The Shadow is a bold, fascinating experimental venture in the new genre of fiction, still rare in Malayalam. It is the tale of a human being whose inner self is tragically split into pieces like shattered glass, expounding the unique features of abnormal psychology, in particular the multiple personality. Normally, stories of split personality portray only the dividing of the self into two different characters, opposing each other. In ‘The Shadow’ T. V. Varkey paints the picture of a person’s scattered personality as three equally important and antagonistic individuals, thereby making a brilliant and scintillating story. The author has definitely succeeded in bringing life to the incidents and characters, which spark off great conflict among the divided personalities.
In the novel, the protagonist, Sankaran Nair, sees a second Sankaran Nair, and a few days later a third Sankaran Nair appears in exact shape and figure of the original hero as he lies in an emotionally broken state. In appearance the second and the third Sankaran Nairs are the same and know each other well. But they are different; they hold divergent views and are always in a fighting mood to win over their opponents. And all the emotional infighting within the mind of the real Sankaran Nair triggers off violent pursuits which ultimately reduce him to a nervous wreck
The unmarried Sankaran Nair was a section officer in a government office and led a life totally devoted to his work, not being bothered by basic personal needs of sex, marriage and family. One day he retired from service and that sudden break in his routine threw him into the life of a lone, aimless wanderer. The novel concentrates on his pathetic plight and his dreamy roaming in search of peace and building up of a family life late in life. All his attempts end in failure, leading him into tragic collapse and horrific death.
The narrative power of the author is overwhelming. By mixing reality with fantasy, the story’s grip is effectively maintained throughout the novel. Packed with vibrant incidents and pathos the Shadow stands out as an exceptionally beautiful novel. T. V. Varkey can be proud of being the author of a magnificent creative work….
By Prof. (Dr.) M. Leelavathy
(Kerala Sahitya (Literary) Academy Magazine, February 1993
(Dr. M Leelavathy is one of the most respected senior literary critics of Kerala. Being a dispassionate critic, her views are highly regarded not only by litterateurs but also by the intellectual community as a whole.