Cactus Summary by Koyamparambath Satchidanandan

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Koyamparambath Satchidanandan was born in 1946 in Pulloot, a village in Kodungallur in the Thrissur District of Kerala. K. Sachidanandan is an Indian poet and critic writing in Malayalam and English. A pioneer of modern poetry in Malayalam, a bilingual critic, playwright, editor, literary columnist and translator, he is the former Editor of Indian Literature Journal and the former Secretary of Sahitya Akademi. He is also a public intellectual of repute upholding secular democratic views, supporting causes like environment, human rights and free software and a well-known speaker on issues concerning contemporary Indian literature.


The poet says that thorns are his dialectal. The thoughts in his mind do not venture like flowers. But they are only like thorns because of the adverse conditions outside his limitations. The poet conveys through his poem that his existence in this world is known or felt to others only through pain and blood. Whoever touches or sympathizes with him is cursed by a prick from his thorns.

The poem ‘Cactus’ challenges our age-old notions of beauty. Conventionally, beauty is associated with harmony, colour,  softness, smoothness, structure, brightness, etc. A cactus is not considered for its beauty. Its language hurts others; bleeds others; as the thorns are its language, it is sharp and piercing. Once it had flowers. But, it dislikes lovers who cheat.

The poet K Sachidananthan who always tries to move away from the usual path, treats the beauty of surviving in adverse situations. Here he follows the deconstructionist technique of Michael Foucault and Jacques Derrida. According to Wordsworth, Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions recollected in tranquillity. That means the wor4ld of poetry is full of imagination.


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But Sachidananthan creates a new world of poetry based on the sharp reality of life, poem about a cactus full of thorns and unattractiveness which is its real power. Thorns are my language. The thoughts in my mind do not project like flowers, but like thorns because of the adverse conditions outside and my own limitations. My existence in this world is known or felt to others only through pain and blood whoever touches or sympathizes with me is cursed by a sting from my thorns.

Cactus remembers its childhood when these thorns were flowers. She says. I hate lovers who betray since it is the most irrevocable sin. The cactus criticizes the poets who praise only peripheral beauty for they abandoned the deserts in search of the beautiful plants in garden which are nursed by a gardener. But in a desert, bearing the hot sun, only camels and merchants travel. They crush my flowers to dust.

They do not sympathies with me. But only ruin me. I have been living with the least facilities available. Leaves are reduced to thorns. There is only one thorn for each rare drop of water. I don’t tempt butterflies. Nor does any bird praise me. And I know my limitations. I don’t want them to bleed because of me. I don’t yield to drought. My withstanding power is quite appreciable. Beyond the boundaries of moonlight, I create another beauty. This is a world of dreams. In my real world, there is a sharp, piercing parallel language.

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