sufficient to procure food. I weaved khadi for some ten long years. (Being a student, I was granted special permission for the same)I met almost all my expenditure from it.

           The first wave of change in payyanur came with crape revolution- the demand for crape cloth in America rose to such a high degree that the demand could not be met from traditional inputs. In Payyanur  weaving was confined to weavers street. Weaving crape cloth gives you wages ten times more than weaving khadi. So people from all other occupations shifted to weaving and every household installed looms in their houses. I weaved crape for some time. It brought some foreign money into the economy which revolutionized the life style. Small concrete buildings started to emerge in Weavers street where once whole families shared a common house. The revolution was so great that people started to spend on luxuries for the first time in their life- some non veg hotels like jubilee restaurant opened up in payyanur town at that time.( I remember those evening when the entire village will be there -at Jubilee -eating porottta and meat salna for just one rupee)

 The second revolution was the gulf revolution. Many Payyanurians tried their luck in Gulf countries. Foreign money started to flow in and construction took new wings. Everyone started to construct huge houses spending their life savings on it as if it was the sole aim of life. Now the madness has reached to its maximum. Now payyanur is a large residential area like the metropolis. The landscape has completely changed. 

Friday, October 4, 2013


       Feudalism in malabar was brutal. The landlord's words were unquestionable  No one dared to raise any voice against them. The peasants were driven to fields without food. They were not allowed to wear dress above waist or wear chappals and ornaments. Everything including women were considered to be the wealth of the landlord. Girls attaining puberty were summoned to the landlords without exception.  Two part out of ten of all agricultural products and hunted animals have to reach the bungalow of the Nayanars in power without fail. Narayanan Nayanar and Krishnan Nayanar were the most dreaded. The punishment for defaulters was death. 
    It was the beginning of twentieth century. Karshaka Sangham, (the organisation under the communists which played a pivotal role to stop these atrocities), were yet to evolve. But two true revolutionaries questioned these practices with their lives- Kodilon Raman and Vannathan Raman- These two Ramans terrorised the Nayanars to such a degree that they hired scores of goondas and British police to combat them.
The two Ramans were close friends. Both belonged to Kutoor. Kodilon was a born revolutionary  He asked the same questions raised by karshaka sangham two decades later. He refused to work for the landlord. He asked his wife and sister to wear tops. He threatened to rape the landlords wife and daughter if he dared to summon his wife or daughter to his bungalow. wearing  chappals he walked in front of the Nayanars. In short Raman became rival number one of the landlord. His property was confiscated and he was barred form cultivation. But he plaughed and sawed his field without heeding the landlords orders. The Landlord himself came forth with a gang of goondas. A terrible fight followed. Raman confronted the goondas successfully in the beginning but his strength soon gave away before a score of merciless villains. Raman was tied up and brought to the boarder of the field. The goondas struck his head with tender coconuts and threw him in the mud beneath the plaugh. The bullocks alarmingly pulled him submerged in mud. He died a martyr's life.
Vannathan Raman, hearing the news dashed to the sight only to see the corpse of his friend. He ran through the hills, crossing rivers and valleys to taliparamba some 25 kms away to the Magistrate court at Taliparmaba and reported the death to the magistrate. The Magistrate was a good man. He visited the sight immediately and charged a case against the Nayanars. Vannathan Raman's efforts to bring the culprits to the law took an unexpected turn when the Nayanars shamelessly used kodilon's wife to give evidence against her husband. She told in the court that his husband fell in the mud and the bullocks unknowingly pulled him to death. Thus the first accused was left free.
Vannathan Raman continued his lone strike against the landlords. He used to visit a nearby toddy shop. The Nayanars forbid the owner from giving toddy to Raman. Infuriated, Raman took a large 'cherangathode' and stormed the bungalow of the landlord warning dire consequences if anyone touched him. Nayanar withdrew to the interior and his wife came forward and requested Raman to pacify. Raman demanded five litres of toddy and told the lady that the toddy shop owner had been forbidden to serve toddy to him by her husband. The lady went inside and came out with a five rupee note and asked some of the attenders to accompany Raman to the toddy shop to buy him toddy. The landlord was taken aback. He bribed a circle inspector to arrest Raman with the charge of stealing five rupees from his house. The circle inspector came to the village in a motor cycle with two constables. The constables caught Raman and produced him before the Circle. The circle slapped him. How can Raman suffer this atrocity?. He beat the circle Inspector and constables. They ran off and took refuge in the landlords bungalow.

The landlord hired some twenty goondas to kill Raman. One day when Raman was taking bath in the kuttoor river the goondas attacked him from all sides with thorn poles. He resisted the attack and killed one goonda. Finally he was beaten to unconscious and tied up and brought to the police station. He was sentenced for life. After thirteen years of imprisonment he came back. By that time karshaka Sangham was established. He participated in its activities. Once in kandonthar a meeting of the sangham was being held. The landlord sent some goondas to disperse the crowd. Raman dashed to the scene with his knife. The goondas ran off.

 Once Raman garlanded the great KPR Gopalan who was released from jail. KPR took the garland and put it on Raman saying that he  deserved the garland better than him.