MT Vasudevan Nair
“Bear with me, mother” is a collection of memoirs and short stories from arguably the finest writer that Kerala has ever produced – MT Vasudevan Nair. The book has 16 memoir pieces and half that number of stories.
Though its against the flow of the book, it might be a good idea to read the stories before the memoirs. This is because many of the stories have a touch of autobiography/ reality in them, and it might take away a little from the stories of you read them second.
The memoirs work amazingly well because it takes the reader back in time. Even for a Keralite like me, it seemed like a different culture. Temple festivals replete with folk arts, ten days of Onam celebrations, communities which hadn’t split into religion based factions all point to a Kerala that was markedly different, and this was only a few decades back. The change is visible in geography too, as the author agonises over the fate that befell the Nila river.
The author walks the journey of his life with us, with anecdotes from his school and college life as well as his early working days. In them, we can see many characters that made it to his fictional works too.
The stories offer excellent glimpses of the author’s craft, and works like ‘The Soul of Darkness’ will stay with you for a long time. In yet others like ‘Firecrackers’, ‘Karkitakam’, and ‘Elder Sister: Oppol’ we see the world through the eyes of an innocent child. It is amazing how even in the translation, I could imagine what the original Malayalam words must have been and marvel at the wordcraft.