Balyakala Sakhi by Vaikkom Muhammed Basheer

Majeed and Suhara are neighbours. The nine year old Majeed, the  son of a rich timber merchant and Suhara,the  daughter of a poor arecanut seller are also  bitterest of rivals.

Majeed’s attempts at impressing  Suhara fail as the feisty little girl retorts to every taunt of his with equal gusto. Its only the ripe mangoes that tempt Suhara. Its only Majeed’s ability to climb the mango tree that impress her.

One day Majeed climbed the tree braving ant bites and scratches to tease Suhara with his prize catch of  juicy ripe mangoes. Holding them in hand, he  walked away slowly, loudly anticipating  the pleasure of  tasting of those juicy ripe mangoes and Suhara watched him silently, her eyes brimming with tears. All of a sudden ,Majeed turned back ,walked to Suhara and handed over his the mangoes to her.

uhara was surprised. She was more than touched by Majeed’s sacrifice and the nobility. She immediately made up by extending a hand of friendship. What started as a friendly and light-hearted banter and fights over ripe mangoes and building castles in the mud, turned into heated love as the youngsters grew up.

In the local school they went to, Suhara was the smart student and Majeed ,an idiot. The friendship however turned a new leaf in Majeed’s student life. He was able to solve all the sums and was always the first to finish a given task. Majeed’s teachers expressed surprise at this unexpected turnaround as Suhara smiled  to herself.

Majeed’s father ensured that his son got  the best in education and sent him to a city school for higher studies  even though the boy’s neglect towards sharing responsibilities at home or at the farm often irked him. This often caused friction at home.

After her father’s sudden death, there was no way that Suhara  could get a chance to go to school again. She was disappointed.Majeed proposed that his family could help Suhara go to school. Though his mother was impressed by his thoughtful suggestion,his  father found the idea laughable.

One day Majeed was beaten black and blue for negligence of his duties by his father .He was thrown out of the house  and was asked to get some experience of the world and the real life in it.

It was dark and he had not a single penny in his pocket, nor courage nor experience but Majeed set out of his house on his own. He wandered from place to place observing life,doing odd jobs and  was away for almost 7-8 years. During this time  he never thought of making money , all he was interested in was experiencing life.

In the mean while, Suhara was married off to a butcher  by her mother who had two more girls to look after.

When Majeed returned after his long sojourn, he was heart broken to know about Suhara’s marriage.

His own family too was in dire straits after a reversal of fortunes.His father was old and  his sisters were grown up. The family had lost its wealth and status  in the society. His mother rested her hopes on him to arrange suitable alliances for his sisters.

Suhara heard about Majeed’s return and came to stay with her mother. She spent most of her time at Majeed’s  house, setting off a few tongues in the village wagging. When questioned by some, she replied that she was treated like a servant by her husband and that her absence would make no difference to him.

Life  continued  until  one day, Majeed’s mother  was informed by a wandering saint about rich muslims in other cities who would do anything to help their fellow brethren. She insisted that her son should try appealing to their kindness. Once again ,Majeed set out on a long ardous journey into the unknown and Suhara promised to take care of his family till his return.

Though he was not successful in getting any riches ,Majeed did find a job, a small one . He hoped to return home, marry Suhara and be able to send off his sisters to good families in marriage as a responsible elder brother.

It was a Monday and Majeed was riding his bicycle on an office errand when he fell down a steep slope and was badly hurt. He lay in the hospital for days together. When he woke up he noticed that the lower part of his body was heavily bandaged. His left leg had been amputated.

Majeed had no courage to go back to his home.He tried seeking help from a rich muslim, Khan Bahadur. But something,stopped  Majeed from accepting the money he received as alms. He handed  over the money to the servant who had brought it for him.

He found a menial job in  a local hotel for himself.A letter from his mother informed Majeed of Suhara’s sudden death. His mother requested him to come home to save the family  from impending homelessness.The story ends with Majeed trying to understand what Suhara wanted to tell him when they parted.

In an introduction to the novel,Professor M.P Paul cautions the  chicken-hearted readers  who are nauseated by the sight of blood to stay away from attempting to read the story. It is a page torn off from real life, its are edges tinted with blood, he warns.The advice holds good as the reader is heart broken at the tragic turn of events in Majeed’s life. Vaikkom Muhammed Basheer is known as the Sultan of Beypore.Balyakalasakhi meaning a child hood friend is a realistic reflection of the life of a common man in Kerala. Basheer portrays the beautiful childhood friendship of Majeed and Suhara,its metamorphosis into tender love for each other and its tragic end great finesse and tenderness.

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