Vaikom Muhammad Basheer – Biography

Vaikom Muhammad Basheer was born on 21st January 1908 and he is one of the prominent literary figures of Malayalam literature. He was also a freedom fighter, novelist and a humanist. His works are translated in many languages and got him worldwide acclaim. His works include, Baalyakaalasakhi, Shabdangal, Mathilukal, Paaththummaayude, Anarga Nimisham, etc. He is called affectionately as Beypore Sultan. He got Padma Shri award in the year 1982.

He was born in Thalayolaparambu village in northern Travancore. His family was large and so he did not live a rich life in his younger days. He studied at Malayalam medium school in the beginning and later studied in English medium school at Vaikom. He adored Mahatma Gandhi and started to wear – Khadi.

He left the school when studying fifth form and went to fight for the cause of Indian Independence. He joined Indian National Congress. He went to Kozhikode to take part in Salt Satyagraha in 1930. He was sentenced to imprisonment for three months. He was inspired by revolutionary leaders Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru. These three were executed when he spent his days in Kannur jail. He was released after Gandhi Irwin pact of March 1931.

He left Kerala and traveled to many parts of India and abroad for seven years. He undertook many works at that time like cook, fortune teller, fruit seller, accountant, watchman, etc. to keep him from starvation. He lived with Sufi mystics in the hermitages of Himalayas for more than five years. He had to starve most of the time.

He started to write stories when he was in jail. His works during 1941 – 1943 are Baalyakaalasakhi and Premalekhanam. He had to publish his works himself and take them to homes to sell them. He also ran bookstalls. During his forties he married Fabi Basheer who was much younger than him and settled down to domestic life. He had two children Anees and Shahina. He lived at Beypore, south of Kozhikode. He wrote his famous book /Pathummayude Aadu/ during his treatment for mental illness. He died on 5th July 1994.

Published Works

1. Premalekhanam [ A love letter] (Novel) (1943).
2. Baalyakaalasakhi [ Sweetheart from childhood] (Novel) (1944).
3. Kathaabeejam [ Seed of a story ] (Play) (1945).
4. Janmadinam [Birthday] (Short stories) (1945).
5. Ormakkurippu [Jottings from memory] (Short stories) (1946).
6. Anargha nimisham [Invaluable instant] (See Anal Haq) (Short stories) (1946).
7. Shabdangal [Voices] (Novel) (1947).
8. Viddhikalude Swargam [Fools’ paradise] (Short stories) (1948).
9. Ente uppuppakkoru aana undayirunnu [Me grandad had an elephant] (Novel) (1951).
10. Maranathininde Nizhalil [In the shadow of death] (Novel) (1951).
11. Muchcheettu kalikkaarande Makal [The daughter of the card-shark] (Novel) (1951).
12. Paavappettavarudey Vaeshya [The courtesan of the poor] (Short stories) (1952).
13. Sthalathe Pradhaana Divyan [The principal divine of the place] (Novel) (1953).
14. Aanavaariyum Ponkurishum [Elephant rustler and Golden cross] (Novel) (1953).
15. Jeevithanizhalppaadukal [The shadows of life] (Novel) (1954).
16. Vishwavikhkhyaathamaaya Mookku [The world-renowned nose] (Short stories) (1954).
17. Vishappu [Hunger] (Short stories) (1954).
18. Paaththummayude Aadu [Paaththumma’s goat] (Novel) (1959).
19. Mathilukal [Walls] (Novel; basis for a film (1989) by Adoor Gopalakrishnan) (1965).
20. Oru Bhagavadgeethayum Kuraey Mulakalum [A Bhagavadgeetha and some breasts] (Short stories) (1967).
21. Thaaraa Specials (Novel) (1968).
22. Maanthrika poochcha [The magic cat] (Novel) (1968).
23. Nerum Nunayum [Truth and lie] (Commentary and letters) (1969).
24. Ormmayudaey Arakal [The cells of memory] (Commentary and reminiscences) (1973).
25. Aanappooda [Elephant-hair] (Short stories) (1975).
26. Chirikkunna Marappaava [The laughing wooden doll] (Short stories) (1975).
27. Bhoomiyudaey Avakaashikal [The inheritors of the earth] (Short stories) (1977).
28. Anuraagaththintaey Dhinangal [The days of desire] (Diary; originally titled Kaamukantaey diary [The diary of the paramour] and changed later on the suggestion of M. T. Vasudevan Nair) (1983).
29. Bhaargavinilayam [The house named Bhaargavi] (Screenplay for a film (1964) by A. Vincent which is credited as the first horror cinema in malayalam; adapted from the short story Neelavelichcham [The blue glow]) (1985).
30. M. P. Paul (Reminiscences of his friendship with M. P. Paul) (1991).
31. Shinkidimunkan (Short stories) (1991).
32. Cheviyorkkuka! Anthimakaahalam!! [Hark! The final clarion-call!!] (Speech) (1992).
33. Yaa Ilaahi! [Oh God!] (Short stories published posthumously) (1997).