'Kaatha', joins her 'Thakazhichettan'!
by Elizabeth Menon

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‘Kaatha’ joins her ‘Thakazhichettan’!

Kaatha (Kamalakshiamma), wife of Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, passed away at around 1130 hours on 1 June 2011 at the age of 92. There is no Kaatha without Thakazhi, but she has been living alone in the ancestral home since he died on 10 April 1999, but to her he was always there with her! She was Thakazhi's 'Kaatha', who stood behind him in all his ventures -- Thakazhi always said that she was his lucky mascot – and Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai is the Patriarch of Malayalam Literature!

Kaatha was living in the family home, Sankaramangalam, which became the State declared Memorial for Thakazhi following his death -- and Thakazhi’s Kaatha became a ‘One Rupee Tenant! When one thinks of this lovely grandmother with the most enchanting smile, there is also another rugged face beside it with an earthy smile looking at his beloved ‘Kaatha’! Kaatha had this towering personality that whoever met her was overwhelmed by her royal presence. Dr Raj Nair’s documentary, ‘KaazhchaVasthukkal (The Exhibits), is a loving tribute to his loving grandmother, and all the grandmothers anywhere in the world!

She may not have read all his books, but she was there giving him strength and moral support, while he was changing the image of Malayalam literature! Kuttanadu was in his blood, which reflected in all his books. Most people accept ‘Chemmeen’ as his Masterpiece, but the golden threads of ‘Kayar’ weave a pride of place in my heart – I say this without forgetting the jewels such as ‘Rantitangazhi, Enippatikal, Anubhavangal Paalichakal, Thottiyute Makan, etc!

Thakazhi took Malayalam literature to every corner of the earth and the name Thakazhi is synonym to Malayalam literature – but without his Kaatha beside him, perhaps he couldn’t have done the epic journey and therefore, Malayalees will always be indebted to Kaatha, Mrs. Kamalakshiamma Sivasankara Pillai!

If Thakazhi is the Patriarch of Malayalam literature, his beloved ‘Kaatha’ also has a pride of place in the hearts of all the Malayalees. Kuttanadu and the changing society of Kerala were the theme in most of his books, from ‘Thottiyute Makan' to ‘Kayar’ and in his opinion, the ‘Land’ and ‘Society’ were the heroine and hero who parted ways; but for Malayalees, ‘Thakazhi and Kaatha’ will be the hero and the heroine who stay together for eternity and beyond!

My thoughts are with the family and may God give them strength to cope with the sad loss, but we can be happy in the thought that the loving souls are together now – Kaatha has joined her ‘Thakazhi chettan’!

'Shankaramangalam' is no more a family home, but a museum for Thakazhi. But I always felt that the family should have never allowed the take over of the house by the government while 'Kaatha' was alive and not the complete house, even after her death! Now that Kaatha too has gone, the family members should be allowed to keep at least that part of the house where Kaatha, the grandmother, lived her last days -- without that the children and grandchildren won't have anywhere to go and pay personal homage, and they would have complete loss of their ancestral home.

I hope the Kerala Government would be compassionate enough to show the grieving family members a bit of kindness and allow them to retain that part of Shankaramangalam where Kaatha spent her lonely days after the demise of the Patriarch!

‘Rantitangazhi’ Nellu from Kuttanadu, laced with lots of love and prayers for your journey!

May her soul rest in peace.

© E Menon



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