Readings on Kerala (1A02ENG)
1. What is the nature of "histories" according to Poykayil Appachan?
According to Poykayil Appachan, numerous versions of history exist in which the downtrodden people of the land are not mentioned. On the contrary, historical narratives about other prominent races or castes are many. In the poem, "About my Race: A Song", Poykayil Appachan problematizes the conspicuous absence of the references to first nation people in the history of our country. It is important to note that the way downtrodden people are portrayed in mainstream history is still a point of debate. Appachan uses the plural term "histories" to denote the existence of parallel narratives. According to him, none of those narratives does justice to the first nation population, the earliest inhabitants of the land.
2. Why was there no one in the ancient world to write the story of the poet's race?
There was no one to write the history of the poet's race because his race was the earliest inhabitants of this land. Here, the poet is referring to the first nation people, who are the downtrodden today. Poykayil Appachan invokes the analogy of a scribe to invoke the idea of dissemination of knowledge. The earliest inhabitants were ignored because no one wrote their history. This thought grieves the poet because he realizes the importance of written history. The absence of his race from the histories of the present time saddens the poet. Colonial forces have used writing as a tool to construct identities. Such an agenda was never part of the first nation communities, especially in premodern times.
3. What is the story that the poet wants to write about?
The poet wants to write a story about how the earliest occupants came to be regarded in Kerala. This thought springs from the understanding that mainstream histories do not mention the race of the poet who inhabited the land before anyone else. The poet decides to write the history of his people in a way uniquely personal. He reveals that he is not ashamed to reveal openly the weaknesses of his race if any. His race has been called "the cursed progeny" by the mainstream society. Poykayil Appachan intends to deconstruct popular notions regarding the marginalized race of the first nation people.
4. Why does the poet dismiss any sense of "shame" associated with the present condition of his race?
The poet dismisses any sense of "shame" associated with the present condition of his race because he understands that shame is a product of the mainstream culture. He does not see any fault in openly narrating all the weaknesses of his race. The poet expresses his intention to write a story about his race. As part of this process, he plans to use all details of his race, openly stating all its weaknesses. The marginalized first people of Kerala are often depicted as "the cursed progeny", according to Poykayil Appachan. The politics of marginalizing the first people is largely fuelled by the mainstream culture to authenticate its supremacy. Everything that does not fit into the mainstream notions of cleanliness, beauty, and intelligence, shall be viewed as aberrations and blamed. Appachan subverts this discourse by dismissing any sense of shame.
5. How does the poet bring in the concept of divinity or "God" in the poem?
The poem, "About my Race: A Song" has eight stanzas. The reference to divinity or "God" appears in the final stanza of the poem. The poet asks how God can allow the injustice of racism to continue. The poet refers to the God concept endorsed by creationism. According to this concept, God is a supreme being who created every living and nonliving entity on the earth. The question asked by the poet reflects the hopelessness felt by him on witnessing the reality of racism. It is interesting to meditate on how the poet arrives at the final question. He states that the mainstream forces in the culture of Kerala blame the first nations without any inhibitions. The poet draws on the reality of the racist culture of Kerala by pointing out that his race is often called "the cursed progeny". Before, bringing God into the poem, the poet asks, if racial discrimination would continue endlessly. This question gives the poem a tone of hopelessness, which is cemented by the final stanza.
REF: Multiple Modernities, edited by Board of Editors, Kannur University, Cohin: Hornbill Publishing House, 2019. Print.