Kerala Kaumudi Online
Monday, 26 February 2024 4.46 PM IST

P Valsala's magnum opus 'Nellu' that changed Wayanad's future


There will always be a charming threefold effect on what creative people leave for posterity. Their works will remain soul-touching, a blessing and moreover a popular piece of art. Among the clique of creative meisters, it is people in literature who are mostly renowned and worshipped.

Think about any famous painter and the first thing that rushes to your mind will be your favourite of that particular artist. The same goes with singers, as we often include his/her songs in our playlists. But, when it comes to writer P. Valsala, nothing could cloud our mind as the sole spotlight will be on the novel based on Adivasi tribes titled ‘Nellu’. Veteran filmmaker Ramu Kariat made it a movie in 1974, that became more popular and ran for an epic 100 days.

P Valsala penned stories that shed light on the lives of natives in Wayanad and also narrated the prairie beauty of the land in effective prose. The sentiments and pains of the marginalized community were highlighted, and this moreover hit the right chords with the public.

The outside world was less aware of the miseries imposed on the tribals by the upper feudal class in Wayanad. Most writers who talked about Wayanad described the greenery, the scent of country land and the inimitable charm the place provided. However, for Valsala, who deeply ingrained the works and Philosophy of both Gurudevan and Kumaranashan, Wayanad and Thirunelli heralded a change in her life.

She loved the tribal community of Wayanad who were ostracized by their feudal lords. To know more about the place and to imbibe the culture, Valsala shifted base to Thirunelli, built a house and stayed along with tribals to write with more authority. Valsala was pained by the brutal sexual exploitation and punishment faced by slave women. Her novel trilogy was born as a small cinder of protest against the cruel norms followed in Wayanad. With the popularity of Valsala's novel, the government had to leave their lax and announce many welfare schemes for tribal communities in this place.

Her notable fictional characters Savitri Varasyar, Nangema Antharjanam, Sunanda, Madhavi, Mara, Kurumatti and other female characters are so strong and varied. Valsala was never a feminist by heart but espoused strong humanitarian values. She also had a strong affinity for environmental values and loved to write about greenery and the sea. The state and the people were blessed to have received such an oeuvre of works that covered novels, short stories and travelogues.

P Valsala was a recipient of Ezhuthachan Puraskaram, the top prize instituted by the Kerala government in the field of literature and also received the Sahitya Akademi Prize for her literary prowess. For more than two years, she lived with Alzheimer's. Kerala Kaumudi last published her handwritten short story 'The Death of the President' in the 2021 Onam edition. P Valsala always shared a special closeness with Kaumudi. Condolences to Kerala’s literary icon.

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