Adukalayil Ninnu Arangatteku
Browsing through the various literary works of the 20th century, one would come across many books that were known for their rich language and content. But fewer works went one step ahead from mere story narration and prompted people to introspect their own lives and the society as a whole.
One such drama penned by the social reformist, VT Bhathattiripad, was the exemplary Adukalayil Ninnu Arangatteku. Staged for the first time in 1929, the drama urged people to break away from obsolete practices and move on with the changing times.
Like what the title suggests, ‘From the kitchen on to the stage’, the drama talks about the need for women to leave their place in the kitchen and take active part in the social and political worlds. The drama unveils the life at a tharavaradu run entirely following the traditions and norms of those days. However, caught inside this household is a young Madhavan and his love interest Thethikutty, who have to fight these customs to lead a life together.
The young Thethikutty notices the sudden spurge of activities around her. New ornaments are ordered, Kunjipennu comes home with lot of mailanchi (mehandi) leaves and everyone seems to be busy with some preparations. She is wondering what is so special that is keeping everyone else busy, with no one telling her anything about it.
She fears that may be her family has fixed her marriage, without informing her. She is left wondering how her new family would be, if there would be anyone to compete with her and so on. She feels she should ask Kunjipennu, then decides against it. She finally resigns to the fact that everything will depend on her destiny.
The lines here though uttered by a high-caste woman, the situation holds true for a lot of women barring their religion or even financial status. Women were neither consulted nor their opinions considered while deciding an important event in their own lives.
The women themselves were also incapable of making a concrete decision as they had a no idea about the situation outside their own households. So the immediate step was to bring them out of their secluded lives and take active part in the social lives around them. Education was seen as a tool not to just empower the girl child, but also a necessity for the society to develop.
Works like Adukalayail Ninnu Arangatteku played a major role in popularizing these ideas.