Subhadra Vallillath Madhathil

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About Subhadra Vallillath Madhathil

Subhadra Valliath Madathil was born into an aristocratic family of Malabar, the youngest daughter of Rao Bahadur T. M. Appu Nedungadi, a multi-faceted personality: a successful lawyer, a banker, a writer, and a great social reformer. He is credited with the establishment of the first English medium school for girls in Calicut, the land of the Zamorins. He founded the first bank in the commercial sector in the whole of India, the Nedungadi Bank, which withstood the ups and downs of socio-economic changes for a century. Well versed in both English and Sanskrit, he also wrote the first novel in his regional language, i.e. Malayalam, titled Kundalatha. This imitated the English novel and proved to be a milestone in Malayalam literature, paving the way towards the emergence of great social novels in the language. Appu Nedungadi gave the Malayalam literary world a hitherto unknown platform to voice their concerns over the sweeping socio-economic changes of his early-twentieth-century nation.

Subhadra was well educated, at first in the very school started by her father, and later at Queen Mary’s College in Madras, where she obtained her B.A. degree. At college she was very popular among the staff and students alike; her beauty and charm made her the cynosure of all eyes. A popular story of those days mentions the adventure of a group of young boys from Kerala who boarded a train to Madras only to catch a glimpse of the beautiful Subhadra.

It was while Subhadra was studying at Queen Mary’s College that she first met G. K. Chettur, the principal of the Government College in Mangalore, when he was the chief guest at a function in her college. He was then a handsome and dynamic young man. In love at first sight, they married in 1925, their story having all the clippings of a fairy tale. A beautiful, much loved daughter, Padmini, was soon born to them. While Chettur devoted his time to his family and his college, tragedy struck. What started as a mild stomach pain developed into a cancer that spread rapidly. The visits to his family doctor became more frequent, and the excruciating pain ended all his college activities. But he continued writing about his hopes and his fears, expressing his helplessness and despondency.

When a person's death comes suddenly, it casts a gloom over his friends, but he is oblivious to the shock they feel. The predicament of an individual who is aware of his condition and helpless as death approaches is truly pathetic and painful. The Triumph of Love traces the poignant mental agony written as Chettur fought a losing battle against the cancer that claimed his life, at 38 years, on March 3, 1936. His death took from his parents their eldest son in the prime of his life. The poet’s shattered, desolate wife Subhadra did not return to her parents’ home as was customary. She instead chose to remain in her husband’s ancestral home at Coonoor in Madras presidency and sought solace in her husband’s memories and the raising of their daughter Padmini.

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Subhadra Vallillath Madhathil's Timeline

1903
July 6, 1903
Calicut, Kerala, India
1925
1925
Age 21
Calicut, Kerala, India
1929
March 19, 1929
Age 25
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Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, India
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Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, India