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S.K. Pottekad is a name which will always be remembered by those who are proud of the literary wealth of Malayalam language. He did not limit himself to a particular field of literary creativity. He started writing poems and short stories even when he was studying in school. When he decided to spend his life for literary creativity he could come out with three collections of poems, ten novels, twenty four short story collections, eighteen travelogues, one collection of essays and a drama. He started with a short story when he was studying in fifth standard, which was published in the school magazine.
Sankaran Kutty Kunhiraman Pottekad was his full name and was born on 13th March, 1913 at Kozhikode. His father, Kunhiraman was a school teacher. Pottekad was his family name. He had his schooling at Kozhikode itself. After intermediate he worked in Gujarathy school there for about one and a half years. He was always interested in travels, hence resigned from school and went to Thripura to attend the meeting of Congress Party in 1939. Later he took up clerical jobs in certain private companies in Mumbai. But he was not happy with this type of life, sitting inside four walls and doing something mechanically, he wanted to see world and know the life of people in different countries.
In 1945 he returned to Kerala with the firm decision that he would continue literary activities and make money for a living from that . Meanwhile he visited several places in India. He travelled through very interior places to know about people and their living conditions there. He very much wished to go outside India also. It was in 1949 that he made his first foreign trip. Afterwards he could go to almost all countries, except America. He visited even small islands where no one else had gone earlier. He attended the World Peace meet at Helsinki.
The most interesting part of his life is that he wrote his travel experiences in simple but beautiful language which actually took the readers to those places with him. Because of these his eighteen travelogues are much read and Pottekad is more known as a travelogue writer. His "Pathira sooryante nattil", "Kaappirikalute naattil", "London note book", "Baali dweep", "Nile Diary", etc. are very famous publications in this category.
Pottekad was the second literary personality to receive the Jnanapeetam award from Malayalam language, in the year 1980.(Earlier, the first Jnanapeetam award, which started in 1965, went to great Malayalam poet G. Sankara Kurup). The award winning work was a novel, Oru desathinte katha, which was almost the story of his own place, and hence is giving a life sketch of the author. 'Oru theruvinte katha' 'Mootu patam', 'naatan premam' and 'Visha kanyaka' are the other notable novels by Pottekad. Of this 'Oru desathinte katha' got the Kendra Sahitya Akademy award in addition to the Jnanapeetam award. Oru theruvinte katha had received the Kerala Sahitya akademy award and Visha kanyaka received an award from the then Madras Government.
Among his short story collections more known titles are 'Pulliman', 'Rajamalli', 'Chandrakantham' (his house also had the same name, Chandrakantham), 'Meghamaala' and 'Indra neelam'. His short stories are almost like poems, which shows his creative ability also as a poet. The collections of poems he published are 'Prabhatha kanthi', 'Sanchariyute geethangal'and 'Prema silpi'. 'Acchan' was his only drama.
He had contested to Loksabha from Thalassery parliamentary constituency in 1957 and in 1962. In 1962 he was elected with the support of the left front. He was a member of the Kerala Sahitya Akademy from the very beginning. He also was an executive member of the Kendra Sahitya Akademy.
He served as the President of Kerala Sahitya Samithy and also that of Thunchan Smaraka Samithy. He also served as the President of the Cooperative Society of Literary Workers. Pottekad was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Calicut University.
This year, 2013, is the birth centenary year of this great literary worker S.K. Pottekad, who died on August 6th, 1982.