Thursday, September 10, 2009


I am trying to remember serenity of my small town far away from thechaos and confusions of a crowded city. A town on a hillock on the leeway side of the western ghats. I always think of those mountains to be purple in colour under a clear blue, breathtaking sky. Here on thehills, a few gentlemen began building houses in the late 1960s. Every town has its own character. My town's character is in those single-storied, semi-circular houses with a pillar or two in front anda grilled, large semi-circular window, with a long glass panel runningthe length of the house. My grandpa, one of the founders of the town,had one such airy, lovely home in which most of us lived ourchildhood.

Apart from the lullabies of my aunts and my teacher mom, my child'seyes must have browsed through a daily and a magazine to which mygrandpa subscribed for decades. I began my career in journalism withthe same daily `Dinamani', an anti-establishment paper, steeped inethics. Now, you know that I was initiated into journalism very earlyin life. Surprisingly, I have seen that magazine only by my grandfather's bedside. It had the title `Dharma Chakra'. After half-a-life, I am more or less certain that Dharma is not to be found easily anywhere or in anyone. As a boy, I have read a few passages from that magazine. I think there were articles on goodness of being, the beautyof life, eternal thirst for spirituality and the more importantly the moral code of conduct for a man. I feel grandpa kept reading that mag till it went out of print as there were not many subscribers. That morality though is still shining in him for us to follow.

There are few other traits of our grandpa that many of us must haveinherited knowingly or unknowingly. To me, `Thaneer Pandal' is one of the noblest act of my clan. This makeshift `pandal' is laid on the road to the temple on the local festive day and as children we revelled in the coconut groves and found happiness in giving water,butter-milkand the chocolate coloured sweet drink called `panakaram' to thepassers-by. In simple words, we discovered the art of giving under that thatched pandal.

What do you do as children? Chat, talk and yell, all the time. OnSaturdays, grandpa had this habit of observing the silent penance. Itmeans he will not talk the entire day. As children, we found it funny. It even gave us the freedom to dare him, a stoic. We would run for cover and at times out of the house whenever we saw anger in his eyes at our stupid, childish pranks. Only later in life that we realized the power and magnificence of silence, the self's key to realization.
Another door opened.

Even now, my generation cherishes its unforgettable images from thatornate home. The festive seasons, especially the deepavalis, breakingthe windows at will playing cricket only to see a red-faced grandpa chasing us out of the house, the big, black-eyed girls learning bharatanatyam, the countless hours of television watching, the elaborate arrangements of toys during navarathri festival, and the moonlit dinner nights at the courtyard behind the house and the starry, singing nights on the terrace. We never knew we lived in perfect happiness, bordering bliss.

Then there are the other images like my grandpa doing his morning pujas, his apple-eating style, khadi dressing, the stoic way he sat athis textile shop, the pride with which he drove in a blue Fiat to manage a college, his near death experience before the brain surgery, his morning walks, the scare on his head, not to forget the radianceof his spirit.

There are many, many images from that blessed home. Nothing will endure the image of a frail looking woman, his compassionate partner in life, sitting somewhere and silently observing the happenings in the house. Not many would have credited her with the way the family members has succeeded in many fronts. If no one knew, she is the secret of the family. I am not sure if her very own daughters know it as they, like the town, are in awe of grandpa, a classical example of rags-to-riches story. My grandpa may know all about success. She seldom shows happiness. It manifests itself in her face whenever shesees her grand-children. She is the source of life. She is the soul of the family. My grandma (avva in telugu and patti in tamil), sure knows all the crevices creeping toward the doors of happiness. In her are the rich traits of an anonymous, under-rated Indian woman who silently prays and cares for everyone in the clan. Tell me, why will not a man succeed if his wife has never ever questioned him but has accepted him as he is.

Ageing though is a loving treatise of life. Watching my grandma telling her respected husband for six decades to shut up or asking himto stop watching news to allow the great-grand children watch cartoons and him tending to her needs by giving her the required pills to put her to sleep, taking her hand in hand when she is weak for a stroll inthe house, in essence, living a new life, contrary to the previous life from their prime, you are filled with a rare warmth and tenderness to life as a whole.

Of late, I think I was the first one to be born and brought up ingrandma's new house in the early seventies as I always dream of owning a spacious, well-lit house with a few trees breathing into it with children playing all around. Often, I long to go back to my little town to settle down for a peaceful life. A life not mechanical but with memories and melancholies to liven up the soul. This particular saying keeps resonating in me. There is nothing morebeautiful than being in your own home town, to sprout like a banyan tree, with the aerial roots feeling the winds of seasons, a light heart so pure that it looks up to the limitless expanse of the blue sky as the actual roots breath beneath the moistness of earth, spreading out and sprouting all the time. In our home, we have this peepal tree, the sacred fig, intertwined with the banyan tree.

Blessed, naturally.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

இன்றிரவு நான் எழுதுவேன்

இன்றிரவு நான் எழுதுவேன் துயரமிகு வரிகளை

எழுதுவேன், உதாரணத்திற்கு, `இந்த இரவு நட்சத்திரங்களால் ஜொலிக்கிறது
அந் நட்சத்திரங்கள் நீல நிறத்தில் நடுங்குகின்ற்ன தொலை தூரத்தில்.’

இரவின் காற்று வானத்தில் சுழன்று இசைக்கிறது.

இன்றிரவு நான் எழுதுவேன் துயரமிகு வரிகளை
நான் அவளைக் காதலித்தேன், சில நேரங்களில் அவளும் என்னைக் காதலித்தாள்

இதைப் போன்ற இரவு நேரத்தில் ஒரு நாள் என் கைகளில் ஏந்தியிருந்தேன்
அவளை முத்தமிட்டேன் மீண்டும் மீண்டும் எல்லையற்ற வானத்தின் கீழ். 

அவள் என்னைக் காதலித்தாள், சில நேரங்களில் நானும் அவளைக் காதலித்தேன்
எவ்வாறு ஒருவன் காதல் வயப்படாமல் இருக்க முடியும் அவளின் பெரிய, சலனமற்ற விழிகளால். 

இன்றிரவு நான் எழுதுவேன் துயரமிகு வரிகளை
அவள் என்னுடன் இல்லை என்றெண்ணும் பொழுது, அவளை இழந்துவிட்டேன் என்றுணரும் பொழுது.

அவள் இல்லாமல் விரிந்திருக்கும் இவ்விரவைக் கேட்கும் பொழுது
கவிதை விழுகிறது ஆன்மாவில் பச்சையை நோக்கிப் பாயும் பனித் துளிபோல்

எது முக்கியம் ஏன் என் காதல் அவளைக் கட்டிப்போடவில்லை
வானம் வின்மீண்களால் ஜொலிக்கிறது ஆனால் அவள் என்னுடன் இல்லை.

இதுவே முழுமை. தூரத்தில் யாரோ பாடுகிறார்கள் வெகு தூரத்தில்
என் ஆன்மாவில் திருப்தி இல்லை அவளை இழந்து 

என் விழிகள் தேடுகின்றன அவளை அருகில் அழைத்து வந்துவிடுவதுபோல்
என் இதயம் தேடுகிறது அவளை ஆனால் அவள் என்னுடன் இல்லை. 

அதே இரவு வெண்ணிறமாக்குகிறது அதே மரங்களை
நாங்கள், அன்றிருந்தது போல் இன்று இல்லை

இன்னும் நான் அவளை நேசிக்கவில்லை, இது உண்மை, ஆனால் நான் அவளை எவ்வளவு காதலித்தேன்
என் குரல் காற்றைப் பிடிக்க முயன்றது அவள் செவிகளைத் தொட 

வேறு ஒருவனுடையவள். அவள் வேறு ஒருவனுடைய்வளாவாள். என் முத்தங்களுக்கு முந்தியிருந்த அவள் 
அவள் குரல், அவளின் வெண் தேகம். அவளின் முடிவற்ற கண்கள்.

இன்னும் நான் அவளை நேசிக்கவில்லை, இது உண்மை, ஆனால் ஒருக்கால் நான் அவளைக் காதலிக்கலாம்
காதல் மிகச் சிறிது, மறப்பது மிகப் பெரிது

இதைப் போன்ற இரவு நேரத்தில் அவளை என் கைகளில் ஏந்தியிருந்ததால்
என் ஆன்மாவில் திருப்தி இல்லை அவளை இழந்து

இதுவே அவளால் துன்புற்று அனுபவிக்கும் இறுதி வலி
இவையே நான் அவளுக்கு எழுதும் இறுதி வரிகள்.

Stories From The Soul Town

There lies a magical land. Surrounded by the green ghats to the west, gurgling great rivers on the east, the valley with the very blue sky. A temple town of the tamils. Sitting on the dancing rock on the highland overlooking the valley, the writer procreates the lives of the people of this lesser known south west. Full of strange yet simple souls.