Famed Malayalam poet Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri or Akkitham, as he was popularly known, has passed away on Thursday. He was 94 years old. He has left behind an expansive body of work. During his lifetime, the poet received numerous awards, including Padma Shri, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Poetry, and the Jnanpith Award last year. Many hailed him for being a crusader of modernism in Malayalam poetry.
Akkitham’s ”Irupatham Noottandinte Ithihasam” (Epic of the 20th Century) is considered as one of the first truly modernist poems in Malayalam literature. A popular verse – ”Velicham dukhamanunni, thamasallo sukhapradam”, which is roughly translated as “light brings sorrow, my child, darkness is bliss” is like a proverb for Keralites. It is also interpreted as “worldly knowledge is pain my child, ignorance is bliss.”
On September 24, the legendary Malayalam poet Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri was presented the Jnanpith Award at home since he was too unwell to collect it personally. Three weeks later, the great writer has passed away. His words live on. Om shanti! pic.twitter.com/ozszjM79jl
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) October 15, 2020
Born on March 18, 1926, in a traditional Namboothiri family, Akkitham, was a true Gandhian, social reformer and journalist, and had worked as an editor in various magazines before joining the All India Radio (AIR) in 1956 at Kozhikode. Akkitham’s wife, Sreedevi Antharjanam, died last year.
In his lifetime, he penned around 45 books, comprising poetry anthologies, plays, and short stories including ”Balidarsanam” (The Vision of Bali), ”Arangettam”, ”Nimisha Kshetram”, ”Idinju Polinja Lokam”, ”Amrita Ghatika”, and ”Kalikkottilil” and many more. Akkitham had bagged the Jnanpith award, the highest literary award, and is the sixth writer to bring the honor for Malayalam literature. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the award was presented to him last month at a function at his home in Kumaranalloor in Palakkad district.