In Despair


What do you do when you realize nobody cares whether you are alive or dead? You protest, at least that is what many people do. And that is what Velayudhan did in The Village of Shadows. He protested by making illicit liquor with every nasty thing he could think of. And people loved his liquor. But not him. He was young, too young to understand the difference. So he innovated and made better liquor to show his father who was boss.

But time made sure that he grew up. Time also made sure he recognized his utter loneliness. So in the frustration of his young life he chose to kill himself. Suicide had long pestered his mind. But he had never given serious thought to it. Ending his own life repelled the instincts buried in him.

But one night, in heavy rain, he chose otherwise. Today is the day for Velayudhan to go. In thunder and lightning with Nature in turmoil. The adolescent boy, barely eighteen, prepped himself with pesticide and alcohol and jumped into the overflowing river. He should have died. But the secrets of fate were not his to read. He survived. And washed up unconscious and almost dead by the side of the river. Not a person bothered to help him. He dragged himself up and disappeared from the village for some days.He turned up finally in the hut of Kamalakshy. Kamalakshy took care of him like a mother. She was also an abandoned soul who knew the villagers well; they appreciated her body alone. Kamalakshy hugged him to her bosom and for the first and last in the life of both of them they wept tears of utter loneliness and discovery.

This is a scene that moved me a lot. Because many of us have no reason to recognize Velayudhan or Kamalakshy in us. What the boy and the woman talked about remains unknown. Maybe they did not speak. Maybe their tears consoled them. Maybe they finally discovered a worthy companion for each other.

This remains one of the most poignant scenes of the book.

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