1. Why is the recovery of the history of Eri important to the narrator?
Eri, the character represents the historically downtrodden people in the Parayan community in Kerala. However, the history of Eri is unwritten. Pradeepan Pampirikkunnu uses the medium of the novel to establish the prehistory of the Parayan Caste. The recovery of the history of Eri is important to the narrator because he was impressed as a subaltern linguist by the legend of Eri. The narrator had heard stories of Eri from his father. Eri lived during the time of his father’s father. The narrator’s father had also seen Eri. According to the narrator’s father, Eri appeared clean and was always dressed in white. A rudraksha chain was around his neck. The house in which he lived was a hut, clean and mud-plastered. It was situated on the slope of the Kannambath temple. The narrator is confronted by some conflicting questions such as why his father would describe Eri wearing a white dress. The narrator concludes that Eri was a wise man and decided to investigate the history of North Kerala as a researcher of the evolution of language.
2. Does the text try to address the problems of Namboothiri women? How?
In the third section of the text, the character of Antharjanam appears. Invited by Antarjanam, Eri stands outside her house. Eri is confused as to why he is being invited to meet her outside the house. That was unusual. Antharjanam comes out of the house and speaks to Eri. She requests Eri to use magic to lure her out of her husband’s house. Her husband, who was sixty, passed away. She is only twenty years old and wants to experience more from life. However, as per the tradition of the Brahmin community, she would be forced to live inside the house without any contact with the world outside for the rest of her life. Such a context foregrounds the plight of the Brahmin women during the early twentieth century and earlier times in Kerala. The text imaginatively captures the scene and helps to spur a discussion on the discrimination of women in upper caste communities.
3. How does Eri question the practice of Pulapedi?
Pradeepan Pampirikkunnu uses the medium of the novel to establish the prehistory of the Parayan Caste. Pula/Parapedi is a ritual in which men of Pulaya, Paraya, and Mannan castes, the so-called ‘slave castes’, would roam around to defile upper-caste women who strayed alone outside their houses. In the third section of the text, we witness a scene that deconstructs the image of the Parayan propagated through rituals such as Pulapedi. Invited by Antarjanam, Eri stands outside of Antharjanam's house. Antharjanam comes out to meet Eri. Eri moves back from her in the fear of defiling her caste with his nearness. She tells him her story. She requests Eri to use magic to lure her out of her husband’s house. Her husband, who was sixty, passed away. She is only twenty-years old and wants to experience more from life. However, as per the tradition of the Brahmin community, she would be forced to live inside the house without any contact with the world outside for the rest of her life. Antharjanam implores Eri to help her in God’s name. However, Eri states that he lives his life with a sense of justice and God has no role in it. It can be seen that Eri does not accept the notion of an upper-caste god. He states that it is impossible to live together without love. The anguish suffered by the Parayan community is the reality of his home. He asks her forgiveness before leaving her there. This response from Eri is in stark contrast with the propaganda spread by the upper caste about the people of the downtrodden communities. Thus, the novel Eri questions the practice of Pulapedi.
4. What does the story mentioned in the beginning of the text tell about the character of Eri?
Eri, the character represents the historically downtrodden people in the Parayan community in Kerala. The story mentioned at the beginning of the text is about Chaliyan Raman confronting Eri. Chaliyan Raman was returning home after giving clothes in Kannur. It was night and he walked in the light of a choottu in his hand. When he reached Ancham Peedika, he saw someone sitting in the verandah of a tea stall, chewing betel. The person he encountered was robust in his build, short in stature, and resembled Buddha in his posture. Chaliyan Raman requested for a choottu as the one in his hand had already burned out. The stranger inquired where Chaliyan Raman wanted to go. When Raman told him that he wanted to go to Panniyur the stranger replied that there is no choottu. Instead, the stranger offered him the ability to find him a way to reach home. The stranger inquired if Raman had any issues coming nearer to the stranger. There was no way to know the caste of the person as it’s dark and Raman could not see the face of the stranger. The stranger applied a potion to Raman’s eyes and he was able to see in the dark. He walked a short distance and turned to look at the stranger. To his surprise, Chaliyan Raman could not see anyone there. When he reached home and saw the light of his house, his ability to see in the dark was lost. The next day, Raman learned that the stranger he met at Ancham Peedika was Parayan Eri. From this story, we learn that Eri is a mysterious figure. It is also evident that Eri does not care about the barrier of caste to help others.
5. Describe the parallel tradition of education that existed in Kurumbranad.
In Kurumbranad, a parallel system of education existed several years ago. In those days, some schools taught writing in the sand. There were Ezhuthassanmaar who travelled from one place to another and taught writing. They stayed in a place and taught Amaram (Amarakosham), Kavyam (Manipravalakavyangal), Enjuvadi, etc. to the children there. For the people of the Malaya caste, Mahabharatham was more important. The tales of Mahabharatham may be seen incorporated in their various traditional Prakkal, Theerkkal rituals like Ennamanthram, Tholuzhiya, etc. such a parallel tradition of education existed in Kurumbranad.