On The Banks Of The Mayyazhi by M. Mukundan

Mayyazhi river, Mahé, Puducherry

We are so used to stories and historical accords of European colonization and the atrocities they inflict upon the natives. Well, this book says the story of now union territory Mahé, which was previously a French colony and an ace example of communal harmony and cultural assimilation post colonization. French settled here along with the natives, getting mixed with culture and believes, raising their generations. It’s really interesting and refreshing to read on life at Mahé, in its innocence and ignorance, where kids grow up hearing stories of Indian mythology and Joan of Arc. Also stories of the times where, religion language and ethnicity barely made any difference in day to day life.

Author has done an excellent job in conveying the essence in right amount of words, giving stories about various factions of Mayyazhi, on Mahé being home for them. Then followed the local helplessness on rebellion since they have been seeing and living along with French for generations as friends and family.
“Where will the white people go, this is their home too.”
It gets pretty visceral by the end, with accords of old people waiting for French ships with the hope of seeing their friends for one final time, the mental struggle within some locals on choosing whether to move to France or stay in Mahé..

Gotta admire the author for putting together all these aspects in and around the love story of a rebel torn between his future, ideology and family, pulling us through the moral confusion with side tracks of ancient stories of the soil. Prose was a little difficult, thanks to accented conversations and french names.

Would have given 4 stars if the book had ended before last two chapters, something I have an issue with many books contemporary to this one.



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