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A MEMORABLE TRIP (Page 5) By Krishna Varier
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Next we went the second level of Kovilakam. It held the living quarters, a great hall called the Valiathalam meant for children and single elders. Married couples used the smaller room- Ara which afforded a great degree of privacy. The third level held suits for the Karanavar.

Poomukham – the point at which guests were received, fronts the main structure consisting of a vegetable dyed carving this is the only part of the Palace that is truly ornate. Mr. Tharoor wanted to rest. Two sessions of each Ayurveda treatment and Yoga class added to the required attention to his urgent official matters ( through a lap top) together made him weak. Resort people are also wise enough to see that you are fully engaged. Hence at end of the day you will get what exactly you wanted – a silent sleep. Shifting to the new routine by then, I observed that Mr. Tharoor was enjoying each and every aspect of Palace stay. Mr. Tharoor wanted me to join him to his ancestral home. We decided to go in the evening. It’s a twenty minute drive from Kovilakam. His Uncle met us in the gate, who is the present Karanavar of that home. He wanted to talk to his nephew for long as uncle /nephew meet happens after 3 or 4 years gap.

Financial aspect of paddy procurement, function of co-operative society etc find way in their topic for conversation. So naturally I got interest in knowing Karanavar’s social status. Some important personalities from neighborhood came to see Mr. Tharoor. I got Karanavar at my disposal. I asked him about his engagements. He said he is proud to be a full time communist party worker. How come you are one? I could not avoid that question. He laughed at me saying no body so far bothered him with such an approach. 

“Our family had the status of Madambis” – singular direct nominee of the ruler (designated for that particular village – here it is Kassamkurissi). Vested with judicial powers, we were like Governors/ Resident representatives. Madambis had the powers to kill anybody including anti social/anti origarm ruler category. He is the authority of the village land and hence permission must be obtained from him before using it. Must pay tax for cultivation , for construction, conducting any function etc. In short he was the local Cop equipped with sufficient force under him.

When the ruler system was abolished, the scenario changed. Land to the tiller was the new slogan. Land reforms act was introduced in Independent Kerala State by the first Communist Govt. Progressive agrarian reforms; 22,000 acres of wet land 82,000 acres of forests were taken over from Land Lords/Madambis of Kollemgode alone. No compensation for people like our Karanavar or to their families. Devoid of their traditional source of income, the members were forced to confront life at street level. The choice before them was simple , learn to swim or sink in the sadness of memory. Federal life thus came to a crushing halt.

Bloody palm prints of 70’s; that of Naxalism created a terror far beyond the boundaries of imagination. Bolting down the lowered shutters of their open house and shrouding themselves with fear ,most of them disbursed to other places, other lands and other homes. By then all wise tillers who got land left communism. They used the ideology to attain their aim. Dreaming upper class status they joined congress party.

Meanwhile attracted by the ideology and the care & loyalty towards its workers, some of the Madambis/ex-land lords of 70’s like our Uncle dedicated their life to Communism. They still continue to be the strong base line of the party. When we came out of the house to leave, Karanavar invited both of us to be there again on the third day to attend a function happening there in connection with the temple festival.. Mr. Tharoor was also very particular in attending the function to be held at the Vishnu temple very near to the home.

That day, air filled with memories of Mr. Tharoor’s childhood narrated by many of the relatives present over there. I could see all the rooms in that European style home and could listen to some stories connected also narrated by one of his relatives.

Continued on the next page...

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