September 27, 2023

The Grande Matriarch of Malabar : A Novel by Sajita Nair

 I recently read a book called "The Grande Matriarch of Malabar". This is a novel written by the author Sajita Nair on the Tharavad system which was once prevalent in the state of Kerala. We know very well that matriarchy once flourished in that region. And let's see what this writer from the state of Kerala has written.

This Tharvad culture prevailed among the Nair caste, who were of a feudal community .  Tharavad consists  joint family with a big house, gardens around it, an estate of many acres...the family is headed by a woman. All that house and assets are in her name. They may then be passed on to her daughter or daughter of daughter. Even the husband not needed to give his surname. He does not have any authority over the property. 

I read this novel to know how the relationships are in tharavad type of families . The author Sajita Nair also came from the same category, so I became interested. The total pages around 238 pages. The way of writing is interesting. This is the story of Tharavad of Kalydath family. The head of that Tharavad family was Dakshayani Amma. A Big traditional house, acres of lands and other assets were there. The whole story mostly takes place before the 70s and then slowly comes to the present.

  Rohini is the grand daughter of Dakshayani Amma. She came from America  to sell her ancestral house in Tharvad and encash the property. Most of her family members are already dead. No matter how many times she tries to sell, the buyers back down. People around say that the house has been haunted with the spirit of Dakshayani Amma, which does not allow outsiders to buy the house.

But Rohini does not believe them. Yet she has some experiences when she slept there. Prema , another old woman around, narrates about Amma's life. As part of that explanation, the whole story unfolds. How she lived in those days, how she supported the family with the help of her brother, how she took care of the children, the difficulties of marrying a deaf and dumb daughter, how her son Achutan sacrificed his life all these unfolded in a beautiful way.

The book is available with Amazon.

--- Murthy kvvs


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