Ushakumari, the author of the novel ‘Chithirapurathe Janaki’, which won this year’s prestigious O.V. Vijayan Literary Award, is apparently a new face in the world of letters. The novel narrates a story of Chithirapuram village and the people residing there. It is a tranquil and delicate novel. This is the second novel of Ushakumari. The writer is very thrilled with her nascent award and she tastes the sweetness of it by ruminating the sweet pressure, mental agony which she has had when travelled with Janaki of Chithirapuram.
Ushakumari is the native of Vellathooval in Idukki district. From her college days, she used to write poems. Her good companion was her imagination.
“At those times, my selection of subjects was limited to sunset, sea, forest, etc. When a few friends read my poem on sunset, they started to call me a poetess. My father was a good reciter of poems. That was my only connection to the world of poetry, in my childhood. Me and my brother, used to repeat what father recites.
“When the years passed by, I stepped into prose from poems and also from sunset to other themes that are closest to life. I realised that a seat in the reader’s mind demands a vast and wide travel to the different levels of human potential. As poetry felt limiting for me to express well, I chose prose to exhibit the feelings and to reach the heights”.
Her debut novel is ‘Tharayum Kanchanayum-Randu Poralikal’. ” Never I wish to write in a feminist way. But accidently both my novels carried feminine names in title”. The writer tells.
The novel ‘Chithirapurathe Janaki’, narrates the story of an unmarried young woman named Janaki, an Anganwadi teacher. Her official life, love affair, etc. come as the topic of the novel. Ushakumari wanted to speak about the pathetic condition of the Anganwadi workers through her novel. The characters of this novel are not alien to the novelist.
Janaki is not presented merely as an Anganwadi teacher, but she represented a huge class of workers. Birth, death, diet like all natural courses that matter for a locality are touched by the workers of Anganwadi. In Ushakumari’s words, “I don’t know how Janaki of Chithirapuram caught my mind. Chithirapuram is one of my favourite places. The working class, Anganwadi employees and the nature of the land groomed into the character of Janaki.
The writer, beautifully decorated the novel with simplicity in language and storytelling style. She has been running a textile shop in Vellathooval. “My writing is influenced by the life of the people I find on the road in front of the shop” she said. She has a complaint that writers from Idukki are usually neglected.
Usha’s husband Hariprasad is a farmer. It was her son Udayaravi who sent the novel for the competition. The honour, named after eminent novelist and cartoonist O.V. Vijayan, carries a cash prize of Rs.50,001, a statuette sculptured by noted sculptor Kanayi Kunhiraman, and a citation, said office-bearers of Hyderabad-based Naveena Samskarika Kala Kendram (NSKK), which instituted the award.
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