Once upon a time in Kerala, there lived a beautiful young maiden named Sreedevi. She was infatuated with a young man named Raman, who was a palanquin bearer. She used to watch him carry all the famed landlords and aristocrats. She watched from a distance and adored his well-built body. She wrote and sang poems about his strength while doing all her chores.
Sreedevi: Oh Raman! How I wish your strong arms would hold me. How can I make you mine? Are you secretly a Gandharva who descended from the heavens above?
She made up her mind to express her feelings to him. Her friend Gayatri opposed the idea.
Gayatri: Sreedevi get a hold of yourself. You are a courtesan who must please the landlords and wealthy kings. There should not be a man in your life. Those are for the gentlefolk.
Sreedevi: Gayatri, you have always been an obedient girl. You would not understand the rebellious nature of love. I will follow him tomorrow after sunset. I will go after him to his hut. I will tell him.
Gayatri was shocked at the determination of Sreedevi. No one even knew anything about Raman. Only that he was a palanquin bearer and was from the neighboring village.
She finished her work for the day and ran off into the darkness. Raman had collected his wages from the landlord Nandan Thampuran’s house. He packed his belongings and started walking to his village. Sreedevi followed him slowly through the moonlit path. The distant cries of all the beasts in the forest filled the air.
She kept on looking for the bare and muscular shoulders of Raman. She felt a strange sense of energy when she got a glimpse of him. After kilometers and kilometers of walking, Raman finally reached his hut near the forest.
Sreedevi quickly hid behind the tall trees as she did not want Raman to see her. The lamp in the house was already lit. She peered through the trees to see what Raman was doing. Raman was greeted by his wife, who prepared some food for him. Raman sat outside and finished his meal. Sreedevi watched to her horror as both husband and wife embraced each other.
Sreedevi: He is mine and mine only! I will make him mine somehow.
She decided to answer the order of Nandan Thampuran for becoming his concubine for a month. She could interact with Raman this way. Raman was given the job of picking her up in the palanquin and taking her to the Thamburan’s house. She started taking advantage of his duty.
Sreedevi: Rama, you can be mine. Whatever treasures I receive from the kings and landlords are yours. Just be mine!
Sreedevi: How dare you speak back to me, you dog! You will obey me. You will not command me. I give you this freedom because I adore you.
Raman: It is quite sad to see that we are equals. You are nothing above me. So stop bothering me or else I will throw you out of the palanquin.
This enraged Sreedevi. She made demands to have Kunjunni, the second palanquin bearer, removed. She was transported in a cart, which was pulled by Raman. He was forced to obey each command. Whatever dissent shown by him was reciprocated with whippings. But still, he remained loyal to his wife, Amba.
He expressed his discomfort to Sreedevi’s brother, Govindan. They were really close friends, but he could not do anything as the Thamburan was a puppet in Sreedevi’s hands. She used to mentally and physically torture Raman to become hers. Govindan decided to accompany her during these visits, as he could not bear to see his dear friend in this circle of endless torture.
Sreedevi decided to get rid of Amba. She decided to learn how to become an Odiyan. An Odiyan was a black magician that could disguise themselves as anything. She decided to become an Odiyan so that she could scare Amba to death. For that, she had to meet the local black magician Maniyan.
Maniyan was chewing some betel nut leaves when he was approached by Sreedevi. Stunned by the beauty of Sreedevi, Maniyan asked her why she was here. She explained her plan to him.
Maniyan: I can do this work for you. I know that Amba is afraid of wolves. I can transform into the biggest wolf ever!
Sreedevi: No, that is not enough Odiyan Mani, I need to learn Odividya. You will teach me how to transform into an Odiyan. In return, I will pay you whatever you want.
Maniyan: I cannot teach you. Women cannot become Odiyans.
Sreedevi: If I have a wish, you are no one to instruct me. You will teach me, or else watch as I make your whole clan suffer.
Maniyan: Alright Thamburatti. My ancestors started this black magic to work for all the landlords and kings who wanted their enemies killed. But if you demand so, I will have to obey you.