Edasseri is weaving a myth around Pootham, a folklore idol
who appears dancing to the rhythm of drum- beats and short pipes on every courtyard after the summer harvest.
The grotesque figure is fully adorned with classic
brass ornaments making a cluttering sound as it moves
about. Mothers eagerly await the appearance of Pootham (a
their courtyard as it is supposed to bring prosperity. The
children also wait in anticipation as they are fascinated by it, and yet scared.
But in the olden days people used to abhor the
Pootham for its cruel ways. Pootham used to cast its
magical powers on innocent and hapless people. For
in a hurry to reach their home in the dusk to join their
dear ones used to get confused by the magic spell cast on
them by Pootham and forget
their own way.
Everything around them
turn misty and
once they realize that they are under the magic spell,
they used to promptly offer some betel-leaf and betel-nut
and keep them by the wayside. Instantaneously the mist
dissolves and the entire path becomes clear.
When they are gone, Pootham
comes stealthily and chews the betel leaves with
nuts and spit out the red spit all over "Thechi" shrubs, colouring the Thechi
flowers (lxora Coccinea - Jungle Geranium or flame of the woods)
into deep red hue.
It also used its magical powers to turn itself into
a pretty woman to lure men. She in fact lured youngsters who were looking for
fun and took them on to the top of a palm tree -
which appeared as if it were a seven story
building. Once ensconced at the top, Pootham used to suck
the blood of these fun loving young men. What remained of
these unfortunate fellows- their
bones and hair- lay scattered on the other side of
All this happened long long ago. Now
Pootham does'nt hurt anyone.
She is sad. You
Long ago, there lived......It is the story of
Nangeli, who lives in the bungalow by the riverside.
After long years' of ritualistic prayers and
hopeful waiting she gives birth to a boy child, and she
names him Unni. She
adorns him with gold ornaments, and feeds him on cereals
and milk and gives him dolls to play with.
Showing the moon (lovingly called Ambilimamma-
uncle Moon) while feeding her little Unni is Nangeli.
The poet here creates a
sense of anxiety with his appropriate and effective use of
rhythmic metres. On the literary level Nangeli is
confronted with conflict of how to make her child
comfortable as he sleeps - Can't keep him on the ground 'cause there may be
ants there, and can't keep him on the head either because
there might be lice there.
She lays him on a golden bed and lying by his side
sings him a lullaby.
She pats him softly on his bonny thighs to put him to sleep and herself falls into a light slumber. But
on the metaphorical level the same lines have a
totally different implication. "Keeping on the
ground" conveys the sense of neglect while
"keeping him on the head" implies overprotection
to the extent of over pampering him. Nangeli faced with
this conflict finds a wise solution of laying him by her
side and patting him to sleep - an excellent way of
offering him enough protection to make him feel secure at
the same time not over-indulging his needs.
Falling into a 'light slumber only' shows her motherly alertness.
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text in red is edited by Sreedevi Manoj, Edasseri's grand
daughter. (Daughter of E. Madhavan and Susheela.)