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Book of life

P.K. AJITH KUMAR

The characters in C.V. Balakrishnan’s ‘Ayussinte Pusthakam’ continue to fascinate readers 25 years later.


‘Ayussinte Pusthakam’ is about loneliness.


Photo: S. Ramesh Kurup

From the heart: C.V. Balakrishnan says ‘Ayussinte Pusthakam’ was written when he was going through an emotionally difficult period.

Twenty five years have passed since Malayalis first read C.V. Balakrishnan’s ‘Ayussinte Pusthakam.’ And yet, characters from the book such as Rahel, Annie and Yohanan and the story itself continue to fascinate readers.

DC Books brought out a special edition to mark the silver jubilee year of the release of the book. ‘Uyir Puththagam’ is the translation of the book in Tamil and it has also been adapted into a play by Suveeran. The play recently bagged five awards at the Sangeetha Nataka Akademi amateur drama festival.

Tamil translation

Says Balakrishnan, who was 31 when he completed writing the novel: “I am glad that my book is getting a second look now. I am told the Tamil translation is doing well.”

He adds: “It took me three years to pen that book. All the characters and villages of Christian settlers were in my mind long before I began thinking about writing ‘Ayussinte Pusthakam.’ The characters are based on people I met during my course as a school teacher in a village in Kasaragod.”

However, it was during his stay in Kolkata that ‘Ayussinte Pusthakam’ was born. An old edition of the Bible at St. Paul’s Cathedral triggered the book in him.

Says the author: “I wrote ‘Ayussinte Pusthakam’ at a time when I was going through an emotionally difficult period; my relation with my father was strained and I was feeling very lonely. ‘Ayussinte Pusthakam’ is about loneliness.” The book is also about sin and sadness, written in a style and language that have been judiciously borrowed from The Bible. ‘Disha’ and ‘Avanavante Anandam Kandethanulla Vazhikal,’ his latest novel, are two other works of his that are close to his heart.

Although he has written scripts for a few films such as ‘Mattoral,’ ‘Puravrutham’ and ‘Kochu Kochu Santhoshangal’ (he co-wrote them with directors K.G. George, Lenin Rajendran and Sathyan Anthikad respectively), it is something he is not too keen about.

“Very often you have to make compromises when you write for films. You don’t have the freedom to write on different themes; what the directors and the producers want are scripts that are similar to a previous box office hit. Things weren’t this bad in the 1980’s when films such as ‘Marmaram’ were made in the mainstream cinema and ‘Oridathu’ ran for 50 days. I am much happier when I write novels and stories.”

Balakrishnan says he began his tryst with writing while he was growing up in his village of Annur in Payyannur.

“O.V. Vijayan had a great influence over me, so much so that I had to work hard not to imitate his style of writing.” The author says he will be working on another novel soon but admits that it will never live up to his ‘Ayussinte Pusthakam.’

“A book like that just happens,” says the author.

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