A guided tour through Usman: The Life of a Martyr

Reflections on Usman: The Life of a Martyr by P. Gangadharan. 
Production of this book was supported by PK Usman Memorial Trust, Chalakkara.

Subtitled as “A biographical sketch of P K Usman who dies a martyr to Mahe’s freedom”, Usman: The Life of a Martyr, has 114 pages and is priced at 125 rupees. It has a forward written by Dr. K.K.N Kurup, former Vice Chancellor of University of Calicut and a well-respected historian of Kerala, especially of Malabar. There are eleven chapters; most of them can stand independently as small essays, second chapter being longest with 20 pages. Appendix include an extract from a letter written by PK Usman to his mentor and colleague Mangalat Raghavan (A key figure in Mahe’s independence movement, leader of Mahe Socialist Party, a well-known journalist and writer in his later part of life after Mahe’s independence.). There is a set of old photographs under “A saga remembered” as an addendum to the book.

A crisply written forward by Dr.K.K.N Kurup captures the growth of political and social awareness in Mahe by tracing formation various political organizations within Mahe in the context of nationalist movements outside French Mahe. He finds this book relevant and he says that it must be something to be written, otherwise Dr. Kurup feels, rightly so, that “future generations will think that our freedom was free gift…”

Author’s preface, in a way set the tone for the book to come. A Martyr is a mystery, author states in the preface, and “… he suffers and suffering is his destiny. He is unbeaten because he has great capacity of endurance”. It’s this almost indescribable endurance that author wants to capture from the life of his hero. Author feels that “… everything is forgotten now…” (Now means today and forgotten by younger generations) and author firmly believes that “Unforgivable is will be our thanklessness…” not to remember and understand the lives like PK Usman in the fast changing snacking world of today. The book is a way for author to say “thank you”, not only to PK Usman, but to all those brave soldiers of freedom, who tirelessly worked to bring in a new dawn for their society, sometimes paying the ultimate price with their own life. This feeling of gratefulness aptly colors the rest of the text of the book throughout.

The main text of the book starts at evening of 3rd Nov 1948, almost in the middle of PK Usman’s political life, just after the first success of Mahe’s freedom was thwarted. After a brief, mostly ceremonial trial at the Administrative office, Usman Master is being taken to jail just a short walk away from the Office. Fictionalized with imagination taking its own pace, author provides first glimpse of his subject in this chapter named “A Martyr in the Making”.

Chapter 2, “The socio-political situation that creates a nationalist” is the longest chapter in the book. This chapter succinctly traces French rule in Mahe and Mahe’s freedom movement and provides national and social forces that will determine the way Usman’s personality will be molded. This chapter details the various political parties and movements that were active in Mahe, the intriguing formation and dissolution of the short lived first Administrative Council formed by the people of Mahe, and the mass exodus of people that followed.

Chapter 3 “Usman – birth and early life”, explains how Usman’s world view was formed at an early stage. His love of books, Gandhiji’s influence on his life, becoming an activist in Socialist Student Union at a tender age, deep connection with IK Kumaran Master and above all his love for Hindi is painted briefly in this chapter. The episodes relating Usman Master’s relationship with N N Kurupu and Pappu Master is very heart-warming.

The main focus of the chapter 4, “Engagements in social activities” is Usman’s social activities and leadership, especially its crowning achievement in the form of Mohammad Abdu Rahiman Smaraka Mandiram (MASM), for a long time Chalakkara’s center of social enlightenment. (This writer has many nostalgic memories about the Reading Place, especially about the “strip of rocks under a cluster of banyan tree”. And this is also place where this writer read a newspaper first time)

The fifth chapter, “First arrest and imprisonment”, takes us back to the events just before the scene described in first chapter. Usman master was arrested in school where he was teaching and taken to Administrative office for the trial. Written in “eye witness” point of view, here we see Usman being arrested amidst his students at Palloor and being walked to Mahe, passing villages on the way including MASM library at Chalakkara. At the end of the trial, he was sentenced to jail for five years and spend those 5 years in Mahe Jail. After a long 5 years, almost 29 now, Usman came out of jail and walked right into the thick of gathering storm of Mahe independence movement and put himself forward to carry on Individual Sathyagraha that was planned as final push for independence.

Chapter 6: “Individual Sathyagraha”, mainly describes that fateful set of events occurred in the month of April of 1954:- the individual Sathyagraha in Mahe and Palloor, Operation Cherukkalai where two nationalists were killed, and eventual liberation of almost all pockets of Mahe, except the Mahe town. Usman and Kannan were beaten by thugs on Mahe road and later at Mahe Police station and were put into jail for almost a month. The effect of brutal beating that he suffered during this time later will become so serious and eventually will lead him to his untimely death at the age of 34.

The Chapter 7 (“Final March for liberation”) describes the final march of freedom by Mahajanasabha to capture the Mahe town and its eventual success and formation of a care taker government. Usman was one of the council members and though physically devastated, participated in the care taker government and its deliberations.

Next four small chapters describes the post independent life of PK Usman, his deteriorating health, harrowing battle to save his life, his continued activities in social life of Chalakkara and his eventual death at Vellur hospital. There is a digression of sorts about the cultural and literature activities at MASM where he was involved which will become a hallmark of Challakara for a long time to come.

Structural incompleteness of the book is not such an impediment to proper reading, but is worth mentioning here briefly. Author seems to be deriving his material from very many oral histories available to him, especially to reconstruct the personal history of Usman Master. But if they are properly documented, compared and cross checked is not evident from the text, as a good historical analysis is supposed to do. Digitizing those oral histories and creating an online repository of all primary sources would have been a good companion site to this book. A well edited index would have been useful as wells as a list of detailed references sources that author used for the curious students to go further than the text. Given that almost non-liner narration technique is used in the book, a well created timeline that linearly show Mahe’s main events super imposed with Usman master’s personal history time line that is added either to the beginning or at the end of the text would have made reading this book far more easier. There are good photographs; I think rare ones, at the end of the book. Publishing team could have taken care to add proper captions to these photos. For individual photos captioned with name and birth year and if not alive, year of death would have anchored the actors in the book properly into reader’s mind. It would have been nice if all the individuals in the group photos are identified in caption, placing the main character visually in context of local and national political landscape of the time. Cover photo is very attractive and memory inspiring, but I was wondering if an icon of colonial rule (Administrative building of French Mahe) was an appropriate cover for life history of Usman master, especially when author focus on the sacrifice Usman Master made instead of work of Usman master as a member of ad-hoc government formed after the independence.

Nevertheless, the book indeed tells an unlikely story of an ordinary person confronted with extraordinary circumstances of history of his place and time. And that story of PK Usman is told with uncommon empathy and fluency by author is laudable. Focusing intensely on a short period of history of Mahe, instead laboring on details of large span of time of its history, narrative gifts of the author ( and his love and respect to his subject) as he unreels the awe-inspiring story of PK Usman is evident in almost every page of this book. You should read this book.


Usman: The Life Of A Martyr  : By P. Gangadharan: With Photos. 114 pp. Olive Publications (Pvt.) Ltd. 120 India Rupees. Production of this book was supported by PK Usman Memorial Trust, Chalakkara.
Production of this book was supported by PK Usman Memorial Trust, Chalakkara.

ഇതര ഭാഷയിലെ പ്രണയ ലേഖനങ്ങള്‍ : മലയാളം കഥകള്‍ – Available Now

മഞ്ഞുതുള്ളിയുടെ പ്രണയ മാധുര്യവും, നിഷ്കളങ്കമായ പ്രതികാരവും, രാഷ്ട്രീയ കൊലപാതകങ്ങളോടുള്ള പ്രതിരോധവും പ്രതിബിംബിക്കുന്ന മലയാള മണമുള്ള കഥകള്‍.

ഉള്ളടക്കം ( മൂന്നു കഥകള്‍ )

വസൂരിമാല തബുരാട്ടി
ഇതര ഭാഷയിലെ പ്രണയലേഖനങ്ങള്‍

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Publication Date:Nov 09 2014
ISBN/EAN13:1503171418 / 9781503171411
Page Count:74
Binding Type:US Trade Paper
Trim Size:6″ x 9″
Color:Black and White
Related Categories:Fiction / Short Stories



വസ്സൂരിമാല തബുരാട്ടി (Read an excerpt from the story Vasoorimala Tamburatti)

ഇതര ഭാഷകളിലെ പ്രണയലേഖനങ്ങള്‍ (Read an excerpt from the story “Ithara Bhashayile Pranaya Lekhanagal”)

കൂട്ടുപ്രതികള്‍ (Read an excerpt from the story “Kootuprathikal”)


(Photo courtesy: Sandeep Mohankumar)

ഇതര ഭാഷയിലെ പ്രണയലേഖനങ്ങള്‍ കഥയിലെ ഒരു ഭാഗം

ഇതര ഭാഷയിലെ പ്രണയലേഖനങ്ങള്‍ കഥയിലെ ഒരു ഭാഗം

മിനിയപ്പോളിസ്, 2014

“ഒന്നു തുറന്ന്‍ വായിക്കൂന്നേ…”, ചതുരാകൃതിയിലുള്ള കണ്ണട സല്‍വാറിന്‍റെ തുബ് കൊണ്ട് തുടച്ചു, നെറ്റിയില്‍ വീണ മുടിച്ചുരുളുകള്‍ ഇടത്ത് കൈ കൊണ്ട് മെല്ലെ മുകളിലോട്ടു കോതി, സോഫയില്‍ കുറച്ചു കൂടി അടുത്തേക്കു ഇരുന്ന്‍, തന്‍റെ നീണ്ട ചൂണ്ടു വിരല്‍ കൊണ്ട് സന്തോഷിന്‍റെ കൈയ്യൊന്ന് മെല്ലെ അമര്‍ത്തി രിഹാന പറഞ്ഞു. പഴയ ഏതോ നോട്ട്ബുക്കില്‍ നിന്ന്‍ പറിച്ചെടുത്ത താളില്‍ മനോഹരമായി എഴുതിയ വരികള്‍ സന്തോഷ് സാവധാനം വായിച്ചു.

പ്രിയപ്പെട്ട രിഹാനാ,
മൌനം ഹരിതവും
വെളിച്ചം ഈര്‍പ്പവും ആയ
ശലഭചിറകുകളില്‍ ത്രസിക്കുന്ന ഈ ജൂണില്‍
പ്രേമം മിന്നല്‍പിളരുകളില്‍ കലാപം കൂട്ടുമ്പോള്‍
ഏകാന്തമായ ഒരുവീടുപോലെ
എന്‍റെ ജനലുകള്‍ വേദനിച്ചമരുo വരെ
നിന്നെ കാണാന്‍, നീ എന്നില്‍ ജീവിക്കാന്‍
ഞാനിവിടെ കാത്തിരിക്കുന്നു….

പുറത്തു, തടാകങ്ങളുടെ ഈ അമേരിക്കന്‍ നഗരത്തില്‍, ആകാശം ഒരു ഹിമവാതത്തിനാക്കം കൂട്ടുന്നുണ്ട്. തണുപ്പ് പലപാളി വസ്ത്രങ്ങളില്‍ പൊതിയവെ ആളുകള്‍ ഒരു നഗരതാപദ്വീപിനായി പ്രാത്ഥിച്ചുപോയി. തടാകശ്രീoങ്ങലകള്‍ക്കു ചുറ്റും ദമ്പതികള്‍ ഐപോടിന്‍റെ സംഗീത രസത്തില്‍ ഉലാത്തുന്നത് എന്നേ നിറുത്തിയിരിക്കുന്നു. പക്ഷേ, ഹാരിയറ്റ് തടാകത്തിന്‍ കരയില്‍ പലതരത്തിലും വര്‍ണ്ണങ്ങളിലും ഉള്ള പട്ടങ്ങള്‍ പരത്തി കുട്ടികള്‍ ആഹ്ളാദാരവം മുഴയ്ക്കുന്നുണ്ടു. സാവധാനം തണുത്തുറയുന്ന തടാകത്തിന്നുമുകളില്‍, ചെറുപ്പക്കാര്‍ സ്കെടുബോര്‍ഡുമായി പറക്കാനായ് ഒരുങ്ങുന്നുണ്ട്.


ഈ കഥയുടെ മുഴുവന്‍ ഭാഗവും , “ഇതര ഭാഷയിലെ പ്രണയലേഖനങ്ങള്‍” എന്ന ആമസോണ്‍ പ്രസിദ്ധീകരിക്കുന്ന കഥാസമാഹാരത്തില്‍ ലഭ്യമാണ്

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World

The Geography of Bliss Book Review: The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner

Happiness is “home” and a book that is illuminating and funny
Eric Weiner does an year long journey into places that are contradictory and different, in search of what makes people happy. He sometimes get into science of happiness studies and weaves his tongue in cheek observations and conclusions into actual travails that he had endured. He participates with the societies he finds himself into and focuses on “normal” people in those societies. If happiness is all about places, author does not give any definitive reasons to it, but the journey itself and the way it is narrated is so beautiful that you will enjoy reading this book until the end and will hope for more. If you are from some of the societies which he describes, like India where I am from, you will feel that some of his observations are perfunctory. But considering the complexities of any society and the time he had to spend with each of them being very little, it is something you can pass over without being offended.

Published in Amazon Review

Pythagorean Theorem and Bhaskara’s Proof

The Pythagorean Theorem is one of the most celebrated mathematical theorem in the world. According Guinness Book World of Records, it boasts more than 500 proofs. Most famous of the proof is the proof provided by Euclid in Elements

Many mathematicians from antiquity to modern times had marveled at this rule and proved it in different ways. Here we will see how Bhaskara, one of the most important mathematicians of old India proved it geometrically.
The theorem says a2 + b2 = c2 : where a and b are sides of a right triangle and c is its hypotenuse
Bhaskara gives the following diagram to prove the theorem:

Bhaskara’s description of Pythagoras Theorem

From the picture, you can see that
Area Large squire is = Area of all 4 triangles + area of smaller squire
c * c = 4 * ( 1/2 ) a * b + (b-a) * (b-a) = 2ab – ( a2 + b2 + 2ab)
c2 = a2 + b2
which is the Pythagorean theorem

Monsoon Rain

{ A personal memory about Monsoon Rains in Kerala. Written for my daughter when she was 4 years old}

Dearest Malu,

Malu, I hope you are fine and having fun. Mummy told me that you have cold and is going to doctor. This is rainy season and sometimes kids and even big people get cold and fever. That is ok so far as you have medicine and keeps yourself fine. Is it raining outside now? I can imagine you standing near the grills and watching the rain pouring outside. If you listen, you can hear tut-tut sound of the rain drops falling on “muutam”. They make lots circles in the puddle and it is fun to watch a naughty rain drop breaking the circles now and then. Sometimes it is sunny. And then… it becomes sloooowly dark and sun hides behind clouds. Is he playing hide and seek with his friends in the sky? Maybe. You could feel no sound for sometime and can see dark clouds filling the sky. And suddenly it starts raining again. Take a deep breath and you can feel nice smell when the rain falls on the grass.

It is fun playing in the rain. You can slap your feel in the puddle and can hear plup-plup sound. Extend you palm into the falling rain from the veranda and drops will do chuk-chuk on your little palm. It is cold also. But be careful, the muttam is wet and you might slip over. Also make sure that mummy dries you out well, otherwise you can get cold. You can see water flowing slowly in the muttam and if you go outside the gate, you can see water running fast in the drainage. You can sit inside and can even make a paper boat. I have attached a note on how to make a paper boat along with this mail. It is easy and fun. Mummy will help you. Then you can keep it in the water outside and can see your little boat move up and down in the water. And if you keep the boat in the drainage outside, you will see it going faster. Do not try to get it back, we can make another one.

Sometimes you think rain is really boring. Always raining and raining. Have you wondered why we need rain? Look outside, you can see the Guava tree full of green leaves and muttam is getting covered with grass. They are so because of water rain gives. Without rain, we will not have rice, and vegetables. You might think then that we can eat chicken biriyani all day. But even chicken needs water and you drink water too. That water comes from rain. But raining too much also causes problems. Water will come everywhere, sometimes even come inside houses. It is called flood, but we are ok since Ammama’s house is good and water will not come inside.

If you listen again, you can almost hear rain singing to you. It sings almost like your dance teacher saying tha-thei-thithathei. Some people think music can make rain. There was singer who lived long back called Thansen. He was living with a big king and one time there was no rain in his place. So he sang and sang a particular song and that made clouds so dark. He kept on signing and then sky opened up and rained.

But really, from where does this rain come? Ya! You know that it comes from sky. But from where sky gets that water? Everybody gets water from the sea. There is a big ocean near Ammama’s house. You ask mummy to take you there. You can go to baby beach and can see Sea. It is called Arabian Sea. It is big pot of water. It so big, you can’t see the other side of it. It is so big and you can see waves hitting against the land. It is fun to watch. Watch Ammama making “chooru”. She takes water in a “chembu” and keeps it on the stove. You will see that pot is almost full when she keeps it on stove. Sea is like that pot with water. And then sun heats up sea and water from sea goes up in the sky. If you watch Ammama’s rice pot, after stove is turned on, you can see this yourself. See that whitish smoke coming out of the pot. Where are they going? They are going UP. It is not smoke, it is vapor. Sun does the same thing with water in the sea and water becomes vapor and goes up and up in the sky. And they become clouds. Clouds with a lot water vapor will be dark in color. Pappa does not why. When the rice is on the stove, you take a clean lid and show it over the pot. See the inside the lid, what do you see? Water drops!!. See how you moved water from the pot to the lid without touching water in the pot!. Big big hills and big winds are like the lid in your hand. When big wind from sea moves these clouds in the sky, they become cool and they become water again. And that is what rain is. Big people call this, Water cycle and some other big people call this as Hydrologic cycle.

After the rain is stopped, you can go outside and see. Most of the time you will not see much water in the muttam. It rained all day and where does the water go? Some of it goes under ground and trees and plants drink it from there. Sometimes we dig a big hole in the ground to fetch water. This is called Wells. You can see a well in Achamma’s house.

The rain that you get now is because of Monsoon winds blowing from sea nearby. It will rain until September. So in Kannur now is Monsoon season, where as for Pappa in US it is summer. Funny isn’t it? The Monsoon is an Arabic word. As you know Arabic is a language they speak in Dubai, where Akkuchechi is. We speak Malayalam in Kannur and this letter is written in English. The Monsoon rains are real fun, you see sun outside and thinking that it won’t rain, you dress up. You are about to get out of the house, suddenly it will start raining. Sometimes there will be a big wind – storm – that comes with rain, you will see big coconut trees almost dancing. Sometimes there is lightning- that big flash like somebody is taking a picture of you- and thunder too. That is why climate scientists – people studying monsoon- call it whimsical, unpredictable.

There are so many songs about rain. If you go to internet, you will get many many songs there. You already know “Rain Rain go away” song. Pappa really don’t like that song. Remember the old man who was snoring when raining and bumping his head on the top of the head song. Mummy knows it and she will sing it for you. Here is a funny song for you from US

Doctor Foster went to Gloucester
In a shower of rain,
He stepped in a puddle,
Right up to his middle,
And never went there again.

You can read Gloucester as “gloster”. You see it rhymes with Foster.

Pappa got another song about a mummy and a girl going to school in rain. This is a Japanese song. Japan is a country like India and US, but it is in Pacific Ocean. Read this aloud and it is real fun

Rainy day, rainy day, I like it;
My mother will come here with my umbrella,
Pitch pitch, chap chap, run run run!

Bag on my shoulder, I follow my mother;
A bell is ringing somewhere,
Pitch pitch, chap chap, run run run!

Oh oh, that girl is dripping wet;
She is crying under the willow,
Pitch pitch, chap chap, run run run!

Mother, mother, I’ll lend her my umbrella;
“Hi girl, use this umbrella,”
Pitch pitch, chap chap, run run run!

I am all right, don’t worry,
Mother will take me in under her big umbrella,
Pitch pitch, chap chap, run run run!

Hey! “Pitch pitch, chap chap, run run run” is the sound of rain!

With lots of love