Kosala (Cocoon) – Is it an Existentialist Novel?

It is believed that first time in the history of Marathi novel, Nemade brought the tradition of introducing and portraying the existential characters in his novels like Kosla, Bidhar, Jhool and Jarila where the central characters are sketched as having a sense of futility, and estranged from society, not enjoying the freedom of choice. Though prior to Kosla, there appeared a Marathi novel, E V Joshi‘s Ranbhool, with characteristics of existentialism, but it is Nemade‘s Kosla that has clearly featured the tenets of existentialism like obsession of birth and death, alienation and absurdity of human existence.

Kosla also explores the life of an individual and divulges many questions regarding the meaning of life and the values of existence. Pandurang Sangvikar is a protagonist of the novel. He tells us about his 25 years life story – from the childhood to graduation. At the beginning of the novel he declares that he has done nothing, though his father has spent money for his education, and he has never taken exams seriously. Even though, he has spent some years in the city, he could not develop his living style neatly.

As in the existential novels, he tells his life story from the first person point of view.

The novel portrays a modern youth in the wake of drastic change in every sector of India. Pandurang represents many unspoken modern youths who feel alienated from the society and culture they belong to.

After the independence of India, democracy and secularism became glittering slogans among the Indian intellectuals. But the democracy and secularism failed to provide hopeful, progressive and satisfactory aspirations to the young Indian generation. Modern youth is disillusioned by the inequality, hidden casteism, corruption, superstitions, unbearable poverty and inactive government. On the other hand, modern technology has made man‘s life comfortable and materialistic. As a result modern man is alienated from the society and even from himself. He becomes somewhat rebellious and critical about the society.

To quote Pandurang: “My whole childhood passed in awe of my father. He used to be wicked and cruel, etc. On the farm, once, having cleared a bit of ground, we children planted some flowers and such. So then, the moment he heard, he ripped them out and chucking them away, he said as he twisted my ear, if you plant ten banana stumps in this patch that would at least fetch twenty-five rupees. Now when I was learning to play the flute, perhaps everyone in my family may have been disturbed, and so on. But handing me a tight whack my Father said, This isn‘t Krishna‘s Age, is it? Take up your book. Throw away that bamboo. Having spoken thus, besides, he snatched the flute from me, broke it against the wall and flung it away.”

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