(This story was first published on 28 August 2015. As Malayalees celebrate Onam this week, this story has been reposted from The Quint’s archives.)
Your teacher says, “On Onam, for homework, I want you to draw a Mallu and name his parts.”
What do you do? What do you do?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
Here are six mallu characters you could choose from for your assignment on Onam.
Ganga– Husband works in Gelf
Ganga (pronounced ‘Genga’) hails from Mayyazhi Village, which is a pristine village by the Mahe river. It is surrounded by Kerala, but soaked in French tradition, thanks to the influence of the French, who decided to leave only in 1954 (13 June) which was when they realised that their traditional fish stew, bouillabaisse, was inferior to that of Mayyazhi’s, which was doused in copious amounts of coconut milk. It was a reluctant farewell, and so Mayyazhi remains a Union Territory.
Ganga loves to watch Parasparam and Chandanamazha and never missed a single episode of Sthreedhanam.
Though there is no power-cut in the village, Ganga sometimes switches off the TV. She talks to Karumbi Amma, a toothless old lady, who loves to sit by the river, sniff snuff and talk about one of her many French lovers.
Today she has prepared the Sadhya and is now eagerly waiting for her husband Kumaranto return from the Gelf.
Kumaran– Gelf Return
Whenever Kumaran returns from the Gelf, Nakulan Asaan (headmaster), Unni Ammavan, Quincy Amma and everyone else in Mahe asks the same question, “When are you going back?” It is a cultural thing and has nothing to do with Kumaran.
Kumaran always wears goggles, gold chain(s)and ring(s). He is now on his way to take a bath, enjoy the Onam Sadhya, sleepoff the jet lag and pack for the return trip.
Dincy Chechi sells Aiyla (mackerel), Kora (salmon) and Choora (Tuna) and sometimes Kannava (squid) among many other tasty fish. Her husband Alphonse catches fish deep in the backwaters with a net and sometimes in shallow waters using a crossbow.
Dincy Chechi smiled only for this caricature.
She is otherwise serious and will slap you with a Mushi (cat fish) if you bargain too much.
LeninEtta is a Saghavu
Leninetta is a Saghavu (communist) and lives in Thiruvananthapuram. If you ask him, he will tell you that Thiruvananthapuram was the second elected communist government in the world. He will tell you even if you don’t ask him.
Leninetta loves to talk. When not holding the mic, he will hold your hand (tightly, with no possibility of escape). He will tell you about how CPI(M) leader MA Baby cried like a baby after touching Maradona in Jyoti Basu’s office.
“Maradona is also a fellow traveler (communist), you know?”
“He likes Che!”
Raheem Loves Puttu
Raheem owns a Chaikkada (tea shop) in Malappuram and is also the Chaia Master. He can pull the Chaia to up to a height of 1.73 metres while mixing the fresh milk and tea-decoction. But he loves puttu and Kadala (gram) curry. Credit is allowed in his Kada (shop) for only seven people in the town. He might consider barter for a plate of special puttu (with extra coconut and banana) and Kadala curry from Iqbal’s shop.
Chako Achchan Likes Uperi
‘Did you know coconut oil is the only oil that does not dissindegrayte in high heat?’ Chako Achchan asks this question to all foreigners who come to his store, to impress them and impress on them the all-round O!-ness of the Uperi (banana chips).