The year is 1986 and it is a hot and humid April morning. I was lying around in hospital bed feeling bored beyond imagination. My parents were still trying to plan for my sister who would be born in a few day's time. I was past the sick phase and quickly moving into the hyperactive run-around stage that is often the bounce back of the sickness.Amidst all the turmoil, someone presented me with a book - a simple twenty page book of poetry. I could barely read malayalam at that point, I could read the letters but not fast enough to actually read out.
That book was Kunjunni Kavithakal. I read them more from boredom than actual interest - but I was hooked. At first glance the words were simple, but now that I look back they meant a lot more than a dictionary would reveal. But even to a literal minded child the poems were entertaining and even more importantly easy to remember. I still remember some of the lines I read twenty years ago.
More vividly, I remember meeting O N V Kurup on a train to cochin, a month or so later. We are distantly related by someone on my mother's side and my maternal grand parents, who were with me on the train, knew him. He was basically taken aback when I said - " I don't know about your poetry, but kunjunni mash's poetry is Poetry ". Of course, after ten more years of learning malayalam (and maybe ten more of ignoring it), I still haven't changed too much in opinion - which may not be a good thing, but that it.
Oru mayilpeeli undente ullil, Oru valapottundente kayyil, Virasas nimishangal sarasamakan-iva dharalamam-an-enikke
Maybe that's what I miss of childhood, to enjoy the simple pleasures of life - paper boats in the rain water, raw mangoes with salt and hide 'n seek at the tharavad. Hearing of his death brings back memories of other things lost and certain smile at a paradox of pokkamillayma aaNente pokkam.
Kunjunni Master - (1927-2006)--
In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.
-- Benjamin Franklin