Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Joseph wept

Jayakanthan (1934-2015) is one of my favorite Tamil novelists. I like his simple straightforward narrative styles and simple themes without twists and turns which make readers tense. But the smooth flowing style makes you read this small  book to its last page in a stretch. Jayakanthan magic, lemme say.

'Joseph wept' is the translation of his Tamil novella 'Yarukkaka Azhuthan ' which got published in the prestigious Tamil weekly 'Anantha Vikatan' during 1960. While finishing the novel I was all for Joseph, who taught me the greatness of forgiving. Many a times have I felt that the act of forgiving is a form of weakness when you are too timid to react. But in this novel, the ignorant, illiterate Joseph, who respectfully slauted everybody a 'my Lord, ' who was considered a fool by his colleagues, who was addressed as 'rogue-eyed', and who could not weep at all, rises to the so called Godliness, through his simple acts. His explanations on why he silently bore the insults, amazed me like anything.

Eventhough I had read the Malayalam translations of his novels, I had never bothered to find out anything about the novelist so far. My admiration knew no bounds when I happened to read more about Jayakanthan. Quoting Hindustan times,

"The ten-year-old boy who ran away from home to Madras and lived in a workers' `commune' affiliated to the Communist Party of India; the teenager who spent his days and nights among Chennai's underclass; the young man who was inspired by Bharathi's vision of modernity as well as the great tradition of Tamil poetry going back to the sangam period; and the self-made writer who, after small beginnings in party journals, burst into the mainstream with a string of coruscating stories in Ananda Vikatan over a period of several years.The rest, they say ,is history ."

Joseph weeps is also a famous biblical story, the author must have chosen the title because of that, I presume-anybody can presume anything while reading, right?  

The book is translated into English by A.A.Hakim, and was published by The Christian Literature Society, Chennai. I do not know whether it's available in print now. Mine is a very old copy, originally possessed by my parents

Here is the link on my write up-and not review, mind you- in Malayalam on two of his novels, for those who are interested.