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21 Feb

Matsyaganddhi: M Sujatha

“M.Sujatha’s “Matsyaganddhi” is delightful monodrama which focuses on the lives of the fisherwomen in coastal Kerala. She speaks about many of the concerns of her community. Globalization has really changed their life. She presents very moving and very familiar scenes to depict her concern. The fisherwomen are victims of exploitation.The drama has in it sublime moments and scenes from ordinary lives of the fisherwomen.

                 The scene is seashore where sea itself forms the audience. Thus she imparts an idea of the loneliness of the fisherwoman. A middle aged araya woman speaks in a dream like frenzy. She highlights the glories surrounding her .She listens to the rhythm of the sea and thinks of herself as a mermaid. She can see a giant ship and many more .Little baby fishes are terrified.

                 Then he comes back to the real     life. Her husband is a fisherman .She waits for his coming. Chemmeen tells that if the mukkuvas are to be protected by kadalamma, the sea mother, their women have to remain chaste and faithful. She cannot stay back in her hut because she is waiting for food .She tells that only a skillful fisherman can know where to find fish. They need to know the position of the stars and also about nets and the ways to catch fish. It is lovely to be watching someone fishing in a boat. Her husband was very good at fishing .When he came home he had the smell of fish and arrack.

                 After giving instructions to Molay her daughter she leaves for the harbour. She has a very tough life . She has to argue with the fish trader. She is worried about the interest she has to pay for the loan she has taken to buy the fish. When she gets down from the bus with the fish, people turn away in disgust. They feel the stench. Everyone dislikes fish but once it is cooked it is delicious. She tries to get into a bus but they go by without stopping. If she doesn’t reach the market in time the puffed up males will take    her place. They wear polyester shirts, spray themselves with perfumes and go around in vehicles. Those sons of bitches sell fish cheap also. 

                 She contrasts the life of the fisher woman with that of the rich .They have swimming pools, water parks and rain dance. However the tap in the fish market does not provide a drop of water. All the fisher woman smell of fish and cannot clean themselves. They do not have clean water to drink also. She goes on to narrate the story of Satyavati the Matsyaganddhi .She used to take people across the river in her little boat. One day a muni got interested in her because she smelt of fish .He took her in the boat and created a cover for the boat with thin blue mist

                 She narrates how at one time the people on the sea coast lived a very comfortable life. They had plenty of fish. They had enough money to buy what they wanted .It was then that motor boats and trawlers came to disrupt their life. She does not think that Kerala is any more God’s own country. It is the land of the exploited and the exploiters. The government has taken over the sea coast. They will build new harbours claiming to give jobs to many. They will also build new hotels and walls between the sea and the coast.

                 She is angry that her husband’s boat was hit by the trawler boat.( He went for fishing on a clear day. His men had checked everything. Her husband once held the sea on the palm of his hands. He paddled the boat and fished in tune with the season, in tune with the rhythm of the sea. However he went down into the depths of the sea after his boat was hit.) Trawlers destroy the little fishes .They say kadalamma will be angry if a mukkuva woman stands on the shore with her hair unloosened. She wants to be such a one so that kadalamma gets angry and the waves break up all the trawler boats and foreign vessels. Then there will be no more the stench of fish but only the stench of the decaying sea. Then there will be the smell of little fish slaughtered. It will be the stench of the decaying dreams of Matsyaganddhi,

                 Sajitha has skillfully woven familiar incidents into the text of the play .She points her fingers at the rotten system which does not care about the exploitations and discriminations.

           B.1.Chemmen tells us that if the mukkuvas who go out to the sea are to be protected by kadalamma, the Sea Mother, their woman have to remain chaste and faithful.

           2. God’s own Country is going to be a land of the exploited and the land of the exploiters. There will be man-made walls   and man-made harbours and man- made trawlers.

           3. She has hope in the Matsyaganddhi because it reminds her of the time when sea was full of fish and fisher men were happy. Kadalamma protected her children and they had plenty to eat.

            4. The kadalamma will be angry if a woman stood with her hair untied and unloosened.

Prof Pius Ozhakal

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