“Oru Manushyan”, Kuttippuzha, a young man from a small village in Kerala, struggles to find his place in the world. He is a dreamer and a rebel, and he is often at odds with the conventions of his society. The novel is a coming-of-age story that explores the themes of identity, belonging, and the search for meaning in life. Read More 1st PUC English Summaries.
Oru Manushyan Summary
Oru Manushyan Summary in English
‘Oru Manushyan’ when translated to English means ‘A Man’ and the title refers to a man who comes to the rescue of the speaker, who is in a land which is one thousand five hundred miles away from his home. The speaker knows no one there; neither does he know the local language. He knows English and Hindustani, but not many inhabitants of the land understand English or Hindustani. The place is quite a big city in the valley of a mountain. The crime rate is high as the people are merciless and are prepared to do anything for money. They work as soldiers, money lenders and watchmen in banks/mills/commercial establishments.
The speaker, who stays in a small room, teaches English to migrant labourers from nine-thirty till eleven in the night as people want to learn English to write addresses in English at the post office. If they have to get it done by others, they have to pay anything between one anna and four annas. The speaker, who earns very little, sleeps all day and wakes up at four in the evening so as to avoid the expenses of morning tea and noon lunch.
One evening he goes to a crowded restaurant to have his food and when he has to pay the bill of eleven annas, he realises that his purse with his life’s savings of fourteen rupees is missing. But, the owner of the restaurant thinks that the speaker is trying to cheat him, and threatens to gouge his eyes out. None of the others at the restaurant seem to have any kindness either.
The speaker pleads with the owner to keep his coat as surety. But, the owner guffaws and makes the speaker remove his coat, shirt, and shoes. When he wants the speaker to remove even the trousers, the speaker pleads with him for mercy saying he has nothing inside. This only invokes more laughter and the restaurant owner, along with fifty other people gathered there, forces the speaker to strip further, and says mockingly, “There must be something inside.”
The speaker, now resigned to his fate, starts unbuttoning his trousers, all the time imagining himself standing naked in front of others, with his eyes gouged out. It is at this point that a blue-eyed, fair-complexioned, a six-footer with a red turban and white trousers intervenes and offers to pay the amount due, to the owner. He asks the speaker to go with him and when the grateful speaker asks for his name, he says he has no name.
When the speaker says ‘Mercy’ must be his name, he does not react and walks on until they reach a deserted bridge. There, after making sure that no one is around, the stranger takes out five wallets and asks the speaker which of these is his. He warns the speaker to go away without turning around and adds that the speaker should not admit to anyone that he has seen the man. He gives the wallet, which has been identified by the speaker as his own, with the money intact, and leaves the place wishing the speaker that he be helped by God. The speaker, on his part, hopes that God would help the stranger.
It is clear that the man, who helps the speaker, in reality, is the pick-pocket who has stolen the purse of the speaker, in addition to four other wallets. Though the speaker is more than grateful to the man, the situation raises many ethical questions. Do we take the pick-pocket as a man with a kind heart? Following one line of argument, we can say that he definitely is. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have helped the speaker. Had he been totally hard-hearted, he would have probably had a lot of fun, watching the humiliation of the speaker, knowing full well that the speaker is telling the truth.
One more point that goes in his favour is the truth that the money he pays at the restaurant is not from the fourteen rupees of the speaker. In fact, he asks the speaker to count his money and make sure that the amount is not touched.
But, this doesn’t absolve him of wrongdoing. What would have happened to the speaker if the man who had picked his pocket wasn’t around? What about the plight of the other four people who have lost their wallets? Isn’t there the possibility that they too would probably be in similar or even worse situations? There is also the question of the background of the thief. Has he indulged in the crime because of some unavoidable circumstances or is it that he is a man who wants to earn some quick money? The various ethical questions point in one direction – we cannot sit in judgment of the actions of others.
No case can be judged from a single point of view. There are multiple possibilities. However, it is evident that, though a criminal, the man – ‘Oru Manushyan’ – is certainly a person with some goodness in his heart and the speaker would always remember him as his kind saviour.
In conclusion, “Oru Manushyan” by S.K. Pottekkatt is a thought-provoking exploration of the human condition, highlighting the complexities of love, morality, and destiny through the life of its central character, Appukkili. The novel leaves readers pondering the intricacies of human nature and the choices that shape our lives.