In the pages of “Pandavapuram,” the magnum opus crafted by the venerable Malayalam wordsmith, Sethumadhavan, known affectionately as Sethu, one encounters a profound exploration of contemporary attitudes toward the fervent passions that grace the feminine soul. This literary masterpiece delves into the transformative evolution of these perspectives, challenging the age-old stereotypes that once anthologized female obsessions as irrational and unstable. Sethu’s piece stands as a testament to the burgeoning recognition that ardent pursuits can indeed be wellsprings of empowerment, painting vivid portraits of both the masculine and feminine outlooks.

Sethu, the novelist, belongs to a highly innovative generation of literary artisans in the tapestry of Malayalam literature. Their efforts heralded a radical shift in sensibility during the early seventies. Privileged to peruse this narrative in its native Malayalam, subsequently translated to English by the accomplished bilingual author, Prema Jayakumar, one is struck by its modernist perspective, deftly preserving the cultural ethos through the medium of Malayalam. “Pandavapuram,” an indomitable classic in the Malayalam literary canon, unfolds in a locale where individuals congregate to shield orphaned girls. In this place, Bhagwati, swathed in crimson raiment, is venerated as a guardian against delusions, a sanctuary for brides. The narrative mirrors the contemporary evolution of attitudes toward the female fervor, urging women to embrace their passions as fonts of strength.

Sethu’s storytelling serves as a potent reminder that female obsessions can, indeed, be empowering. When women channel their ardor into the crucible of their aspirations, they have the power to shatter the constraints that bind and to inspire others, transcending the rigid boundaries of gender. The novel, with its perspicacious eye on the subject of obsession, offers a panoramic view, harmoniously weaving the threads of both masculine and feminine perspectives, where gender and passion intersect. “Pandavapuram” beckons the reader to engage in contemplation, fostering a more comprehensive and empathetic understanding of the enigmatic realm of obsession.

Sethu’s literary contributions to the Malayalam sphere, epitomized by “Pandavapuram,” continue to shape the discourse on passion and obsession in the modern epoch. In recognition of his profound impact, he was conferred the highest literary honor by the Kerala Sahitya Akademi in the year 2022. His illustrious literary career has been adorned with a constellation of accolades, including the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Awards, and the prestigious Vayalar Award. – WILLIAMSJI MAVELI

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