The Veiled: Lalitambika Antharjanam

[This is an excerpt from my translation of her story included in the volume On the Far Side of Memory, New Delhi, OUP, 2018. ‘Moodupadathil’ is one of her masterful indictments of the unending agonies of Malayala brahmin women subjected to the most restrictive seclusion in the brahmin home, the illam. All these stories, however, desist from portraying these women as passive victims. Each of the tragic female protagonists in these stories show clear signs of agency: the tragedy, for Lalitambika, is not that they are devoid of agency.] Continue reading “The Veiled: Lalitambika Antharjanam”

Prasadam: Lalitambika Antharjanam

[This is an excerpt from my translation of her story included in the volume On the Far Side of Memory, New Delhi, OUP, 2018. It is a sharp critique of the reformism among Malayala brahmins, and of Reformer-Man who saw women as mere passive objects of his reformism] Continue reading “Prasadam: Lalitambika Antharjanam”

Realism: Lalitambika Antharjanam

[This is an early version of my translation of this story included in the volume titled On the Far Side of Memory, New Delhi: OUP, 2018]

[This brilliant take-down of  the hypocrisies of men who advanced progressive realism in Malayalam literature of the 1940s, brought Lalitambika many enemies and the equivalent of ‘trolling’ those days, in a ‘reaction-story’ by none other than Takazhi Sivasankara Pillai, who accused her of sexual frigidity] Continue reading “Realism: Lalitambika Antharjanam”

On the Far Side of Memory: Lalithambika Antharjanam

[This is an excerpt from the translation appeared in the collection titled On the Far Side of Memory, New Delhi, OUP, 2018]

Down through the immense surge of energy it flowed, the seed of life…. From where did it arrive? What led it here? Memories….there were not much that could be called memories. He could sense himself wildly thrashing about, shuddering in distress, as if rudely roused from long slumber…Movement. And more movement.  Nothing in his consciousness but the fresh upsurge of movement. Nothing was perceivable, not the shifts of time, nor of space. And yet, the whiff of an instinct, of a great journey, sweeping in from the past. Some unique, still distinct trace. What is this that disturbs me, he thought. Like a drop that’s flung afar by the force of some tempest striking hard at the waves of infinity, I am all alone. The feeling of being absolutely alone. . Can I survive? Is it possible? Continue reading “On the Far Side of Memory: Lalithambika Antharjanam”

The Sugar-Sweet Kiss: Lalitambika Antharjanam

[This is an excerpt from the translation included in the collection of her translated short stories On the Far Side of Memory, New Delhi, OUP, 2018]


Two little eyes opened, just a teeny bit. But shut tight again, as if the light jabbed them. He stretched, nice and slow. A moment at the line dividing sleep and wake. Sleep had bid goodbye. Wake had not yet arrived. Continue reading “The Sugar-Sweet Kiss: Lalitambika Antharjanam”

“Don’t We Need Variety?”: K Saraswathi Amma


Surrounded by all those medicine-bottles, seated on the chair with the book open on her lap, shielding her eyes from the light with her right hand and sniffing the inhaler held in her left, Susheela looked the very archetype of the Sick Woman. She lifted her head and looked at the clock. Nearly two o’clock.  Her husband was still not home. She put the book on the table, got up and took the feeding bottle. Raising the mosquito-net, she fed the baby with it. Continue reading ““Don’t We Need Variety?”: K Saraswathi Amma”

Family Eminence: K Saraswathi Amma



The clouds of dusk had already turned the fine sand in the front of the house to gold.  As soon as she reached home from the printers’, Kamalamma pulled off the neryathu, brooch and all, and threw it on the clothesline before she ran to her mother. “Wretchedly tired from composing,” she said, “lots of material had to be printed urgently today – can I have gruel and whatever’s for dinner right now, Amma?” Continue reading “Family Eminence: K Saraswathi Amma”

The Womanly Birth: K Saraswathi Amma


Malathy was furious. “Indeed! You have all possible tricks in this world up your sleeve! Total loose cannon – in word and deed! But will you let anyone pick a fight with you or get angry? No, no, you take out the charm, the cooing! Hug, put arms around their neck, hold up their chin, and what all other sorts of darling –y antics? Look, Santhy, stop this clowning now!” Continue reading “The Womanly Birth: K Saraswathi Amma”

The Woman Subordinate: K Saraswathi Amma

Paru Amma sat still, forgetting her surroundings, not even noticing that the rice had boiled over and extinguished the hearth. On her right side hung a large coconut-palm fronds-mat. She had to barely turn her head; through a gaping hole in the mat, everything next door could be seen. The other side of the road was elevated. The number of rooms in that house, the exact spot where the kitchen stood, the bathroom – Paru Amma knew it all. Her memories would fly back to her maidenhood when someone came occasionally to stay there. Once she reached that time, her mind would  dwell upon the house and it alone. Continue reading “The Woman Subordinate: K Saraswathi Amma”