Sunday, October 14, 2007

When the Communists came marching in...

Olavipe. A Sunday morning in October 1950. My elder sister Mariamma was expecting her first child by November. The baby would be the first of the fifth generation at Thekkanattu Parayil. Those days women didn’t go to hospital for delivery. They depended on the local midwife and the elders. In this case, the doctor at Thycattussarry Government Hospital was also on the alert.

On the previous evening secret information came that the Communists planned a demonstration march by Comrades brought from other places, through the path in front of our eastern gatehouse. It was something that was unthinkable those days. Four years earlier there had been Communist led uprisings in two places, Vayalar and Punnappura, south of Olavipe. They were put down by the Maharaja’s army (see Morning After the Storm - concluding part.) and the Party was banned.

Then came India’s Independence and the Communists were back in action.

The Party had planned the timing of the march with great care. On Sunday mornings all of us would go to the family church across the lake and only the servants would be at home. In Appan’s absence it was unlikely that any one would dare to prevent the Communist procession. If Appan. had stayed back that by itself would have been considered a success for the Party. Well, Appan, Ammachi (Oru Desathinte Amma.) along with the other children went to church as usual but asked me to stay back in the house.

I was just 17 then, doing my first year of college. I was tense. The servants were huddled together in groups and whispering among them. But Mariamma seemed unconcerned. After a while I went to the eastern gatehouse and to my surprise, found the entire area full of men. Some were sitting on the pentagonal steps of the gatehouse, and others were leaning against coconut trees, or lying on the sand.

They were the people of Olavipe.

I went back inside because a senior supervisor told me that my presence there might make them uncomfortable. After a while the slogan shouting could be heard, faintly at first and louder as the jatha approached. The rest of the events were told to me later.

Instead of reaching the house by the usual route from the north, the Comrades took a detour and came from the south. Just three men, a Christian supervisor, an Ezhava and a Pulaya stopped the demonstrators on a causeway some distance from the house and asked them to go back. They increased the tempo of the slogan shouting but returned the way they came.

When a supervisor came to give me the good news, I told him to organize tender coconuts for our people. But there was no need. By the time I went to the gatehouse, they had left. That was one of the most touching moments of my life.

Francis (Alapatt) the baby boy Mariamma gave birth to is a grandfather today!


It was near the electric post that the march was stopped.
Photo: Copyright TP.

Ends.

4 comments:

Nebu said...

The CPM not only preaches Stalinism but practices it with brazenness by physical control and enforce by coercion by the all pervasive local committees. The ugly face of CPI (M) has to be exposed. Under the smooth veneer of progressivism lurks a brutal party dictatorship. Right from the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, violence and Communist movements have been inseparable; it has become a euphemism for the smug arrogance of a group that pompously declares that history is unflinchingly on its side.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Nebu, perhaps this is one of the reasons why Communism didn't last for even one century. What we see today are local variations of the same theme.

Ashvin said...

Lokamengum chavachu thuppiya oru outdated, dinosaur mentality innum nammude sakhaakkal sookshikkunnu. It is a pity that Kerala's progress has been held to ransom by such a group.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Ashvin, you are right. Kerala's development has been stunted by the Communists. They never learn. Last week there was 'samaram' again in Kuttanad against use of harvesting machines!