Kunjunni (10 May 1927 – 26 March 2006), popularly known as Kunjunni Mash (Mash is the Malayalam equivalent of teacher), was an Indian poet of Malayalam literature. Known for his short poems with a philosophical overtone, his works were popular among the children as well as the grown-ups. He received several honours including three awards from the Kerala Sahitya Akademi viz. Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Children’s Literature, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Poetry and Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Overall Contributions.
Early life and career
Kunjunni was born on May 10, 1927 at Valapad, a village in Thrissur district in the south Indian state of Kerala to Njayapilly Illathu Neelakantan Moosath and Athiyarathu Narayani Amma. Kunjunni started his career as a teacher at the Chelari school. He joined Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama High School in Kozhikode in 1953. He was an inmate of the Ashrama and taught, looked after and interacted with the hostel boys there. He retired from teaching in 1982 but continued to live in the Ashrama, which he had found to be most suitable for his unpretentious life and writings known for their simplicity, till he retired to his district for health reasons. Kunjunni died in his ancestral house at Valapad on 26 March 2006.
He was known and admired for living a humble life with minimal needs, and few comforts or luxuries.
He was known for writing short poems which appeared to be childlike in form, but conveyed a message. Kunjunni handled the column for children in the Mathrubhumi weekly under the pseudonym “Kuttettan”. He initiated three or four generations of aspiring writers into writing. Kunjunni returned to his native village in 1987 and became involved in social and cultural activities in the Thrissur area. He appeared in Bhoomi Geetham, a 1993 film directed by Kamal. His autobiography, Enniloode, is noted for its candour, humour and simplicity. Oridathu Oridathu Oru Kunjunni Mash is a biography of the poet, written by Sippy Pallippuram.