Agnayam (The Fire)

Nangema rose out of the dilapidated inheritance and social taboos as a woman, a widow, with a bay boy and an elder girl to bring up with in the narrow territories of womanhood, of a Brahmin patriarchic family is the centre and strength of the family. She asked herself, die or survive. Survive she should, for her bay boy should grow and continue the hierarchy. She took only a dress to change, tied up whatsoever she could save out of the mere existence, and left the small children with her old mother at home and took his younger brother a weakling of a male support to accompany her to the remote forest beyond the Western Ghats in search of her eldest sister who had been married off to an old many years back. Nangema should find out her in the remote farm where the sister was leading a better life. After traversing the Ghats, the thick tropical forests where wild animals were the real inhabitance. The home she sought situated in a secluded village.

She started her new life as a helper in her sister’s house and did vending at the gate of the feudal house and met the farm labourers, the tribes, men and women who were surprised at the lady oh the higher class doing such trivial work of selling coriander, tobacco chilly dried fish and rice betel leaves areca nut salt and other cheap quality things in scanty measures thus earning little money to be sent to her children and mother at home. She strived in the lavish house hold of her sister and found out a small sum to purchase a slot of land to cultivate her own empire

slowly, stealthily, presently working hard with a will. Thus Nangema the Brahmin widow built up her landed property in the heart of the forest land, sometimes escaping a wild elephant or a bear, a flock of bison, a kicking away antelope or any other wild beasts which she met on her return from her land sometimes followed by a helper or all alone after the dusk alone the edge of the still darkened forest. She sent her son to college and married of her young daughter to a government servant, a much coveted event in such a time.
She sacrificed her youth and womanhood, even a budding love for the sake of the children with such avidity that men of the village looked at her with awe. Then her young son became a Nuxalite. He did not come home to the land or to the new wooden bungalow, had she built for his family. He did not wait for such formalities and left for good, and was arrested and locked up in jail for doing” anti-social”activities. Nangema waited and waited but the son was sentenced for imprisoned. Once she visited him with heavy heart and returned to her native village an utter desperate woman. She is the strength of feminine will personified. In the background one could touch the changes happening to a poverty stricken people of a forest village and see the hero, Poulose who sacrificed his life for great cause to salvage the down trodden. The revolutionary theme set up in a rustic back ground with a heroine still more revolutionary in her own way is a food for thought.
“The language is poetic, the vivid conversations, the virgin verbal pictures, and the beautiful narration make has blessed Vatsala’s work.” G.Vivekanandan, the novelist says.
“The fire in Nangema is enough to burn all the pulp made by others to disgrace the female life. Born out of the fire of a religious battle and again thrown into another fire {of Nuxalism} Agneyam begets the brightness of an epic tragedy” Dr. M. Leelavthy the famous critic