During my school days, one of my teachers, while talking about this book, said that after reading it, he was so mesmerized by the village of Khasak, the setting of the novel, that he got on a train to visit this place in Palakad. I wondered what could be so special about an ordinary sleepy village I Kerala. Today, after reading this book, I can understand why my teacher felt so.
Khasakinte Ithihasam begins with the arrival of Ravi, an undergraduate, who comes to set up a primary school in the village. Gradually, we see various stories of the village unfold.
Khasak and its inhabitants earn our hearts. The highlight of this book is not the plot, but the setting and the microcosm that the author builds. We come to know about the myths, sagas and superstitions of the village, its peculiar beliefs, the stories of the inhabitants…
There are many interesting details about the village. For example, It is believed that the forefathers of the people of Khasak were descendants of the 101 warriors who arrived in Khasak on flying horses at a time unknown. Then there is the tamarind tree that possesses the spirit of a lady who was betrayed and killed and any man who went near the tree at night wouldn’t come back alive. The people believe that the eyes of the dragonflies carry the soul of the village ancestors in their crystalline eyes.
The characters feel so genuine. Appukili, Maimoona, Chukru and Madhavannair, all of them have their own stories and miseries. This is what makes the book unique-it tells a multi-layered story. Magical realism is used in the narration, which is another specialty.
Khasak is real, so is its people. At some point, we may feel the book too slow-paced, but that is how such a multi-layered story can be narrated.