Punathil Kunhabdulla, a well-known Malayalam fiction writer, died at the age of 77 in Calicut on Friday, October 27. He suffered a prolonged illness over the past several months.
The much acclaimed author, who was also a doctor by profession, won several awards in his lifetime apart from bagging the Sahitya Akademi for ‘Smarakasilakal’ (Memorial Stones), a novel based on a cemetery, an old mosque and the life of the people around it. The story of a feudal lord, Khan Pookkoya Thangal, and the patriarchal system in a remote village is portrayed with the help of myths and legends.
Kunhabdulla was a well-known Malayalam writer, who published more than 45 books, including 7 novels, 15 short story collections, memoirs, an autobiography and travelogues.
He received both the state and national-level Sahitya Akademi awards for his work. Some of his acclaimed works include ‘Aligadhile Tadavukaran’ and ‘Marunnu’.
‘Aligadhile Tadavukaran’, is the story of a student who goes to Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) from Kerala and is captivated by the life of Aligarh. He becomes reluctant to go back and decides to stay back at Aligarh.
‘Marunnu’, on the other hand, is a novel that narrates the story on the life of MBBS students and of a medical college. Many of his personal experiences are also blended in the novel.
Punathil was known as the ‘Aligadhinte Kathakaran’ (writer of Aligarh) as he introduced Aligarh in Malayalam literature after his stay in the Uttar Pradesh city.
Aligadhile Tadavukaran (The Prisoner in Aligarh), Marunnu (Medicine), AligadhKathakal (Aligarh stories) are some of the famous books on Aligarh that he wrote.
As an MBBS student, he spent 9 years in Aligarh Muslim University (1962-1970) and during his stay at Room No. 31 at VM Hal of AMU, he would write short stories on Aligarh and publish them in Malayalam journals.
Cycle Savairi (Cycle Riding), Jeevachavangal (Living Cadavers) MoulanaInam Khureshi, Kathi (Knife) Velichaththinte Maranam (Death of Light) Smasanathilekku Nayikkunna Njan (Leading by me Towards the Graveyard) are some of the most known short stories on his Aligarh days.
Punathil also talks of instances of ragging in AMU, which is referred to as “introduction of the customs and traditions”. The Keralite also became popular among fellow Aligarhis through his writings.
In 2009, after a gap of over 40 years, he revisited Aligarh and spent three days on the campus. He delivered a University Extension Lecture at the conference Hall in March 2009 and in his speech, he admitted that he has not spent a single day without remembering Aligarh.
“As a writer, I am indebted to Aligarh for my literary success.”
Punathil later donated 30 books to the Malayalam Section of the Department of Modern Indian Languages.
Aligadh Kathakal is a collection of short stories related to Aligarh, which he insisted must be released in AMU itself and visited his alma mater in 2012, to release the book.
Punathil Kunhabdullah, as a major contributor to modern Malaylam literature, induced a new sensibility in his narration along with a unique literary style. His writings will last a long time and Aligarh will also be remembered through his writings.
On this day, the Malayalam department of the Aligarh Muslim University deeply mourns the sad demise of Punathil Kunhabdulla.Author is a Professor at the Malayalam Department of Modern Indian Languages, Aligarh Muslim University.