Creating a Myth. 
The story of Poothapattu, the most popular of Edasseri Poems

This poem is included in the anthology titled Karutha Chettichikal

the pootham

donning the attire
to go to school

The Poem 'Poothapattu' - The song on the Poltergeist.


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 Poltergeist) in 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 instance,  people 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 the rocks.
All this happened long long ago. Now  Pootham does'nt hurt anyone.  She is sad.  You know why....?


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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The text in red is edited by Sreedevi Manoj, Edasseri's grand daughter. (Daughter of E. Madhavan and Susheela.)





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