Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 23 February 2024 7.28 PM IST

As the setting sun reddens the top leaves


Kerala, a state which geologically inclines towards the east, has three distinct geographical sectors, namely, the high ranges, the midland and the coastal plains. Sociologists are of opinion that the characteristics of the land can also be seen in the character of the people who dwell in these places. The migrant workers from the midland who became planters in the wooded high-ranges were the incarnation of hard work. The woods, hills and wild beasts lost the game to them. We know that most of the cash crops in Kerala were planted by them and watered by their sweat. On the coastal side, fishmongers who go by the dictum ‘no pain, no gain’ kept the wolf from the door and imported affluence from abroad through exports. Another awe-inspiring feature of the Keralites is how, equipped with education, efficiency, and expediency, they have been able to migrate to and thrive in every piece of land known to man. Even though born in the remote hamlets of the midland in Kerala, it is luminously showcased in the hall of fame how the emigrants who chose foreign lands as their place of work have boosted the economy of their motherland and set a high water mark in their fields of work abroad. The Keralites working abroad, unlike the immigrants from other countries, were not unemployed, dispossessed and unsupported refugees from their own countries. Most of them were well heeled and came from well to do families. They chose new pastures because of their sense of adventure which prompted them to go in search of better working conditions and advanced ways of life. However, it is a modern day wonder that those who left their motherland have not severed their geographical umbilical cords yet, as is evident in their passion for their motherland and their enthusiasm to serve it in different ways, expecting practically nothing in return, as Changampuzha the famous poet said:

'More than a memory of me

Nothing do I seek from thee.'

The author of this book Kunnakkodu Madhavan Bhaskaran Nair, aka NBN, is a true representative of the NRIs who share this sentiment. He has harnessed the light and warmth in the afternoon of his life to capture and present these daylight impressions in a book form. Born at Neyyattinkara, a southernmost town in Kerala, he might be cherishing in his unconscious the colourful historical background of Travancore. In his youth itself he was well aware of the footprints on the sands of time left by Marthanda Varma, the erstwhile King of Venad; Veluthampi Dalwa, a pioneer in India’s freedom struggle; G Ramachandran, the founder of Gandhi Gramam modelled after Gandhiji’s ideals and Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai, the champion of free press. As he got into the arena of life, the memories of such great people would have perpetually reverberated in his mind. The present book is a bird’s eye view of the observations he had made and the impressions he had formed between the time he joined the Indian Air Force to his time of retirement as the President of FOKANA in 2020 after having become an entrepreneur in the US by founding a well-known finance company.

The first chapter is his concern over how his motherland is apathetic to its emigrants who are very supportive of its economy. It is no wonder that MBN being a champion of the emigrant workers’ rights was much disturbed by the dismissive attitude shown by some towards those who returned home from other countries. The vibrant spirit of his native land, Neyyantinkara would have found expression in his words. Around us we see the elusive virus, COVID 19, stunning even the developed countries and turning the world economy upside down like a question without an answer. The writer has also analysed how population explosion, which has been contained effectively by Kerala, is out of bounds in other states and how it impedes and decelerates our national development.

MBN reveals his acumen as an economist when he puts forward his arguments in support of expanding G7 to G11 to include India and three other countries. Environment Conservation, persisting epidemics, public-private partnership of the airports in Kerala, the revival of the Indian economy is only a few of the subjects which evince his love for his motherland in particular as well as for the entire humanity in general. His article admiring the Supreme Court verdict which, while upholding the secular nature of India, a great democratic country, brought dismay and disappointment for those who were eagerly waiting to see a different verdict leading to the disintegration of India around the Babri Masjid Issue, is an illustrious example of his wisdom and insight. His article titled 2021: A New Decade Begins brings out the meaning of the age old maxim, ‘every cloud has a silver lining’. In a way it is the gist of his undying optimistic thoughts. The UN has declared the year 2021 as the year of Peace and Trust .2021: A New Decade Begins is based on the closeness among family members who returned home from alien lands due to the epidemic and the glorious moments of family reunion after a period of agonizing anxiety. That the Indo-American relations, the foreign policy of all the statesmen who left India their native land and chose America as their place of work and residence, and the relations will continue during the regime of Joe Biden, as strongly as ever, is not based only on the goodwill of the US but also on India’s accelerated race to be in the league of powerful nations. This former Air Force official gives a fair warning that Indo-China relations can only be one of caution and that the obsolete ideals and a blind love for the neighbours will be misplaced and hazardous.

When death due to COVID 19 became rampant, the Trichur Diocese has the foresight to build a gas crematorium and opt for cremation following the Indian custom, in place of burial when they ran short of land to bury the dead in tombs and erect tombstones as is the custom of the Semitic religions. This is a radical but sublimely exemplary and progressive step in the direction of the concept, ‘think globally, but act locally’. As a Keralite not living in Kerala, MBN did not let go the opportunity to extol this decision. The grateful and autobiographical depiction of the FOKANA days and the solidified experience given as answers to eleven questions put to him by Ramesh Babu, the editor of this book, proclaim the pastoral grace of a man from Neyyatinkara, a man who is the spokesperson of humanity and an epitome of hard work.

Marthanda Varma, for whom Fate provided shelter in an old jack fruit tree (later known as Ammachchiplavu, as it protected him like a mother) became decisive in the fate of a kingdom. MBN shares that pagan spirit which teaches us that the basic elements are family for us. Many poets including Vyloppilli have expressed the importance of leaving one’s own roots unsevered, cherishing its inherent purity like the fragrance and colour of seasonal flowers which never fail to blossom on time.

As the setting sun leaves its golden ornaments under the age old trees and reddens their top leaves, this book is presented to you as it enriches the sunlit boulevards of fragrant purity, elegant oneness and blossoming hopefulness.

Dallas, Texas

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