Rishi MoolamIndian Writing
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The eeriness of Jayakanthan’s two novellas in this volume is overwhelming and disturbing. The protagonists are helpless victims of psychological maladies. Their suppressed libido and Oedipus complex are areas Tamil writers generally dared not enter – at any rate in the 1960s, when they were written.The brilliant introvert Rajaraman is the quintessential good boy. The play of circumstances kindles oedipal fancies in him. The incandescent consummation with Sarada Mami is a catharsis. A rishi is born looking at the world with a disdain at once benignly distant and compellingly personal.Well-educated and well-employed Janaki lives under the protective cover of her paranoid, possessive, puritanical mother. Her healthy friendship with a collegemate of yesteryear promises liberation. Her short-lived taste of freedom is stamped out and she is sucked back into her mother’s bizarre, overwhelming orbit. The success of Jayakanthan lies in evoking in the reader a profound empathy with the tragically deviant characters of the two stories.