`Narmadipudava' is her most popular novel but Sara Thomas considers `Deivamakkal' her best work.
`Narmadipudava' - the 18-yard-sari woven with banana fibre that is worn by widows of the Brahmin community. Sara Thomas could not have found a better symbol for the travails of widowhood than this thick, coarse and colourless piece of cloth that is wound around the widow and forces her to lead a mummified existence. Sara Thomas in her novel `Narmadipudava' tells the story of Kanakam, who is forced to live as a widow though she lost her husband before the marriage was consummated. Now being made into a successful tele-serial, the novel won the Kerala Sahitya Akademy award in the year 1969 and has a dedicated fan following.Although `Narmadipudava,' which is into its tenth reprint, is her most popular novel, Sara Thomas considers `Deivamakkal,' the haunting story of the Dalit Kunjikkannan, her best work. Says Sara Thomas, "Kunjikkannan is a composite character and I have put together elements of several people I have met in sketching Kunjikkannan." This book has been translated into English by Sosanna Kuruvilla.Sara Thomas considers herself primarily a teller of stories. She has a keen eye for detail and for an authentic feel she takes great pains to visit places and mingle with people who figure in her novels. A prolific writer, Sara Thomas has brought out 17 novels and seven collections of short stories on a wide variety of themes. If `Deivamakkal' is about the bondage of caste-ridden society, `Narmadipudava' talks of another kind of bondage, enforced by the customs and rituals of orthodoxy. Her other works include `Asthamayam,' `Valakar,' `Archana,' `Grahanam,' `Penmanassukal' and `Neelakurinjikal Chuvakkumneram.'
Element of sorrowGoing through her works one cannot but notice the element of sorrow, almost bordering on the tragic that marks her stories. Sara Thomas admits, "My mind is drawn to those two eternal themes that have inspired writing from time immemorial, love and sorrow." Along with this, one finds a mind alert to social inequalities and sympathetic to just causes. Her way is a gentle portrayal, a calm and dignified way of drawing attention to inequities that prevail everywhere. Perhaps it is because of this subdued nature of her writing that she has not yet won the critical acclaim that she deserves. Sara Thomas herself is aware of this and says that though the literary establishment has by and large ignored her, many of her readers, including politicians like C. Achutha Menon and N.E. Balaram, and Professor Manmadhan had showered praises on her creative abilities.Sara Thomas has always preferred keeping a low profile, never projecting her self as a writer. This is evident from the fact that she has no room of her own to write. When a friend asked her where she does her writing, she pointed to the veranda, the drawing room and the dining room beyond saying that she puts the paper down where she could find a little space and write when she gets the time after all her household chores are over. Even her daughters became aware of her popularity as a writer only much after she had earned a place in the hearts of those who enjoy reading good stories. But there is one person who has always encouraged her and accompanied her in her wanderings as a writer: her husband, Dr. Thomas Zachariah. To him she dedicates her life's achievements.(The author is a reader of the Institute of English)