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The Book of Mothers: P K Medini

P K MEDINI still recollects the day when she first sang for the election campaign of the Communist party. Now, six decades later, the spirit isn’t one bit lost for the veteran singer. Medini, 78, says she sang first for Communist leader T V Thomas. Since then, she had been a regular presence at the election campaigns of the Communist party.”  From expressbuzz April 1, 2011

Delhi-based journalist JACOB SEBASTIAN sent us his translation of a piece by PK Medini in Malayalam (published in the journal Mathrubhumi earlier this month ), along with a background note that he wrote for our readers.

The following piece was written by P.K. Medini, the one-time ‘singing sensation’ of the Communist Party in Kerala. It originally appeared in the Matrubhumi Weekly, as part of a series where people talk about their favourite books. It offers a glimpse of a time and place where literature and books and the whole culture of reading, mattered in an urgent and vital way.

She gives us an intimate snapshot of the new reading culture at the time when it was putting down its first tentative roots. For someone who readily admits that her own reading was ‘impoverished’, she shows a keen awareness of the power of ideas – and of books as objects of an almost talismanic power – andreveals their absolute centrality to the social and political transformations of the time.

If such a thing is unimaginable to us today, even more unexpected are the ways in which it actually played out – the many tortuous routes the word had to take before it could become flesh (she calls it ‘social reading’). She also has a sharp eye for how political propaganda actually works ‘on the ground’. Along with other movements, Medini’s party too can take some credit for the fact that life in Kerala isn’t so desperate today that a society could catch fire from a book.

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