Welcome to begin a wonderful journey through Payyoli, a small village in Kerala, famously known as God’s own country. A region of Southwest India which brings you the wonderful smells of the backwaters and the breeze of its coconut palms – and a tale of a poor washerman’s ( dhobi) family settled in this village which goes through considerable misfortune.
But the misfortune is just the beginning of an unforeseen and exciting future, which the author Mohan Narayanan captures our attention through his unique style of story-telling by introducing us to whole new unknown facts of the Kerala religious culture.
The historic figure, Tipu Sultan, the great ruler of Srirangapatna, finds his way through this book “The Payyoli Pendant” – the usual style of Mohan to induce facts mixed with fiction, which he’s known to have done very well in his plays like “Ashwaha” which was based on the Mahabharata, and “The Truth – According to Demas, Gestas and Others”, based on the Bible.
Mohan justifies his reasons to bring in the army general of Tipu Sultan to the Wayanad district of Kerala, for introducing us to wonderful places like Kalpetta, Vadakara and of course the French colony Mahe which is under Pondicherry today. Also to bring together with harmony, the two largest religions – Hinduism and Islam – of India.
What makes the story so special is the wonderful, mystical sciences or metaphysics of India finding connections with the latest and even the future western technologies. It is Mohan at his usual best when he explains the importance of every Indian ritual, and very boldly even introduces vernacular terms (mostly Tamil) at brief periods in his narration.
To start with the name of the book, The Payyoli Pendant which bears the secondary title “A Techno-Tantric Tale”, itself is intriguing to the reader. The diamond Pendant is in safe hands of a young girl Harani aged twelve, who falls into a trance as soon as she gets hold of it and travels back in Time ( H G Well’s – The Time Machine) to be witness to Tipu’s army general Nafiz Khan reaching the village Payyoli, the home to the temple of Goddess Devi.
Nafiz Khan knew that this was a very rich temple and the deity was adorned with a glowing diamond Pendant attached to an emerald necklace which in today’s date could be valued in millions. Nafiz’s inability to grab hold of it, speaks enough of the power of Goddess of Payyoli protecting the temple which centuries after, makes Harani the rightful heir to the Pendant.
Will this Pendant remain safe in Harani’s hands? Haran’s cousin Manikkam finds a part to play in this magical drama mixed with science fiction as both of them find themselves fighting for its safety in the midst of the Grand Canyon. How far can Harani and Manikkam go to save it? Will the gods and goddesses manifest themselves in this age of scientific inventions?
This is where the beautiful blend of Science and God meet in the myriad imaginations of the author.
Interestingly, Mohan finds a natural rhythm of narrating the story in a fluent style like the late R.K.Narayan of “Malgudi Days” fame. Mohan has this uncanny rarity to hold on to his traditional values of religious faith and yet boldly explore his individual freedom of expression.
The Payyoli Pendant certainly moves one step closer to bringing together the various ethnic cultures and drawing a bond between them. Does this bond deepen itself or does it get snapped off? Only Mohan can answer it through his next sequel which is awaited with great curiosity and excitement – The Payyoli Draupnir,due for world-wide release shortly by the fastest growing US Publishing house today, Strategic & Eloquent Books of the AEG Group, New York.