Literary Legacy of Pannalal Patel's Novel Malela Jiv

Regional Literatures in India

by Snehal Parmar

The Gujarati literary tradition has come a long way since its inception. Yet, in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we often forget to take a step back and appreciate the various Gujarati novels that have enriched our culture. Gujarati literature is a treasure trove of wisdom and knowledge. It offers us an invaluable insight into our culture and values. Not only does it provide us with a greater understanding of our Gujarati heritage, but it also helps us to better appreciate our relationships with one another.

My name is Snehal Parmar and I have been doing voice recordings for the last five years in Akashvani radio station, Ahmedabad on a contract basis and I am still working there. I was thrilled when I was assigned to review a book about Gujarati literature as I am a huge fan of romantic Gujarati novels. I decided to review a novel I particularly enjoyed and shared my opinion about it in my first recording.

I am writing this book review to make people in today's fast-paced generation, who might have time-pass relationships, understand what real love is. To do this, I will be discussing the Gujarati writer Pannalal Patel's romantic novel, "Malela Jiv".

Panna Lal Patel is renowned as one of the best novelists of the Gandhi era, with many of his works being awarded prestigious national awards. His novel "Malela Jeev" is particularly renowned, being translated into multiple languages including Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Sindhi and Malayalam. It has even been adapted into a Hindi movie titled “Ulzan”.

Jivi Barber and Kanji are the two main characters of this novel set in a village. Jivi is a child widow and Kanji a country boy from the Patel caste. They are at the brink of youth, navigating their way through a new environment. Along their journey, they meet a range of secondary characters including Bhagat, Dhulo, Hero, Nani Doshi, Kali, and Mani.

Kanji and Jivi first meet when they went to a Janmashtami fair in the village to sit in a chagdol. Immediately, they fell in love, but due to Jivi being a child widow and their different castes, marriage was impossible. Knowing this, Kanji wanted Jivi to be happy and proposed that she marry someone from her own caste, to which she eventually agreed. Dhula, a young man from the same village, married Jivi, and the two were finally able to be together.

Jivi and Kanji were childhood friends and Jivi had always been in love with him. Even after Jivi married Dhula, she never stopped thinking of Kanji and every night she would shed tears remembering him. As the mahuda leaves fall from the mahuda tree, tears would fall from Jivi's eyes. Kanji, on the other hand, would try to escape their married life and would go to the city telling the villagers he was earning money.
Jirvi had had enough of Dhula's bad nature, suspicion and alcohol addiction, so she decided to kill him by mixing poison into his food. Unfortunately, the poisoned bread was mistakenly eaten by Jirvi and she died. The villagers accused her of killing Dhula and labeled her a witch.

When Kanji heard about Jirvi's plight, he returned to the village and took her hand in front of everyone. The actor playing Bhagat in the village exclaimed, "Ke Wah Re Manvi Taru Haiyun!" in admiration of Kanji's courageous act.

In this novel, the narrator presents the story of two lovers through beautifully written letters. Panna Lal Patel has presented the matter as if it had happened to him, giving it an incentive for readers to continue reading. The narrator's use of poetic language to express the love between the two characters is captivating. Additionally, the novel provides an insight into the lifestyle of a village, including the singing of wedding songs, hymns sung during funerals, and the various rituals that are performed.

The novel illustrates the power of true love: it always lasts, always wins, and always has won. In contrast, false love quickly fades and cannot stand up to the power of true love, as seen in the examples of Kanji, Jirvi, and Dhula.

The writer expresses the difficulty of finding and sustaining true love in today's age. The novel is structured to touch the heart and bring tears to the eyes, showcasing the power of love.

“The novel illustrates the power of true love.”
I really hope you enjoyed this novel's intriguing backstory, and I would encourage those who haven't read it to do so. This Gujarati literary classic is a priceless legacy and reading it will bring a unique kind of joy. It is especially important for the youth of today to read this novel and learn from it, as it emphasizes the importance of true love and relationships in our lives.