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Kummatti by Kavalam Narayana Panikker and Published By National Book Trust

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This Children’s book is the story of a magician ( sorcerer) who comes every year from the mountains to a village on the plains. This is narrated through a toothless grandmother who wanted to instill fear in the children by telling the story of Kummatti. But they sang the story under the leadership of CHINDAN and played on the temple ground and slope of the mountains. it is a poetic fairy tale of what goes through the mind of a child. They are drawn to the charms, music, and laughter of the strange man and get befriended.

KALLU is the sister of CHINDAN and one day to their surprise they saw the KUMMATTI coming from the mountains. He came with a lengthy pole on his shoulder and two bundles at the end of the stick. in one, there were face masks of animals and birds, and at the other sweetmeats. He had also a MAGIC WAND (STICK) WITH BELLS by which he can convert the children into animals.

The children were hesitant to interact with him. but by entreaties, he made them friends. They had fun together and when the KUMMATTI wanted to go back to his place, they requested him not to leave them. Then to pacify the children, he distributed face masks to all children and started singing.ALL the children were converted into animals and birds according to the mask wore by them.

CHINDAN was converted into a dog and in the melee strayed into the forest without remembering anything. KUMMATTI and other children did not notice this and when the children were reconverted into their original form CHINDAN was missing. So Chindan had to continue as a dog, He was wandering throughout the night and slept somewhere.

When CHINDAN woke up, he was on the lap of DOLLY a little girl.DOLLY liked him but her father was not ready to keep the stray country dog as a pet. They had already three high-bred dogs in their house. The father, at last, agreed to the proposal of his daughter to keep the dog. Thus he was captivated. Days passed on. CHINDAN’S parents, sister, and friends were missing him very badly.

Once in a dream KUMMATTI came and scolded CHINDAN for forgetting his parents and friends. He was struck with sorrow and stopped eating and became sick. No medical treatment was able to make him healthy. HIS MOANING in the night became a nuisance to DOLLY’S father and he let him loose without his daughter’s knowledge.CHINDAN ran and reached his home. Except for the parrot in the cage at his home, no one recognized him. The caged parrot called him by name. Chindan was allowed to sleep near his sister KALLU. The next day KUMMATTI came to their place and by his magic want reversed him to his original form. And dis appeared from the scene.

The first thing CHINDAN did after getting his original form was to free the caged parrot. There are about six to seven songs in the book. The message imparted is of universal love, unfettered freedom, kindness, etc.

G.ARAVINDAN has made his award-winning children’s film KUMMATTI based on this story. It was in the year 1979.

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