Kunjan’s anthology of 25 poems, ‘Split-Self’ creates a world within a world with words.

The pantheon of Indo-Anglian poets from Kerala has the latest addition, Kunjan (Sunitha Murali) who made her presence felt recently by releasing an anthology of 25 poems. Commendably, Split-Self showcases her passionate love for language as also her fertile imagination. The leitmotifs of her compositions cover a wide spectrum of events noteworthy for their contemporaneity, apart from the reinterpretation of mythological and legendary characters pregnant with philosophical overtones.

As she avers in the preface, the collection is “A humble endeavour to cross the Ocean of Oblivion”, arising from the desire, “There should be some signature left somewhere”.

From the first one, ‘Spring blooms in heart’ to the last, ‘Memories never die’, the reader traverses through the lives of many characters and different worlds, real and ethereal, but the intrinsic message is celebration of human life and every moment of it for that matter. The line “Life is just once….live it to its fullest”, is a reminder of the ephemerality of human life.

Many are the pieces that focus on women in multiple roles. Kunjan becomes a fury while describing the cruelty meted out to women. ‘For the Fearless’, ‘Sobbing Violets” and ‘Wailing Walayar’ are quintessential. Her unfathomable rage manifests in the composition on Nirbhaya, the hapless girl of Kathua and the ill-fated murder of the three girls at Walayar, respectively in the above compositions. The refrain in the one on Nirbhaya “Will the execution give her life back”, is a dig at the society for its callous indifference to such heinous crimes. But she waxes eloquent on a ruthless mother in ‘Mummy’. Narration of the challenges of a working woman (Choice) is picturesque.

Book details:
By Kunjan (Sunitha Murali)
80 pages; Rs 105
Green Books
Publishing date: 31 July 2020

Interpretations of mythical characters like Aswathama (Chiranjivi) and Hidimbi (From Demoness to Deity) smack of her inventive brilliance to plough a lonely furrow. She points out the paradoxical dispensation of the two by explaining how the former, a re-incarnation of Rudra, is worshipped in the same temple of Vishnu at Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, while the latter who, a wife forsaken by Bhima and wandered as a waif, is worshipped as Hidimba Deva in Bhutan. While these two are long compared to other ones, ‘Osho’ is also lengthy. The poem concludes with his self-realization, “Now I have become the real Osho, one who has known himself”. ‘Why did you leave so early’ is an expression of personal loss and has traits of an elegy. ‘The Ghost’s Lament’ is not an expression of grief for being a soul, but a celebration of liberty from the bondage of the body!

Satan’s dream of creating a world of “Satans dancing around God’s funeral pyre” reminds one of Debate The Pandemonium (in John Milton’s Paradise Lost). Split-Self tries to bring back the memories that never die and relive them. For, “Past is not past/Past is part of heart”.

Kunjan writes in short lines noted for their simplicity. They are intelligible to any reader, but they trigger your imagination when you realize that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Her punctuations and capitalization of select words are esoteric but they convey a lot. The captions of each are catching. The front cover of the book by Shahzad epitomizes the gist of the contents.

A native of Ottappalam, Kunjan is an Assistant Professor of English in Government Arts and Science College, Pathirippala in Palakkad district.


GS Paul is an eminent art columnist and critic. He has been writing for national dailies such as The Hindu for more than three decades. Currently, he is the Editorial Advisor of India Art Review.

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