'Resilience', by A V Vijayan, opens into the vivid canvas of early years of pre-Independence era Kerala when nature was pristine and the rural life was robust and prime. Yet, it has captured all the turbulence in the socio-political milieu that had enveloped the region.
The life of Madhava Menon, the protagonist, through his early childhood, vibrant youth and romance and his dream journey to the land of Malaya and the events that unfold thereafter are the pivots on which the narrative swivel. Though the story progresses on a fictional hinge, the writer has carefully laced it with biographical elements.
Vijayan, a retired English professor of St Albert's College, Ernakulam, has keenly followed the diction to appropriately describe the otherwise complicated nuances which are strangely unique to Kerala. Tirur in Malappuram where the writer is born and brought up is said to have had an emphatic influence on the novel.
What is more striking about the short novel is its simplicity and innocence. Whether it is the childhood days or the proximity of the protagonist to nature or the budding romance, or even the journey where the saga winds up, the writer paints them all in a glorious shade that is at once romantic and classy.
The story makes several references to historical events like the Malabar rebellion, the two World Wars and so on giving ample room for readers to visualise the era and the backdrop of the novel. Madhava Menon's journey to Malaya to find a fortune, his engagement with the Second World War and Subhas Chandra Bose’s INA are vividly portrayed.
The story vaults from a life in the native soil of Malabar to a happening, busy life in Malaysia and back again after surviving the war and India's Independence and makes it a pulsating read. Occasional lunges to the real incidents and reference to real figures in history make the book more real.
Rising from the backyard of nature to zenith of activities in a distant land, falling to the depths of depression, swinging back again to life-filled, throbbing days, with the scientific farming as a paradigm to be bequeathed to the next generation, and finally retiring to a realm of redemption, life comes a full circle for Madhava Menon.
There, the the protagonist's stature, vis-vis-the events he has to wade through, identifies with the book's title and elevates it as an absorbing and inspiring tale.