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Google the name Indulekha and the top hits are fairness concoctions that make you aspire to ideals set in the late 19th century by a popular novel of the same name. We find this piece radical yet regressive. Indulekha was a girl who defied the system by her ambition for knowledge yet at the same time she seems unreal. Was this just a literal translation of an English scenario that the author, Chandu Menon, wrote about or was it inspired by someone he knew with the same character? Did a woman like Indulekha really exist in that time?

What’s really interesting to the Malayalam Project is the role that English as a foreign language plays in the story. Indulekha is bold by having learnt this new alphabet. She can read and write and that makes a sour suitor almost make literacy a villain. The period probably saw the steep rise in adoption of English due to colonial influences. As it still stands today, the common language for communication with neighbouring states is English, since each languageĀ sounds and looks very different from each other.

Boon or vice?

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