Depiction of Supernatural Elements in MT Vasudevan Nair's Ennu Swantham Janakikkutty- Dr Jose Augustine
Depiction of Supernatural Elements in MT Vasudevan Nair’s Ennu Swantham Janakikkutty
Dr Jose Augustine
(Head, Department of English, Newman College Thodupuzha)
Madatthil Thekkeppattu Vasudevan Nair popularly known as MT is the celebrated Keralite, Indian writer and film maker. It is well known that, MT is a creative genius with a prolific and versatile talent reflected in his fiction, screenplays and film making. In short, he has scripted, as many as sixty four films, and directed six of them. They were adapted to the tinsel world from his own fictions, and from other external sources such as history, fantasy, epic, myth, ballad and so on. “The astonishingly large volume of literature that has flowed from MT’s pen over the past half- a century is immortal. He has written some of the finest novels and short stories in Malayalam, not to mention his several outstanding screenplays”.
‘Cheriya Cheriya Bhookambangal’ is the story of an adolescent girl, named Janu alias Janakikkutty aged fourteen, born and brought up in a joint family in one Valluvanadan hamlet. She lived with her mother Kunjukkutty, Kuttan and Devu aged twenty and sixteen. Janakikkutty’s father is employed in an estate in Valpara where he lives with another lady whom he took in the pretext of a maid - servant.Her maternal aunt Meenakshi and her daughter Sarojini aged eighteen also lived in the same family. Sarojini’s father is employed in a company in Bombay and lived there. Janakikutty feels love towards a twenty aged youth Bhaskaran, son of Ravunni Nair, the house attendant. But Bhaskaran in turn loves Sarojini.
Her grandmother’s sister reaches there and starts living with them. From her, she hears so many fairy tales and ghost stories and she feels the presence of evil spirits walking though their compound in the evenings and at midnights. One day accidently she witnesses the love between Sarojini and Bhaskaran in the orchard. Unable to bear it upset and taken aback, she runs fast back home: stumbles and falls unconscious on the ground. In the trance that followed, Janakikkutty sees the fairy characters Kunajtthol and Karineeli and makes friendship with them. Later she has been carried back to home from the orchard by Ravunni Nair, the attendant. On regaining consciousness, she is much annoyed to hear from the members of her family that she is haunted.
A sorcerer comes from Kalladikode and performs some pooja on her. Kunjatthol also shares her bitter experiences furiously and explains the severe pain she underwent when nailed to a small piece of ‘Kanjiram’ tree by a sorcerer who hit her upon it. One day, her maternal uncle, Sarojini’s father reaches home from Bombay. He fixes the marriage of Sarojini with Sankaranarayanan, a boy working in his company. At this, Bhaskaran gets dejected and disappointed.Besides, her grandmother also falls ill. In the mean time, her father also arrives to attend the marriage. On seeing the sad plight of Janakikkutty, he takes her to the nearby hospital. There Bhaskaran comes for her aid and comfort. this helps her to regain normalcy and happiness.
On the morning of the marriage day, her grandmother passes away. But her maternal uncle and Ravunni Nair never revealed this news to anybody. Ignoring the warnings of the Ravunni Nair and uncle, she enters the room of grandmother. On seeing Janakikkutty accompanied by Kunjatthol and Karineeli grandmother jumps from the cot and runs to the place of marriage. Her aunt Meenakshi expresses displeasure at her presence in the marriage ceremony. Janakikkutty replies that she is not alone but, accompanied her grandmother to the venue of marriage. Everybody astonishes at her reply and firmly believes that she went abnormal.
She watches the dead body of her grandmother in the funeral pyre beneath a cashew tree. She thought that her grandmother is not dead but is near the window of her room along with Kunjatthol, Karineeli and other friends. Kunjatthol whispers in her ears and assures that she will not leave her alone. At this Janakikkutty feels relieved. She thinks that they can engage themselves in varied plays and games again and spend the life with much enthusiasm.
There is a mix of reality and fantasy in this story written by MT. Frustration, loneliness, isolation, jealousy and the lack of attention and concern at home - all make Janakikkutty into a dual personality. She is thus forced to live in the imaginary world where she enjoys, solace, peace, joy and is unable to leave those heavenly comforts.
Till date, mysteries shrouding the human minds are not fully unravelled. It is a reality that along with goodness exists evil or satan as an inseparable force. Don Fortune says:We live in the midst of so many invisible forces, which affect human livings. There are beings that live in this invisible world as fishes live in the sea (Fortune 102).
All living things, each attached to their own cloud or spirit, share this non- physical energy with one another. Spirits devoid of bodies can sometimes be seen or sensed as energy by an imaginative but disturbed mind. They appear as lights or spirit's aura. A spirit can take a physical form when it is intimately bonded to a person or place. Subsequently, Janakikkutty visualizes and cherishes the physical forms of the spirits of Kunjatthol, Karineeli or later of her grandmother who had already passed away. Here they are spirits and not ghosts. Utany Burn is of the view that “A ghost, unlike a spirit, cannot communicate or take a semblance of physical form. Ghosts are mindless parts of energy that can be reabsorbed by spirit to create the physical form. Spirits are friends who are known as guides, guardian angels who can help in a physical level and are capable of communicating. These guides can appear in one's dream and help in one's waking state” (Burn 89).
According to Pranic Healing, when the 'protective web' or ‘etheric web’ which acts as a filter to protect a person from negative influences is ruptured, the psychological ailment ensues. In severe cases the web is punctured and has big holes. Cho Koksui says: “This is due to psychic disturbances or intrusions by negative physical entities or elementals. These negative elementals are called ‘etheric cockroaches’ or ‘parasites’. They can be destroyed by an act of will of a healer” (Koskui 64).
There are various techniques for healing the mentally ill. In the case of Janakikkutty it is proved true. If we think along Freudian lines, it can be understood that Janakikkutty repressed many of her emotions and feelings, and as a result, she chose the defense mechanism of fantasy. Krober says: “Mental illness is usually a retreat from reality that the individual is either unable to cope with, experienced as being too difficult or not rewarding enough. The unconscious is partly collective and partly personal. The collective part consists of inherited primitive or social ways of thinking or a feeling” (34).
The culture that abounds in fairy tales about witches, sorcerers, magicians, evil spirits, ghosts etc has already made its impact on her personality. It gives a soothing effect to her solitary, peerless life. If we think on the lines of the Neo Freudian, it was the deprivation of love that led to her mental abnormality. Once it is regained, she becomes normal. Love is an art and a process of give and take.
When we read the story and ponder over it, we are pushed into a dilemma: - what is real? What is unreal? What is true? What is untrue? M.T underlines the fact that the universe and the human mind are riddles to be solved.
Fortune, Don. Psychic Self Defense. Bombay: India Books Distributors, Nariman Point. 1987. Print.
Koksui, Cho. Pranic Psychotherapy. Secunderabad: HAFA, GeneralEnclave,1989.Print
Burn, Utany. Develop Psychic Abilities. New York: Pocket Books, 1985.Print.
Kroeber, A.L. Anthropology. Calcutta: Oxford & IBH Pub. Co., 1972. Print.