R Venkataramanan

R Venkataramanan

R Venkat's Blog

R Venkat's Blog
"To be an Inspiring Teacher,one should be a Disciplined Student throughout Life" - Venkataramanan Ramasethu

SNK

SNK

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Idumban Kari

We left Azlvar-adiyan, also known as Thirumalai, at the
ferry landing near Kollidam. Let us consider that
Vaishnava zealot once again.
When Vandiya Devan sat upon his horse and rode away
towards Kudanthai, Mr. Thirumalai started mumbling
these words to himself: "This youth is very sharp. If I
enter through the sieve he squeezes in through the floor
decoration. I have not been able to find the truth about
whose man he is, or why and where he is going. I don't
know if he was part of the treasonable meeting at
Kadamboor Fort. Luckily, I mentioned the Astrologer of
Kudanthai to him! Let us see if that old man can find out
what I could not ..."
"Hello Sir! Are you talking to that ficus tree -- or, are you
talking to yourself?" Hearing a voice behind him, Mr.
Thirumalai turned around. The servant who had come from
Kadamboor and procured the horse for Vandiya Devan,
was standing there.
"My good man! Are you asking me? I wasn't talking to
myself; neither was I talking to the tree. I had a little
discussion with a vampire sitting upon this tree," said Mr.
Thirumalai.
"Oh! Is that so, Sir! Is the vampire of the Saiva sect or of
the Vaishnava sect?" asked that good man.
"That's what I was trying to find out. You interrupted and
now the vampire has disappeared. ... Let him go! ... What
is your name, my good man?"
"Why do you ask, Sir?"
"You saved us in the middle of the Kollidam by preventing
the ferry-boat from overturning. Shouldn't I remember a
commendable fellow like you?
"My name ... My name ... is Idumban Kari, Sir." He said it
with some hesitation.
"Oh! Idumban Kari? I have heard it somewhere ...
before..."
At that time Idumban Kari did something very peculiar!
He placed the spreading palms of both his hands one upon
the other, and wriggled his thumbs. As he did this, he
looked at Azlvar-adiyan's face.
"My dear man! What is this sign? I don't understand ...?"
Idumban Kari's dark face darkened further. His eyebrows
drew close in exasperation. "I? I didn't make any sign," he
said.
"You did. You did do so. I saw it. Exponents of the
classical dance Bharata Natyam, hold a certain posture
when they represent the first incarnation of God Vishnu;
you did something like that."
"The first incarnation of Vishnu? What is that, Sir? I don't
know?"
"Don't you know of Thirumal's first incarnation? The
Pisces!"
"Are you talking about fish?"
"Yes. My dear man! yes!"
"Very good Sir! Your eyes are something special! On an
ordinary tree you can see a vampire and empty hands look
like the fish incarnation. Perhaps, Sir, you have an extra
fondness for fish!"
"No. No. No such thing my dear man! Don't sidetrack me.
If you wish, let us drop the matter. But tell me this: do you
remember that radical Saiva fellow who came with us in
the boat? Do you know where he went?"
"Do I know? Oh yes. I saw him; he came along the same
road when I went to buy the horse. He kept cursing you all
along the way ..."
"What did he say?"
"He said that if he sees you again he would cut off your
topknot and shave your head and ..."
"Ah! Does he know the barber's trade?"
"He said that he would wipe out all the namam marks of
your sect from your body and cover you with ashes!"
"Is that so? Then, I must surely meet him. Do you know
the name of his home-town?"
"He said that it was Pullirukum Vellur, Sir."
"Everything else must wait till I meet that zealot! My good
man, where are you going now? Will you be coming in
that direction?"
"No. No. Why should I go there? I have to cross the
Kollidam and go back to Kadamboor. Won't the master
pluck my eyes out, if I don't show up?"
"If that is so, go quickly my man! See, the ferry-boat is
about to leave."
Idumban Kari looked back; what Azlvar-adiyan said was
true. The ferry-boat was about to leave.
"That's fine Sir. I shall leave immediately." After uttering
these words he started walking quickly down the
embankment, towards the ferry landing. He looked back
once, when he was half way down. By then Azlvar-adiyan
had done a strange thing: he quickly climbed the ficus tree
on the shore and reached the topmost branches of that huge
tree. Idumban Kari could not see him.
Idumban reached the ferry landing and stopped. "Are you
coming back to the other shore?" asked a boatman.
"No. I shall come in the next ferry. You can go," said
Idumban Kari.
"Ah! Is that all? The way you came running down, I
thought you wanted to catch this boat!" The boatman
pushed his long pole into the water; the ferry slid into the
deeps currents.
By now Azlvar-adiyan had climbed into the thickest
branches of the tree and completely concealed himself.
Aha! I thought correctly! This fellow did not go in that
boat. He is going to come back. I must see where he goes
and what he does next. I clearly saw his hands make the
sign of the fish. What does it mean? Fish! Fish! Fish ...!
What is represented by the sign of the fish? Ah! isn't the
fish a symbol on the Pandiya flag? Perhaps, ha! ... Could it
be so? Let us wait ... Let me wait with some patience. The
patient ones shall inherit the fields; the hasty will get the
forest! But these days it seems better to inherit the forest
than the field. Anyway let me be patient... Azlvar-adiyan
shared these thoughts with the invisible vampire in the
tree.
Soon, his expectations came true. The ferry-boat left
without Idumban Kari. Idumban looked up at the ficus tree
from where he stood. His eyes searched in all directions.
After making sure that Azlvar-adiyan was nowhere in sight
he came back to the same spot under the tree. His eyes
searched around once again before he sat down. His eyes
kept looking hither and thither as if searching for someone
or something. But, he did not look up into the branches of
the tree. Even if he had looked up he would not have
spotted Azlvar-adiyan easily for Thirumalai had hidden
himself well.
About an hour passed in this fashion. Azlvar-adiyan's legs
began turning numb. He could not remain hidden amidst
the tree branches much longer. Idumban Kari did not
appear as if he was about to leave soon. How to escape?
However carefully he descended on the other side of the
tree, he was sure to make some noise. Idumban Kari would
surely see him. He had a sharp knife thrust in his
waistband. What guarantee that he would not use it?
What can I do? Shall I make horrible noises like a ghost or
demon and jump down on him? If I jump like that he may
think that the vampire is attacking him and fall down in a
faint or run away. I can then run away and escape! ...
When Thirumalai Nambi Azlvar-adiyan was considering
these options, it seemed as if his patience would be
rewarded.
A man could be seen walking up from the south west i.e.,
the Kudanthai road. Thirumalai's intuition warned that
Idumban Kari was waiting for that man. Soon, his intuition
proved to be right.
Upon seeing the new man, Idumban Kari stood up. The
newcomer made a sign like the one Idumban had made
before. That is, he placed the palm of one hand upon the
other and wriggled his thumbs, making the sign of the fish.
On seeing it, Idumban made a similar sign with his hands.
"What is your name?" asked the newcomer.
"My name is Idumban Kari. What is yours, Sir?"
"Soman Samban."
"I was expecting you, Sir!"
"I too came in search of you."
"Where should we go?"
"Westward!"
"Where?"
"To the enemy memorial."
"Near Thiru-puram-biyam ... "
"Don't talk so loudly. If someone hears it?"
"There is no one here. I looked."
"If someone is hiding near-abouts?"
"Impossible."
"OK. Let us leave. I don't know the way very well. You go
first. I shall follow you at a little distance. Stop and make
sure that I am following you as you go on."
"Fine. It is not a good road. The path is full of stones and
thorns. We have to walk through forest and thicket. Watch
and walk carefully."
"That's alright. You leave now. Even if it is a forest path,
hide if you see anyone. Understand?"
"Yes. I know."
Idumban Kari started walking westward along the banks of
the Kollidam. Soman Samban followed him a little later.
Azlvar-adiyan waited on the tree till both were hidden
from his sight. He had watched and heard everything!
"Ah ha! These are bad times! All sorts of unexpected
things are happening. I think I am going to find out about
some mysterious activity. God's grace has given me the
opportunity to find out. Now, getting details depends on
my resource-fulness. I could not get all the details at
Kadamboor. I should not be thwarted like that again.
Thiru-puram-biyam Memorial means they are talking
about the memorial temple for the Ganga King Prithvipathi.
It is more than a hundred years since that memorial
was built. It is now dilapidated! The forest has encroached
and surrounded that area. The village is quite away from
the memorial.
"Why are these men going there? If the matter is to be
discussed between these two, they would have talked about
it here itself. There is no need to walk a league along a
forest path. I am sure some others are likely to come to that
spot. Why? Why did one of them refer to the memorial of
King Prithvi-pathi as `The enemy memorial'? Whose
enemy was Ganga Prithvi-pathi? Yes! My surmise is likely
to be true. Anyway let me find out. They have walked
along the banks of the Kollidam. I shall walk along the River Manni. It doesn't matter if the forest is thicker along
the banks of the Manni. Why should I bother about the
forest and hills or the stones and thorns. I am used to them
-- They have to be afraid of me!"
Muttering these words and thinking such thoughts, Azlvaradiyan
descended the ficus tree and went a little
southward. He came to the banks of the River Manni and
started walking west. He walked through forests meeting
no one on the way and by about sunset he reached the
memorial temple near Thiru-puram-biyam.