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Beneath the Clouds and Coconu Leaves, new novel on Indian culture, life in Kerala.

by moncypothen 

Posted: 18 April 2006
Word Count: 999
Summary: Extremism, now widely termed, terrorism, is on the lips of every human being. But we still long for love and love still thrives. This poetic novel plunges us directly into the forests and paddy fields of India, describes the heartfelt awakening of love in two lives. Can you forgive a terrorist, who has participated in the murder of your own father? Like the heroine, Ahalya, we live in complicated times, and in Beneath the Clouds andÖ, we hold our breath to witness which will win, love or hate?

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Book Review by prominent personalities.

Dr. Sukumar Azhikode
Sanskrit/Vedic scholar. Calicut University professor and pro- vice chancellor, till 1986. His book,'Tatwamasi," has been awarded many prestigious awards in India

"A simple story of people who retrace their steps to pick up life's broken threads to restitch them into a healthy picture of reunion. Using a unique style and structure, Moncy Pothen's vintage tale set in Kerala, the land of monsoon clouds and coconut palms, projects the human virtue that no one is alone."

Chief Editor, Gulf Today Daily, Sharjah, UAE and the recipient of the Journalist of the year award in 1997 by International Journalists Congress.

"I was very touched by Moncy Pothen's excellent presentation of life in Kerala, the southern Indian state, and every incident he narrates happens
there every day. Beneath the Clouds and Coconut Leaves offers not simply glimpses into life in Kerala but deep insights into how the people there think. It skillfully uses Malayalam words, for which no equivalents exist
in any other language, leaving no room for ambiguity."

"Beneath the Clouds and Coconut Leaves is a very refreshing work, and it is not an exaggeration to say that every Malayalee would wish to have authored it."

"A job excellently done. I rank Beneath the Clouds and Coconut Leaves a notch above every other book written in English about life in Kerala, including The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy, which won the Booker prize in 1997.

Prof. Bridget Joseph M.A.M.Phil
Retired Professor, Assumption College, Changanacherry, Kerala. Former Co-coordinator of undergraduate courses, School of distant education, M.G. University. Former Resource person for Post Graduate Courses in English,
M.G University. Former faculty at the International Embassy School, Dammam Saudi Arabia.

Moncy Pothenís novel, ĎBeneath the Clouds and Coconut Leavesí gives a panoramic view of the socio-economic life in Kerala in a realistic manner, threading along the warp and weft of the Kerala community.

Arjunan the hero and Ahalya the heroine are mythological names. Arjunan is the ideal fighter in the eternal battle between right and wrong; Ahalya stands for the curse-befallen society that needs a stone-like persistence for its final liberation.

The novel is full of meticulous descriptions of the coconut land filling the air with the flutter of the Coconut fronds and the fragrance of the paddy fields. The vernacular expressions in the novel add to the Kerala flavor of the story.

Safi Abdi
-Safi Abdi, a writer from Somalia , has been living in Dubai for the past five years. She has so far Authored two books; A Mighty Collision of Two Worlds and Offspring of Paradise.

"Beneath the Clouds and Coconut Leaves" is Author Moncy Pothenís first novel. In this promising work, Pothen portrays with perfect ease the day-to-day affairs of a kaleidoscope of interesting personas; a mixed bag of good and bad apples, who are at once as predictable, depressingly backward, as they are exotic.

Arjunan, the central character, is an ex-convict whoís been jailed for his radical political views. Arjunanís only fault, however, is that he so fervently wishes to propel his community into an era of social maturity and equality; and to this end vows to rid his people of all kinds of social ills such as the evils of the oppressive age-old caste system, modern day corruption, lying politicians and greedy landlords. But the way Arjunan chooses to fight his war, he later realizes as he falls into the clutches of a violent rebel network, is anything but sensible. So when Arjunan is finally released from prison he returns to a village thatís anything but grateful for his sacrifices. Instead of being welcomed as a hero who fought for his peopleís rights he is greeted with hostility, treated like a fool and bombarded with accusations, slander, physical abuse, and worst, falls victim to an overzealous villager who stabs him in the dark of night. However, all is not lost, and having tasted the bitter pill of his earlier unbridled enthusiasm, Arjunan soon learns to redirect his energies in a way thatís more in sync with the environment in which he lives. With the help of his adopted brother and confidante, he once again immerses himself in the lives of his neighbors and fellow villagers. However, instead of arms, heated slogans and terrifying methods as means of persuasion, he now learns to take a more tactful approach. And it is in this sane calm milieu that he soon grows and finds the real gems of his village; notably a group of a younger generation of women, who are educated and forward looking; and itís through the energies of this association that Arjunan is soon able to reach his goals of social justice and equality.

Reading "Beneath the Clouds and Coconut Leaves", one can not help but reflect on the kind of situation that more often than not plunges well-meaning social activists, such as Author Pothenís hero, into the often troubled waters of mindless radicalism. Today, we hear so much about terrorists, be they Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jew, etc. Author Pothenís novel explains in a logical manner as to how and why such good-intentioned individuals are driven to such extremes. Through the pages of this balanced novel we learn a very important lesson: There are no quick fixes to any social illness, however dire the condition; at the end of the day, itís perseverance, patience, prayer and true understanding of the situation at hand, and not half-baked reprisals, that will do the job. Author Pothen should be applauded on his ability to handle such revolutionary ideals as social enlightenment and welfare issues in such a backwater setting; a rather laid-back rural community where change is frowned upon and things can only move at a snailís pace. Linguistically, the book should delight all with its generous imagery and plethora of picturesque descriptions. The kaleidoscope of exotic characters, Hindus, Muslims and Christians, living side by side in peace and amity, also adds to the overall warmth of the novel.


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