No poem perhaps touches the Malayali psyche as profoundly as 'Mambazham'. The pensive mournfulness of Vyloppilli Sreedhara Menon's 1936 poem continues to evoke such grief and longing even today.
Mambazham tells the tale of a mother mourning her son. As the mother sees ripe mangoes on a tree, she weeps. She reminisces scolding her child for plucking the mango flower buds four months ago.
The little one had frowned and said he wouldn't come to pluck the mangoes. The prophecy of the tender soul came true and he died before the flower turned into fruit.
The bereaved mother then sings her sorrow as neighbours' kids enjoyed the nectar on a blissful summer day. In the end, she picked a fruit and offered it to her son, where he had been buried. At that point, the child's soul embraced her as a cool breeze.
Now, after 87 years since Vyloppilli penned his magnum opus, 'Mambazham' gets a fitting tribute at its birthplace -- Government Higher Secondary School, Mulanthuruthy near Ernakulam.
It is the same school where Vyloppilli was once a teacher. There under a mango tree that stands to this day, Vyloppilli visualised 'Mambazham', a poem that is taught in schools even now.
The mother and the child, whom she mourns -- whose story 'Mambazham' depicts -- have been immortalised in the courtyard of the school.
A majestic sculpture of the mother and child crafted by Sivadas Idakkattuvayal is ready for inauguration. Besides, a bust of the poet, Vyloppilli and the various stages of the 'Mambazham' story, crafted on the base of the century-old mango tree, will be unveiled on Wednesday.
"This was a long-time dream," says Ullas G, principal of the school.
"Vyloppilli practically lived at the school when he was a teacher here. The mango tree still stands but there was nothing else for the present generation to know this is where Mambazham was born," says Ullas.
After he became the principal of the school two years ago, Ullas and fellow teachers submitted a proposal to the district panchayat, expressing their desire to immortalise the poem.
The fruit of their persistence will now live under the shade of the evergreen tree that inspired Vyloppilli. "Now students can experience the poem that they learn from the textbook," Ullas said.