Plamenammayi is a unique read. While other reads of late were like tarred roads running through a town or a village and could be read in one straight go, this one meandered through the lanes and bylanes of rustic Kerala. A journey that was steeped in the pleasures and pains of life some 50 years ago in a nondescript village of Kerala.
The joy of reading was intense in the beginning but as the pages turned, the delight multiplied to reach a crescendo. The story is told through prose that amicably shares borders with poetry; fantasy and reality beautifully entwine to create a picture of a hearty life that has almost vanished.
Plamenammayi is the central character, a typical old-world Christian woman from an imaginary Kerala village – practical, eccentric, humane, crude, and sensitive. There is subtle humour and empathy when the author says that the only time Plamenammayi got to stretch herself and relax was when she fell from a tree and broke her legs.
Realism stays all throughout and finishes neatly with the verse in which the writer says a proof to life not being an illusion is that there are people now, as during Plamenammayi’s time, who chant that life is an illusion.
To write the book, K.R. Tony may have drawn from his experiences, his reading, and understanding of life but the manner in which he paints the world of Plamenammayi with words does not bear the colours of trends seen of late.
Prose and poetry mildly complement each other in every setting, giving ample space to the concept to bloom and fill the readers' mind with nostalgia. The style, call it prose, poetry or both, thus remains understated and subtle.
It is as though Tony wanted the words to talk less and his heart to speak more. True, to read the book in full, one has to read delicately between the lines.