Saturday, October 15, 2011

Othappu

The Novel Othappu by the celebrated Malayalam feminist writer Sara Joseph has a strong woman character Margalita. Set against the life of Christian Thrissur, the novel depicts how Margalita, a nun hailing from one of the ancient Syrian Christian families flouts all traditions to fall in love with a Christian priest Roy Francis Kareekan. Their love is made intense by the vows of chastity that both of them have to keep and they throw away everything just to be together. But is breaking all rules to be with the beloved worth the trouble? Which is more important listening to your heart's voice or listening to the world? These are some of the questions posed by the novel.

Instead of creating a melodrama out of a delicate subject of love between a nun and a priest, Sara Joseph has delicately handled it but at the same time creating a very strong woman character before whom every other character pales in comparison. She is like a rock in times of trouble and creates her own identity in a society that has divested of all her previous roles- daughter, sister, believer and nun. For her, "love is joy; the joy of love is God; and when you can keep the joy of love in your heart, the whole world will be at peace and the earth will blossom" as she lives a life of sacrifice with Nanu, an orphan child and her unboby baby in her womb.
The English translation of the novel by Rev. Dr. Valson Thampu and published by OUP is also available as Othappu: The Scent of the Other Side 

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