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Kunjunni passes away

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Master of words
Master of words

K. Santhosh

Thrissur: Kunjunni, Malayalam poet, died in his ancestral house at Valapad, near here, on Sunday. He was 79.

The end came around 1 p.m. A bachelor, Kunjunni was living with his nephew.

Kunjunni did to Malayalam poetry what VKN did to short-story writing. They created their own styles, combining form, content, language and rhythm in a unique, compact fashion.

Kunjunni mostly wrote brief verse noted for its aural impact, simplicity, intensity and directness of expression. His poems comprise simple words, but they evoke complex thoughts.

In this sense, each poem of his invokes the philosophy of the haiku: focus on a brief moment in time, use of colourful imagery, quality of being read in a single breath and a sense of sudden enlightenment.

His major works include Oonu Thotturakkam Vare, Pazhamozhi Pathayam, Kunjunniyude Kavithal, Kadankathal, Vithum Muthum, Kutti Pencil, Namboodiri Phalithangal, Raashthriyam, Kuttikal Padunnu, Undanum Undiyum, Kutti Kavithakal, Kalikoppu, Pazhanchollukal, Pathinanchum Pathinanchum, Aksharathettu, Nonsense Kavithakal, Muthumani, Chakkarappava, Kadalippazham, Kalikkalam and Kunjunni Ramayanam. His autobiography, Enniloode, is noted for its candour, humour and simplicity.

His major contribution was in the field of children's literature. He handled the column for children in the Mathrubhoomi weekly under the pseudonym, Kuttettan, for long. He initiated three or four generations of aspiring writers into the world of words. He taught them correct language and introduced them to the magical realms of literature.

Athiyarathu House at Valappad is a familiar address to children across the State. They had been sending Kunjunni their literary works, scribbled on postcards, and used to get prompt replies. A poem or a short story corrected by Kunjunni has been highly prized by children.

Son of Njayapilly Illathu Neelakantan Moosath and Athiyarathu Narayani Amma, Kunjunni started his career as a teacher at the Chelari school. He joined Sree Ramakrishna Ashram High School in Kozhikode in 1953. He retired from service in 1982.

He returned to his native village, Valapad, in 1987 and was involved in socio-cultural activities in and around Thrissur.

He was a recipient of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award (1974, 1984), State Institute of Children's Literature Award (1982), Vazhakunnuam Award (2002) and the V.A. Kesavan Nair Award (2003). The Kerala Sahitya Akademi and the State Institute of Children's Literature conferred lifetime achievement awards on him in 1988 and 2002, respectively. Kunjunni has appeared in Bhoomigeetham, a film directed by Kamal.

Like his life, Kunjunni's art too was austere and positive. On reading each poem of his, one will say: life is beautiful.

He wrote: Oru valappottunden kayyil, Oru mayil peeli undullil, Virasa nimishangal sarasamakkaniva dharalamanenikkennum (I have a peacock feather in my heart/

I have a broken bangle piece in my hand/To make my dull moments lighter these are enough).

Teased about being short, the poet wrote: Pokkamillayma'yaa'nente pokkam. Categorising Kunjunni's art is a tall order. The reason: he is unique.

Death condoled

Special Correspondent adds from Thiruvananthapuram: Governor R.L. Bhatia and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy have condoled the death of poet Kunhunni Master.

"I am profoundly sad at the demise of Kunhunni Master, eminent children's poet. Cute and crisp, his pieces were spiced with rare insight into our life and times," the Governor said.

The Chief Minister said Kunhunni Master's contributions to Malayalam language and literature would be remembered.

Assembly Speaker Therambil Ramakrishnan, Public Works Minister M.K. Muneer, Minister for Local Self-Government Kutty Ahmed Kutty, Minister for Culture A.P. Anil Kumar and BJP State president P.S. Sreedharan Pillai condoled the death.

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