Kali and Ponna is a couple madly in love with each other, but they remain childless for more than 12 years after marriage. During those 12 years, in the period immediately preceding the country’s independence, they have run the gamut of prayers to various deities, vows and penances, but to no avail.
Kali’s mother tells him that his family is cursed by Pavatha, a ferocious female deity in the jungle, for a past crime against a young girl, and that the males in his family are doomed to remain childless; if a child is born to them, it will be short-lived.
Kali and Ponna offer votive sacrifice at the altar of Pavatha and climb the varadikkal, barren woman’s rock, on the hill of Thiruchengodu, but these efforts do not bear fruit. In this scenario, Ponna’s family—her mother and brother—as well as Kali’s old mother, conspire to send Ponna alone to the festival to receive the blessing of a child from an anonymous Sami.
This is the harrowing account of how a community’s pathological obsession tears a loving couple apart and destroys their marriage. The novel is translated to Malayalam under the title Ardhanareeswaran and is published by DC Books.