For the twenty years I who read his(Kuttettan) editorial notes and advice to budding writers in the Children's Section (Baala-Pankthi) of Mathrubhumi magazine and having met him under a tree along with other students at school, felt the irrevocable loss of his long shadow. It's not just the charm of old world that is lost; I believe it is more than that. I doubt if we can ever find such fine folks anymore who can clear the gloom and guide your spirit to all that is worthy of life and living.
He was a short man. His poems were short. It took the world quite a while to read through the silly word play in his poems to understand the genius. The big and tall truths in small and short words, the nimble sketches of native life in Kerala and the gentle social and political satire have found their way through his poems which bordered on absurdism thematically and a distant similarity on Haiku in style. It is impossible to translate his poems since he used the oral and traditional words and expressions quite liberally. Once taken out of context, they simply wither away. You would feel like you have uprooted a healthy tree. However here is a sample, with due apologies to maash:
"Read or not
You will grow up.
You will reap
If you do,
You will trip
If you don't"
- as an ardent campaigner for library and reading, he has words of wisdom for children and adults.
"I am kunhunni.
My mother? Narayani.
Grand mother? Parukkutti.
Grand mother's mother?
That is the limit of my grasp."
- reveals his humble self even though he is a scholar in Malayalam literature and linguistics besides an accomplished teacher.
"My son must learn English
from the moment he is born.
Hence I had my wife
deliver in England"
- a taunt on the craze of English that began to threaten the existence of Malayalam.
I wish all my readers know how to read Malayalam so that Kunhunni maash could unveil the verdant language and the sprightly spirit of rural Kerala.
He called himself children's poet. There had been numerous child prodigies he nurtured through his writings and otherwise. He traveled for a long time campaigning for the need of libraries and literary activities. The throngs of children visiting his house and playing in the yard must have recognized maash and hopefully one of them would go on to lead his kindly light.
Note: maash is the endearing way of addressing a (school) Teacher.