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Nature Sao Tome and Principe
~~~The Night of Crows~~~
Dec 27, 2011 10:12 PM 4519 Views
(Updated Jan 23, 2012 05:44 PM)



Crows are the wisest of the common birds. They are intelligent. Sharp thinking and quick action is their trade mark. They don't trust anybody that easily. Not many birds possess the courage to attack collectively if one among them is been attacked. In village life in Kerala, crows are an essential part. There will be a family of crows associated with each house. They will wait for the supply of food from the house even though they may go for some fruit outing. If there is a function in any place in the village, the crows will assemble and party there. The crows are said to have sixth sense. It is a believe that if a crow is crying in a particular tone you can expect a visitor that day and the success ratio here is nearly 90 percent. Many believe that crows carry the souls of dead family members. No wonder, many of the religious rituals, especially for the soul of the dead family members ends with offering rice to the crows.

It is in this background that Mohanachandran (who introduced the first mystical novel to Malayalam wrote this novel, Kalika) tells the story of Kakkakalude Rathri, which means - The Night of the Crows. Devi, 26 year old music teacher and a widow arrives to Sucheendram with her twin daughters. Her mission is to research on 'music of temple songs' and the best of library exists in this village, where the ancient Herman Library (Started by the Herman Gundart family) exists. Coming from city to a village, and that too in night was a horrifying experience to them but the real horror was only about to begin. The crows were waiting the arrival for they were not simple crows, but each have a name, all synonyms of night - Yamini, Nisa, Rajani and they were flying dead souls. Indu and Bindu are the twin daughters of Devi where Indu's IQ is well above. The crows welcome them with a wound in Indu's neck but within no time Indu and Bindu become friends to the crows. The crows were waiting and were waiting....for.....the suspense with chill will hit you slowly, steadily but surely....One more crow will be added (Chandrika, means moon) in the process and they will fight together in their night where a resurrect skeleton too will fight with them. Devi was waiting for a shoulder to rest her head, preferably in love and she will find it for sure, then, whether she will be part of the fight? Only time will tell.

Kakkakalude Rathri is special for its quality in content, depth in description, perfection in characterisation, creating best of situations and above all keeping the suspense till the end. Mohanachandran starts each chapter with a quote from literature. Some times a poem, sometimes a quote well suited to the situation which increases the ambiguity surrounded. That shows the quality reading the author possess. The novel doesn't attempt the 'hit from the start' formula but slowly and steadily increasing the pace till the final pages where each turning page increases the suspense. Events and emotions hold its grip harder and stronger with each turn. The novel throws light into Kerala's past and the contribution by the Herman family. (Herman Gundert, the French priest who published the first Malayalam dictionary and Herman Hesse, the novelist who won Nobel Prize). It created nostalgia for an India which we never lived, hand in hand with world cultures. It also warns us of the importance of keeping old records for they will be of great use for researchers.

The novel is enjoyable mainly for its suspense and mystery factor, but there is an equally powerful romantic track to keep the interest of the viewers. The love between the new generation Herman and Devi gives novelty in its approach. Always helpful and open minded Karunan of Kakkakalude Rathri carries the same character of Joseph of Kalika. The villain/ess in the novel is more brutal and powerful. The idea of giving life to a dead soul is novel and the writer uses it to create maximum impact in the climax.

Mohanachandran is a genius by his own right. When we consider getting an IAS, IPS or IFS as a great achievement, Mohanachandran won all three in the year 1965 and selects IFS as his mission. He was Ambassador and Consular General for India in various countries. This experience of him helps in writing the novel with the depth as well. You have to read his genius along with the novel. The first novel he wrote, 'Kalika' become a film in Malayalam and was a trend setter. I think this novel, The night of the crows didn't become a movie as such, but I can really see the influence of the book on one of the mile stone movie of Malayalam, Manichithrathazhu. (Which later remade to many Indian languages. In Hindi it was remade as Bhool Bhulaiyaa) No, it is not the exact copy or anything like that, but the inspiration to write that has come from this source. No doubt on that. Some of the situations do match as well, like the arrival from a distant place in the night, the making of the key, vasoori disease and the death, the old man's portrait and the stick, the mesmeric eyes when Nagavalli (of Manichinthrathazhu) explains the details of the ornaments etc. are examples. Another mystery movie, Ananthabhadramtoo borrowed a part of the novel, say the keeping of dead body in spirit etc.

There are some excellent life observations by Mohanachandran in the book.

The justice of God and nature is one and the same, bad for those who meddle with it.

If at least few people didn't felt a messiah complex (a state of mind in which an individual holds a belief that they are, or are destined to become a saviour, as per wiki) how God will shower rain to the world?

You ask what will not happen in our country. We have the twenty first century here. BC twenty first century as well.....Is there any shortage for Parda and for dowry? How many abortions are happening here knowing that it is going to be a baby girl?

Heavenly wisdom will always remain young at sixteen years

In Germany, government protects aged woman who live with their cats and dogs. They do not even like the sound of a falling needle for their ears have heard the sound of crackers of two world wars.

Each child over here is a Christ; each mother is a Mary. They are my cross of love. The wooden Cross you carry was much harder how joyful is my cross?

Undoubtedly, Kakkakalude Rathri is an excellent novel which one can read from start to finish in few hours but not without dropping few of your heart beats in between.

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Kakkakalude Rathri - Mohanachandran