As a poet she made breakthrough in Indian English writing in 50s and 60s.


 “My Story”( partly story, partly autobiography) evoked much furor in
Kerala when it came out. If we are to juxtapose it with the
overwhelming ‘reception’ given to her posthumously in Kerala, we could
understand all the contradictions defining  the Malayali society.
“MyStory” is a work which defies all definitions.

Harris narrated his  personal experience of translating her stories
and difficulties in finding a publisher. How Penguin Books delayed and
eventually rejected the manuscript( she thought it was because
Khuswant singh was in the advisory panel), how it subsequently got
published through Orinet Longman, and her immediate response to
reading the translation. She invited him for a feast at her home!
There she introduced Harris to some other guests as a Malabar muslim
who is blessed with the  traditional wisdom of reading faces and
predicting future!  He was chased down by those guests for telling
their fortunes!

She has played with her life in similar fashion all through. She was
an author who took such games seriously in her writing—Harris
concluded his commemorative speech.

Then he narrated how he   accidentally came to know about  C.Ayyappan.
It was during “Kurichi struggle’, a dalit social movement in Kottayam.
A Dalit feminist group performed a play, which inspite of its amateur
/ imperfect rendering caught the imagination of the audience.While
enquiring about it Yesudasan, a scholar told Harris that it draws on a
short story by C.Ayyappan.

Finding a copy of C.Ayyappan’s short story collection published by N B
S was also very difficult.. Nobody at the bookshop was aware of such
an author. In the end he managed to get hold of one copy from the

Fascinated by Ayyappan’s stories, Harris decided to make a film out of
one of his stories. Though the script was completed, it is yet to
materialize due to financial reasons.


C’R Omanakkuttan began his speech by noting that though Kamala
Suraiyya lived in Ernakulam, he met her only once. But C.Ayyappan
never met her. It is not intentional or accidental. Even prominent
literary critics like M. Leelavathi and M.Achuthan who were colleagues
of Ayyappan never recognized or acknowledged him as a writer.

Omanakkuttan shared the joy and wonder in finding powerful short
stories like “kaval bhootham’ and “arundhathee darsana nyayam’three
decades ago.Ayyappan’s place is Malayalam is unmatched and unique.

Omanakkuttan also shared his experience  as a colleague of Ayyappan in
Ernakulam Maharajas College.He also pointed out the opposition he
faced from some fellow members of MGUniversity board of studies when
he argued that C.ayyappan’s story should be included in the syllabus.
All the Malayalam professors in the committee were ignorant of the
existence of such an author.

Though Ayyappan wrote about  twenty odd short stories over three
decades, those stories are powerful enough to question the Malayalai
literary establishment, he opined.

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