Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Vaikom Muhammad Basheer
Vaikom Muhammad Basheer (21 January 1908 – 5 July 1994) was a Malayalam fiction writer. He was a humanist, freedom fighter, novelist and short story writer. He is noted for the pathbreaking, disarmingly down-to-earth style of writing that won both literary critics as well as the common man. He is regarded as India's one of the most successful and outstanding writers. Translations of many of his works into other languages has won him worldwide acclaim. His notable works include Baalyakaalasakhi, Shabdangal, Paaththummaayude Aadu, Mathilukal, Ntuppuppaakkoraanaendaarnnu and Anarga Nimisham. He was awarded the Padma Sri in 1982. He is fondly remembered as the Beypore Sultan.
Basheer, born in the village of Thalayolapparampu in northern Travancore, was the eldest child of devout Muslim parents. His father was in the timber business as a contractor, but the business did not do well enough for his large family to live in anything approaching luxury. After beginning his education at the local Malayalam medium school, he was sent to the English medium school in Vaikom, five miles away. While at school he fell under the spell of Mahatma Gandhi. He started wearing Khadar, inspired by the swadesi ideals. When Gandhi came to Vaikom to participate in the Vaikom Satyagraham (1924) Basheer went to see him. He managed to climb on to the car in which Gandhi travelled and touch his hand, a fond memory Basheer later mentioned in many of his writings. He used to visit Gandhi's Satyagraha Ashram at Vaikom daily. He got punished for going late to school due to this.