Friday, November 1, 2019

The Kuttippuram Bridge (Kuttippuram Paalam) by Edasseri Govindan Nair: Paragraph Questions

Kannur University

Common Course
Readings on Kerala (1A02ENG)

1. How does the narrator contrast the river and the newly constructed bridge?
The narrator contrasts the river and the newly constructed bridge by feeling proud of standing on the bridge and elating at the height of the material development of modernization. The poet experiences elation or joy at being so high while standing on the bridge. The kingfisher and sparrows the poet observed while dipping in the river as a child only achieved this height. The narrator is in awe of the ability of the human being to construct such a powerful symbol of victory over nature. However, this proud feeling is short-lived.

2. Explain the usage "doing a tame Naatta".
Edasseri Govindan Nair in his poem "The Kuttippuram Bridge" presents a narrator who is proud of being on a bridge that shows the supremacy of human engineering skill. In his joy at being able to reach the heights only touched by the sparrows and birds of his childhood days, the narrator sees the river as a tamed beast of wilderness. "Naatta" is an expression that means crawling on all fours between the legs of the victor as a penalty upon losing a game. In this context, by using such an expression, the poet shows that between the powerful legs of the bridge, the river crawls like a defeated person. The river, according to the narrator, is capable of obliterating its shores with its feral powers. However, with the strength of the bridge, modern humans can connect the two sides of the powerful river across which no birds flew or boats crossed while it would be swollen and wild with water.   

3. The poem oscillated between 'pride' and 'pain'. Explain.
According to the narrator, the Kuttippuram Bridge is built with an expense of twenty-three lakh rupees. The bridge is tall and strong that stands proud above the river Perar. During the season of floods, no boat would go across the river and no kite would dare to fly above the river. The bridge, however, stands tall and the narrator laughs with pride at the thought the bridge defeating the river's strength. However, this feeling is short-lived. The narrator's gaze now falls upon the countryside, the "Gramalakshmi", which is receding into oblivion. The village of the narrator is slowly engulfed by roads, vehicles, and concrete buildings, which represent modern urbanization. The narrator is saddened by the thought of flowers, trees, and traditional 'kavus' going extinct. He wonders if the river would one day turn into a reeking drain. His village used to be a quiet place, full of beauty. Now, it has become noisy with all the vehicles and less attractive with its paddy fields and meadows going extinct. The gradual loss of the village to the usurping modernization pains the narrator. The poem oscillates between 'pride' and 'pain'. On the one hand, the achievements of the industrial revolution make the narrator proud and on the other, he feels pain at seeing his environment degenerate into a foul thing. 

4. How does the narrator describe the beauty of the village?
The narrator describes the beauty of the village by addressing the village as "Gramalakshmi". He states that the village is his playmate from childhood. Acknowledging the quickly receding features of the village and its nearing collapse, the poet goes on invoking the beauty of the rural countryside. The wide expanse of the paddy fields helps green and yellow of nature mix with each other in a playful manner. Groves and houses with their fruit-bearing trees stand witness to the slops blanketed with flowers of many colours. Elegant lamps light the premises of kavus, where people gather around the peepal tree with a stone-circled base, signifying socialization and intermingling. The night of this village is fearsome with its silence and the daytime is filled with the melodies of the farmers ploughing their fields. The narrator contrasts these elegant features with the stark reality of modern urbanization. To achieve this effect the poet paints a village where soot, cement, and steel overwhelm the flowery innocence of the village. The night is robbed of its silence and the day is usurped by the fast-moving life of urban individuals. By forming this hopeless picture of mindless urbanization, the poet enhances the beautiful image of the village that he had shared earlier.   

5. How does the narrator describe the onset of urbanization?
The narrator describes the onset of urbanization in his prophetic portrayal of the village of his childhood as a foul thing overwhelmed by soot, cement, and steel. Buildings of concrete and steel replace flowering meadows. There is a shortage of space as walls are erected everywhere. Days and nights are noisy with vehicles and people fighting with each other. Strangers have started residing in the neighbourhoods. Conflicts between strangers are on the rise. Neighbours are no longer familiar with each other. They have become total strangers to each other. The narrator shares his concerns regarding the river Perar. The fathomless depths such as Malloorkkayam shall no longer be fathomless. The deity of Malloor may soon be a wayside deity. The grandeur of Anthimahakalan Kunnu shall also be lost as an aftermath of the mindless urbanization. The poet invokes the image of a child robot while describing the bleak future of Anthimahakalan Kunnu. He says that the hill may seem like a spinning top hurled by a quick-tempered child robot. The poet suggests a post-humanist scenario of a culture where human beings are turning into machines and their sensibilities are lost. He wonders if Perar, the mother-like figure, would turn into sad and foul-smelling drainage.

 6. What are the similes, metaphors, and images used by the narrator to represent mechanised development?
A simile is a figure of speech that is used to compare one thing with another. In "The Kuttippuram Bridge" the poet uses several samples of similes. For example, his use of a spinning top to explain the state of the hill named Anthimahakalan Kunnu in the aftermath of modernization is a simile. Metaphor is a figure of speech, which is applied to a word or action to which it is not related out of the poetic context. For example, the poet addresses the village as his playmate. Images such as soot, cement, and steel reigning over flowers, and the river Perar turning into a reeking drain are used to convey the destruction and damage caused by the mechanised development.
REF: Multiple Modernities, edited by Board of Editors, Kannur University, Cohin: Hornbill Publishing House, 2019. Print. 

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