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Right hand chopped off, Kerala prof's memoir wins award

He was 52 years old when the PFI attacked him on July 4, 2010. His right hand was chopped off
Last Updated : 30 July 2022, 03:18 IST
Last Updated : 30 July 2022, 03:18 IST
Last Updated : 30 July 2022, 03:18 IST
Last Updated : 30 July 2022, 03:18 IST

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A Kerala professor, whose right hand was chopped off by fundamentalists accusing him of blasphemy, has won an award for an autobiography written using his left hand.

Attupokatha Ormakal, meaning memories that were not chopped off, an autobiography in Malayalam written by Professor T J Joseph, won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award for the best autobiography of 2020, which was announced the other day.

It was in 2010 that Popular Front of India activists chopped off Joseph’s right hand, accusing him of blasphemy. Joseph, who was a Malayalam professor at the Newman College, Thodupuzha, in the Idukki district, invited the wrath of the fundamentalists over using the name Muhammad for a character in a question paper set for an internal examination.

Joseph later clarified that he had taken an excerpt from a known author P T Kunju Muhammed about the conversation between a madman and God. While there was no name for the madman in the article, Joseph gave the name Muhammad in the question paper, considering the author’s name.

He was 52 years old when the PFI attacked him on July 4, 2010. His right hand was chopped off. It took a long time for him to come back to life. But he could not write with his right hand anymore owing to the deformity. Hence, he started learning to write with his left hand.

Finally, he wrote his autobiography using his left hand and published it in 2020. It narrated the miseries of his life. The college authorities also did not support Joseph. His wife ended her life owing to depression.

The autobiography was well received and was translated to English later with the title ‘A thousand cuts’.

Joseph also published a second book titled Bhranthanu Sthuthi (Praise the Madman), which is about the madman he referred to in the question paper.

Joseph, who shared the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award in the autobiography/biography category with M Kunjaman’s Ethiru, is currently abroad on a visit.

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Published 30 July 2022, 01:19 IST

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