Tuesday, June 04, 2013

M.P. Bhattathirippad's "Rithumathi" -1952

Today at lunch, amma was recounting to me about M.P. Bhattathrippad's (Premji) play: 

"*Ruthumathi". She embellished her narration with the typical "Namboothiri bhasha". 

I was appalled at the plight of the girl child of those times. Thank God it had a happy ending. A very 

poignant story that haunts you for a long time after. 

Am I glad to have been born in today's era...

Below is an excerpt from :


Similarly, Premji‟s Ritumati was a well-written work as a prose drama.
This is the story of Devaki, an orphaned Namboothiri girl, who initially stays with 

her comparatively  progressive maternal uncle who provides her with education ( 

otherwise not prescribed to a namboothiri girl).

But after attaining puberty, her education is discontinued and she is forcibly taken 

to her paternal  family. There, she‟s ordered to take off her blouse as per custom 

and change into a mere piece of cloth. On her refusal to do so, Kizhakeprathe 

Apphan Namboothiri tortures her by hiding her clothes and continuously abusing 


Devaki, thus transforms into the face of resistance in this drama as she adamantly 

refuses to change her outfit for many months at length. Though branded as a 

mentally unstable woman by family and society ( for merely voicing her desire and 

dissent),she‟s betrothed to someone without  her consent.

On the marriage day, her cousin Kuttan and her friend Vasudevan concede to her 

desperate plea to rescue her from this confining atrocity. The protagonists Devaki 

and Vasudevan succeed in the fight against their wretched life inside the 

Namboothiri community. Unlike the three earlier plays mentioned initially, Ritumati 

stands as an unflinching testimony to progressive drama. The protagonist is not 

conveniently evicted from the plot ( as in Marakkudakkullile Mahanarakam, Savitri 

Athava Vidhawa Vivaham and Adukkalayil Ninnu Arangathekku) in order to 

maintain social  normalcy‟.

The epigraph to the play:

Ritumatiyaayoru penkidaavennagi

-lathu mathi njayamn padippu nirtan.

Avallenum pinneyadukkalathannuli-

lavashamirrunnu narachidenam;kudayeduthidenam, 

kuppayamooranam-kudilasamudayaneethi nokku!

( It is all puberty that takes to discontinue a girl ‟s education/ 

from then on, she‟ll remain and rot within the walls of her kitchen/ 

A customary veil and the custom of removing her blouse is what the cruel society demands off her)

(* Rithumathi : Girl who has attained puberty)

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( pic courtesy: http://static2.bigstockphoto.com/thumbs/9/9/3/small2/39905602.jpg)