The popular witticism – when the going gets tough, the tough get going – has literally set off a young anthropologist- cum- archaeologist to author a book for children on Kunjali Marakkar, the legendary hero of the 16th century.
For N.K. Ramesh, a guide at the Kunjali Marakkar Memorial Museum at Vadakara, it was an opportunity to trace the history of the four Kunjali Marakkars, when his contract was terminated after the museum was closed to the public from March.
“Certainly a difference existed between writing for children and for adults. So I put down a simple narration and included illustrations based on important events during the period of Kunjali Marakkar and also a picture of a mural painting of a sea war,” he says.
Kunjali Marakkar was a honorific title given to the Muslim naval chief of the erstwhile Zamorin of Calicut. “The four Kunjali Marakkars who were the naval commanders of Zamorin fought against the Portuguese from 1507 to 1600. In fact, the Kunjali Marakkars were maritime merchants and supporters of Arab trade who lived in the coastal regions of Kayalpattinam, Kilakarai, Thoothukudi, and Karaikal. But they shifted their trade to Kochi and then migrated to Ponnani after Portuguese trade interference,” Mr. Ramesh says.
He took about four months to pen the book with 104 pages. The book has already hit the stands although the official launch has been deferred in view of the COVID-19 protocol.
Historian M.G.S. Narayanan has given an introduction to the book on Kunjali Marakkar, whose battles against the Portuguese were portrayed as a symbolic national movement.
The book also delves into the objective of the construction of a fort by Pattu Marakkar, the third Kunjali Marakkar, at Iringal (Kottakkal) in 1571 and the political dispute between his nephew Mohammed Marakkar, who became the fourth Kunjali Marakkar, and the Zamorin.
Later, the Zamorin joined hands with the Portuguese to defeat the last Kunjali Marakkar. The fort was also demolished and Kunjali executed by the Portuguese. The decline of Kunjali Marakkar, he says, led to establishment of Dutch Dominion and later British rule in India.
Mr. Ramesh, who holds a postgraduate degree in anthropology from Kannur university and Post M.Sc. Diploma in Museology from Aligarh Muslim University, has been credited with numerous discoveries, including the unearthing of Palaeolithic tools from north Malabar.
For a living, the 34-year-old is now engaged in de-husking at farms and odd jobs at Nadapuram and adjoining areas.