Sunil Kumar, a lawyer by profession, is a native of Kerala. He built his career in banking. He is currently working with Standard Chartered, Singapore, but had a long stint in Mumbai. His devotional passion to literature and history produced creative works in Malayalam, a novel and short stories. The Gods, Demons and People of Kunhimangalam is his debut novel in English. He is married to Suma and has two sons, Bharat and Aryan.
Kunhimangalam, a picturesque village spread over four hundred square kilometers is in the northern part of Kannur district in the state of Kerala that formed a part of the erstwhile Malabar region of the Madras Presidency of the British Empire in India.
Kunhimangalam is bounded by the Ezhimala hills of the Sahya range on the east and by the river Perumba on west. The people are of Dravidian origin with dark or brown skin and thick, oily, black hair. But migrants of fairer looks are not rare. The village folk use Malayalam, the language of the greater Elamo-Dravidian family, having links with the lost dialects of Persia as well as Harappa.
The people of Kunhimangalam belong to different castes and sub-castes, a system of social order originally based on chosen vocation but later contorted to mere birth status. Slowly the likes and dislikes of a member of the caste lost significance as they were compelled to follow the vocation of the community of birth. Caste determined social status and conditions of life. In Kunhimangalam one could see a plethora of castes and caste divisions like Ashari, Mooshari, Vaniya, Chaliya, Thiya, Vannan, Mannan, Maniyani, Panicker etc. Each one has its own gods and goddesses, temples, Kavus and Kottams.
Geographically Kunhimangalam situates between latitude 11 degrees 51" N and longitude 75 degrees 22" E in the northern hemisphere. The tropical climate supports its rich evergreen vegetation. The monsoon rains of June to October fill the ponds and rivers, leaving a deluge of water even in the scorching summer months of April and May.
The nearby town Payyannur is famous in the anthology of the sagas of the Indian freedom struggle. Kunhimangalam at the south west of Payyannur is separated by the river Perumba. The swamps on the banks are the last of the surviving mangroves of Kerala. At the south of river Perumba lies Edattu through which passes National Highway No 17 from Bombay to Kochi. The place boasts of the presence of Payyannur College, the center of excellence in Kunhimangalam, and Kannangadu temple, the perch of the benign goddess of Maniyanis.
Main centres of Kunhimangalam include Vadakkumpad, Andamkovil, Thalai, Theru and Ezhilode. Undoubtedly the eminence is on account of tabernacles, institutions of commercial or industrial nature, public libraries or schools. The binnacle of the river named Changoorichhal provides the westerly boundary to Kunhimangalam. The name reminds us of the glorious past of the docking of big ships (Jhankar) in its waters from China and Arabia. Eastern and southern sides of Kunhimangalam are bounded by the village Cheruthazham. On the south-western side lies Puthiyapuzha, a river that separates Kunhimangalam from the valley of seven hills, Ezhimala. While Kunhimangalam is pierced by the National Highway in the north, the transgression in the south is done by the Shornur- Mangalore railway line.
Kunhimangalam is indeed a land of stories. Stories known and unknown, told and untold ... There are many in its treasure trove, it never ends, the stories are infinite...
In Kunhimangalam everyone and everything has stories... humans, animals, birds, trees and stones too. It comes out of the treasure chest one by one and multiplies on unwrapping. Stories around stories and tales within tales... The tradition of Indian storytelling has always remained so. The story of tangled myth and reality!
Yes that is "Life" - a combination of the past, present and future. Memory, life and dream coalesced into one! Losing the past, the memories of yesteryears lead one into oblivion. Forgetting the present is madness. And the future is nothing but dreams; the inability to dream makes a human an animal without vision. Myth originates from the wistful thoughts of the past and the dreams of the future. It is the flesh of life, while reality is a skeleton.
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