Harkwillia maybe a name which disappeared gradually into the oblivion created by our narrow memory. Or maybe the social prejudices are to be blamed, which have abandoned it considering that the name brought out memories of harsh times. Whatever be the intrinsic reason, no one associates the salty airs of Kasaragod today with the Arabic name of its forgotten past.
It may have been this Arabic intervention on trade during the early 9th century AD which sparked the richer community’s interest on a repressive society and the ‘rich getting richer’ doctrines. But Kasaragod would get transformed out of their political outlook during the years of national independence movement, which I am to say, was filled with a repertoire of struggles, riots and fiercely communist ideals.
The year was 1919 when Mohammad Jamal, a paid worker at a local field which grew rice first hesitated at the act of repression from the hands of a wealthy landlord. He envisaged a notion of a revolutionary movement which not only would bring them freedom but also save them from continuing landlord oppression-ism. For his dream, he was banished from the land and received death threats if he ever came back again.
Most stories are beyond comprehension and if I couldn’t get absolute evidences, I wouldn’t have discussed the story of Jamal any further. But rumors spread along the locality that Jamal grew exceptionally rich after his banishment from the lands, on which he used to make a living, and even got married to the daughter of a prominent Islamic philosopher.
The rumors were strengthened into facts as Jamal returned years later on a sober October evening in 1938, aged, wealthy, fat and devious! He became exactly what he once repudiated with all his fervor. He brought back the land from which he was banished, made a fortune and brought a collage of slaves from the buzzing markets of Sultan Bathery in Wayanad.
What followed were years of discrimination, brutal harassment and mandatory acts of violence if works were not finished on time. The abominable fact was that, these crusades were not just limited to the fields owned by Mohammad Jamal but could be diabolically interpolated onto the whole of Kerala during that particular era.
Workers all over wreathed at the havoc that had be-fallen on them. Onto this fertile land, just at the precise moment in time, Communism was planted with auspicious care. It presented the workers with a faint degree of chance to escape from their daily strife and hope for a better resurrection. One should add on at this context that it was as much the lamenting working class mind as the sacramental image of Communism that made it sprout at the fields of Kasaragod and Kerala alike.
What happened next was something that could never be imagined with as much vigor as the occurrences themselves. The power and the selflessness you feel once you associate with a group of like-minded individuals shall show no bounds. In 1941, the same feelings arrested the minds of all the workers in Jamal’s fields and also at the fields nearby resulting in a massive assembly of oppressed people who turned more violent with every second that they remained together. They took up arms, destroyed homes, raped wealthy women, killed children and rampaged over fields.
By the time they reached Mohammad Jamal, he asked his wife to flee with their 2 children, and amassed enough strength to go out to the rioters with bare hands. He proclaimed with a courage, which reminded at least some of the rioters of Jamal’s days begone, that he was ready to be prosecuted. It sadly never lured the respect of the rioters, they beheaded him, stabbed his body several times to ensure ‘proper’ mutilation and dilation of their anger. Finally they burned his house and looted all his remaining possessions.
It took almost a whole year to completely calm the violence that spread like an uncontrollable chemical reaction through all parts of the state.
What remained was a society which shifted from oppression onto a perplexed reverence towards the working class which successfully marked the beginning of an era of workmanship in Kerala.
What happened to the family of Jamal, was something else. Being banished twice from lands, that were theoretically theirs the whole time, might have pained Jamal even in his afterlife. I would have thought of him wandering all over the globe in desperation to meet his long lost family. But when the day of judgement came and he was called upon to be reborn again, he would have lost all faith of finding them again.
But it is to be said that the call of destiny is unfathomably alluring. Mohammad Jamal may have been born again, this time into the womb of his youngest daughter Jameela. And to oblige her father, who showed paramount resilience at the most acute times of their lives, Jameela named her child Jamal.