Analysing the Malayalam short story “Vishwavikhkhyaathamaaya Mookku” by V.M Basheer
Sneha Susan John
A perfect story that defines the Malayalam society with its political and controversial happenings is the “Vishwavikhkhyaathamaaya Mookku” written by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer. His story was simple but, any person understanding his stories would immediately figure out the sharp images and details that he pictures in their minds. The English translation of this story is called “The World Renowned Nose” which could not carry the crux of the Malayalam piece of work .This satiric tale is characteristically a humorous reality of the inconsistent society. In addition to understanding the social and political context of his writings, Basheer also possessed a deep historical intuition about the spirit of the land. This story talks about a humble man ‘Mookken’ who experiences fortunes and fame because of his nose which suddenly grew to an uneven length in his twenty-fourth year. As the story proceeds we see the subsequent events that happen because of his uniquely shaped nose. Though the story deals with the long nose, the focus is on the society and their response to the situation. Through his detailed use of sarcasm and humour, Basheer targets the society that has always been involved with corrupt politics and controversies. Basher introduces them to the text, making them read their very own behaviour. He breaks the rationale and logical boundaries creating an unrealistic story yet projecting the realities and behaviours of the society.
The ‘true’ story- The poor cook becomes a millionare is what the plot deals with. Basher begins by calling it a true story, where he points out to the truth lying beneath the fictional story. The story begins with the man whose nose grows too long beyond the ordinary. He is soon thrown out of his job because he is not accepted by the people. People around the world come to observe his nose to which his mother and he respond exasperated. No one cared about his life or his wellbeing; they just wanted to entertain themselves by making him a show piece in the society. Mookken soon becomes rich when people began to offer him bribes to watch his nose. This made him famous and soon the most influenced person of the society. There were television crews, photographers, interviewers, and tourists who had come to watch him. Few Political parties supported him and others opposed his fame and power. His every word influenced the media and thereby the society. He commented on the different happenings of the society and his opinions were called out loud, books were written about him, epic poems were written about his qualities, he acted in movies and performed numerous tasks to please the people. In no time, he was awarded by the government for being ‘the long nose one’ to the society. In spite of all the drama he was made the leader of the people’s struggle. On the other hand, the opposite parties claimed him to have a fake nose and the conflicts and influence on the long nosed one went on and on. He won fame and adoration, nothing of what he was worth. Beneath this story, he points out at the truth being the foolishness and irrational societal behaviour of the community.
The story ends by Basheer questioning the masses on how foolishness has been perpetuated and how thought has been confused. He also sympathises with the poor intellects that follow the influenced ones to gain recognition. He brings to limelight people who have not done much in the society but have been smart enough to take advantage of the society’s foolishness.
Popularity and controversies is what ruins the Indian society. Whatever is popular usually leads to controversies. To gain popularity the lead character gave into the huge corrupted practice of bribery. The whole political conflicts were created when he begins to act pricy about his nose. We realise that the credit given to the worthless news came with the cost he attached to it. He was considered nothing in the busy society till the moment he realised that he can charge people for their foolish interest in his long nose. In no time, he became the centre of attraction and slowly the man with the opinions. Everybody has opinions but his was regarded the final word. As the story proceeds, we notice a shift from humour to a very powerful message. Basher uses satire to tell his readers that people do not think before their actions. They are considered to be unwise and their life revolves around a lot of unnecessary events and opinions of the popular. Their inconsistent nature and failure to have their own opinions is brought out rightfully by the author. The man’s nose has made the whole society react and behave in accordance with him, but there was a time when they did not care about his existence. The different political parties, the activists, the government did everything to please him, though his contributions were nothing except for his bizarrely long nose.
. Basher constantly reminds the society the stupidity they have become a part of. The activists, the government and the entire society are a prey to views given by few who have begun to showcase their selves as the worthy ones. The message that the writer brings out here, is to stop hearing voices of foolishness, rather react wisely to situations that happen in the public. The author thereby tries to bring out the opinions and influences of people that he observes around him. The poor cook who had no way of living took advantage of the foolish society. By the end of the story we realise why the author calls the story, true. He means the behavioural pattern of people are truly depicted and not the literal characters.
Writing and style of Basher has been celebrated by readers among the communities of Kerala. For Basheer, writing was the means to relate and communicate. Through his style he transports his readers to the society where they belong, and forces them to think. Through his use of language, he explores the psychology of man. He used the tone of language itself to enhance his message. His writing do not fall under conventional Malayalam writings, instead he uses language to evoke his very community. The sense of reality creeps through this humorous narrative. Through this imaginary tale he pushes the actual message that lies beneath the literal text. The language Basheer employs is quite colloquial, that the English translation of the work does not carry the same essence. Half way through, the readers begin to read their lives between the lines. The translation of the work was not an easy task as it was quite impossible to convey the same message in a spirit that’s not its own.
Basheer says that the society we live in has made a big deal of a pointless situation. His use of Witt, sarcasm and brevity brings in more meaning, thereby creating depth to the story. His method of writing makes the readers think and judge themselves. This story relates to our everyday lives, to the life of the society and its politics that has been built on people’s opinions and controversies.