Sunday, 24 August 2014

Chapter 4: In the Midnight

After a simple dinner at Poonguzhali’s house, Vandiya Devan sought her father’s help to go to Eelangai. However Thyaga Vidakaraiyar expressed his regrets. “Once there were many boats banked in this beach but now they all have gone to Sethu Karai to help our army cross the sea to Eelangai. I own two boats and my son has taken two men to Eelangai and I do not know when he will return. What do I do?”

“Who were those men? Your daughter said that they seemed strange.”

“Yes. They were strange and I didn’t like them too. I do not know who they were and why they were going to Eelangai. They had the Pazhuvur signet ring with them but despite that I wouldn’t have asked my son to go. But my daughter-in-law is very greedy and when they gave a bag full of gold coins, she urged my son to take them…”

“Ayya! How can this be? How can your son listen to a woman who has no knowledge about anything?” he asked and then added hesitantly, “I am sorry. This is your family matter and I have no right to judge anybody.”

“Thambi! There is nothing wrong with what you said. There is a curse on my family. My son…” he said hesitantly

Vandiya Devan remembered Senthan Amuthan’s description about his family.

“Is your son deaf and mute?”

“Aha! How did you know?

Vandiya Devan then told him about how he had met Senthan Amuthan and had stayed at his home in Thanjavur.

“Aha! So you are that man? I got news about your escape days ago and I also heard that Pazhuvur soldiers are searching for you everywhere.”

“Maybe. I don’t know.”

“Now I know why you are in such a hurry to go to Eelangai.”

“Ayya! I am not going to Eelangai to escape from the Pazhuvur soldiers. I am bearing a message for a very important person in Eelangai. If you do not believe me, I can show it to you.”

“That’s unnecessary Thambi! I trust Elaya Piratti’s words more than anything else. However I still can’t help you with a boat.”

“Ayya! You said you had two boats.”

“Yes. Boat is there but there is no one to ferry you to Eelangai. If you and your friend know how to use it, you are free to take it.”

“But we do not know how to ferry the boat and that too in the middle of the sea. Moreover, I do not know how to swim properly in the first place. And I am a bit scared of water too…”

“Even if you knew how to swim, ferrying a boat in the sea needs a lot of skill and those without any experience cannot go alone.”

“And I am not taking the physician’s son along with me to Eelangai. He will be staying here, collecting medicinal herbs. Ayya! You will have to help me somehow.”

“Only one person can help you. But I am not sure if it would be possible. It will be very difficult to convince…however if you happen to be lucky it might even work. Who knows?”

“Ayya! Please tell me who it is? I will try and talk to this person.”

“In Kodi Karai, you will not find anybody as skilled as Poonguzhali. She is very experienced in the sea and has gone to Eelangai many times. I will ask her if she is willing to take you. You also try and ask her when you get the chance.”

“Ayya! Please call her now. We can ask her.”

“No. She is a very wilful girl. If she says ‘no’ right now then nothing in this world can change her decision. Tomorrow, I will speak with her at the right moment. You can also try your luck.” Said Thyaga Vidakaraiyar and went towards the lighthouse.

That night, Vandiya Devan lay down to sleep at the verandah of Poonguzhali’s house. His companion, the physician’s son was already asleep. Saddle sore and bone weary, Vandiya Devan too drifted off to sleep but he woke up with a start when he heard the front door of the house opening. Someone came out of the house and walked out briskly and from the light of the lighthouse Vandiya Devan was able to discern that it was Poonguzhali.

‘Where is she going at this hour?’ Thought Vandiya Devan. When she had playfully invited him to come along with her in the middle of the night, he had thought that she was joking. But no she was really leaving the house in the middle of the night. ‘I will show you my lovers.’ She had said. Could that be true? Could she really have more than one lover? There is some mystery in all this. Let me follow her and find the truth. I will need her help to go to Eelangai and tomorrow I will need to convince her to take me in her boat. Who knows? Maybe she will get into some danger in these woods and I could save her from it. That might make her more amenable to help me.

Vandiya Devan rose silently and followed her carefully. He couldn’t forget the dread that he had felt when he had stepped into the quicksand so he followed her swiftly without losing sight of her.

The area around the lighthouse and the beach was alight with light and it was easy to follow her here but when she entered the woods, Vandiya Devan struggled to keep up after her as she started walking very fast. Through the wild terrain of the forest, the ground was uneven in many places, Poonguzhali who was familiar with the place, walked through it confidently while Vandiya Devan found it difficult to keep her within his line of sight. He climbed a large mound of sand and found her walking below but she suddenly vanished!

Surprised and shocked to have lost her thus, Vandiya Devan got down from the mound. How could she vanish like that? Is this some kind of magic? Could she perhaps have fallen into a pit? He reached the place where she had vanished and looked around. Looking carefully, he found out that there was a small path that wound its way down towards a thick grove of trees. But it was so dark that he couldn’t see his way in the darkness. The windy woods assumed a terrible form and he found himself comparing its trees to formless ghosts and wraiths. The dark shadows of the trees looked menacingly at him even as he contemplated his next move. Vandiya Devan lost his nerve and decided to go back home. Who knows what dangers these woods may hide? Vicious beasts, poisonous snakes might be lurking behind these shadows to attack me. Cheetah or a leopard might pounce from one of these trees too! What foolishness is this? Why didn’t I bring my spear along?

What’s that noise? Who could that be? Who is that standing on that tree? Vandiya Devan’s legs started trembling even as he started recollecting all the ghost stories that he had heard from his childhood. Why are we still here? Let us get back to the house.

Even as he thought of turning back he heard a voice. It was a beautiful voice that sang a hauntingly poignant song.

Vandiya Devan went ahead through the path and followed the direction of Poonguzhali’s song. As the path meandered towards the peak of the mound, he could see her standing on the top, singing even as she looked at the stars. One of the stars that dotted the sky was the long dhoomketu (comet). Her mesmerizing voice and still woods nestled under the stars seemed surrealistic to Vandiya Devan.

He stood right behind her and from the top of the mound, the distant glow of the lighthouse and the dark rolling beach waves were also seen.
Vandiya Devan and Poonguzhali
“Oh! You have come after all. When I last saw, you were sleeping like Kumbakarnan.” She asked.

“I woke up when I heard the door open and then I saw you. You walked so fast and didn’t even look back. It is so difficult to follow you.”

“Why did you follow me?”

“Good question! Don’t you remember, it was you who asked me to come along?”

“Did I? Do you remember why?”

“Of course. You said that you would show me your lovers. So where are they?”

“Look behind you. They are there.” She said.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Chapter 3 – A Girl’s Madness

The sky was dotted with thousands of twinkling stars. A lovely half moon rose up on the sky near the sea’s horizon as moon beams danced on the sea waves. It was a beautiful sight worthy enough for a poet to describe. Sadly for Vandiya Devan there were mundane things to do, like washing off the mud.

“Why are you standing? Go and wash the mud. I have to go home or else my anni will not give me any food tonight.”

“Is the sea very deep here?” he asked timidly.

“I haven’t seen a faint-hearted soldier like you before. The sea here is very shallow. You can go all the way to the middle of the sea and find that the water just comes up to your hips. That’s why we have to light up the lighthouse to warn the ships to stay away.”

Vandiya Devan got into the water after much hesitation. After washing himself quickly, he walked over to her wringing his clothes dry. Just then, he noticed his companion, the physician’s son coming towards him in the beach along with the horses.

“Ayyo! He is coming here with the horses. What if they get stuck in the quick sand?”

“Go and warn him.” Said Poonguzhali walking after him as he ran towards the horses warning them to stay away.

When Poonguzhali joined them, she found Vandiya Devan holding the horse’s rein. She caressed the horse and spoke something to it that made it inch closer to her.

“My horse seems to like you. That’s good.”

“Why is it good?”

“I have to go to Eelangai. I thought I would leave this horse here with you. Will you look after it?”

“Yes. I will look after it. All animals like me. Its only the human beings who don’t.”

“Why do you say that? Senthan Amuthan has completely lost…”

“That’s because I prefer the company of animals to humans.”

“What harm did human beings do to you?”

“Humans and men in general are ungracious rogues. They are all full of lies and deceit.”

“You should not think about all men like this. I have known Senthan Amuthan to be a good man. And my companion here, the physician’s son is also a good man…”

“What about you?”

“I am also a good man. But it would be odd to talk good things about myself.”

“Why are you both here?”

“The Chakravarthy is not well. We have been sent here to gather rare medicinal herbs to make a potent medicine that would cure the king. That’s why the chief physician at Pazhaiarai has sent us.”

“You said that you would be going to Eelangai as well…”

“The herbs that are not available here will need to be brought from Eelangai. Which is why I am going there. It seems that a portion of Sanjeevini mountain that was brought by Hanuman is still in Eelangai.”

“Yes. That’s right. And that’s probably hundreds of people are dying there due to shivering fever.”

“Is that so? I didn’t know this. And I doubt if that Pazhaiarai physician also knew about this.”

“It seems that lying is a habitual occupation of all men. Two days ago, two men came here. They too lied, when asked as to why they wanted to go to Eelangai. But their lies were believable to some extent.”

“Who were they? What did they lie about?”

“They said that they were sent here by some mandiravadi. They wanted to go to Eelangai to get a tiger’s claw and an elephant’s tail hair to make a protective talisman for the king. My brother took them to Eelangai in his boat.”

“Oh! Is that so?” said Vandiya Devan. He was reminded of yet another mandiravadi that he had known briefly.

My God! Why did I get stuck in this murky business of carrying messages and spying? Compared to this, warring with the enemies in the battlefield is quite straightforward.

Who would be those two men who had left for Eelangai two days ago? How far can we trust this girl? What if she too is a part of that mandiravadi’s gang? No. No. She is an innocent girl. I might need her help in future so it is better to be friends with her.

“Poonguzhali! Let me to tell you the truth. I am going to Eelangai on an important and secret mission. I would like to tell you about it…”

“No don’t. Don’t you know, that women can’t be trusted with important and secret information?”

“Yes. They say so about other ordinary women in the world. But you are not an ordinary woman.”

“Says who? You have known me for precisely one hour now.”

“Poonguzhali! The minute I saw you sitting on the temple wall, I really liked you. I want to ask you something but you should give me a truthful answer.”


“Is Senthan Amuthan truly not your lover? Will you not marry him?”

“Why do you ask?”

“Senthan Amuthan is my friend. I will not act in any way that would harm our friendship. But if he is not your lover…”

“Continue… why do you hesitate?”

“If he is not your lover, I would like to fill in that vacant position. Poonguzhali! There is no feeling more divine than true love in this world. Even people like Appar, Sundarar and Sambandar sang their verses looking at God as their lover. So many great poets have sung such beautiful songs about love. Can anything compare with Kalidasan’s divine verses of love? Even Krishna got entangled in love with his gopis…”

Ayya! Let me tell you one thing. Please listen to me.”

“Tell me.”

“I do like you and it doesn’t disgust me to look at you either but…”

“Thank God! I am very lucky.”

“But do not talk about ‘love’ or anything related to that with me.”

“Why? Why?”

“Senthan Amuthan is not my lover but I have other lovers…”

“Other lovers? Who? How many? Where?”

“In the midnight, I normally go to meet them. You can come with me if you want and I will show them to you.” She said and laughed.

Her laughter disturbed Vandiya Devan greatly. He thought to himself, ‘Looks like this girl is mad. I don’t think she would help my mission in anyway. It’s better not to tell her anything.’

They had by then reached the houses that stood near the lighthouse. Hearing them approach, an old man and a woman came out of the house.

Poonguzhali brings Vandiya Devan home

“Poonguzhali! Who are these men? Where did you find them?”

“I didn’t find them appa! They found me.”

“It’s all the same. I have told you so many times to come back home before it gets dark. Do you ever listen? Two days ago, you got two strangers here and today as well. Why are they here?”

“They have come here to search for medicinal herbs to make a medicine for the king, appa!”

Ayya! Is that correct?”

“Yes. Here is a message from the royal scribe of Pazhaiarai.” Said Vandiya Devan and took out the message. And while he was at it, another oolai fell down from his waistcloth. He picked it hurriedly, angry with himself and muttered, ‘I am such a fool.’

Poonguzhali’s father took the oolai and read it in the light of the lighthouse. He turned towards his wife and said, “This is a message from Elaya Piratti. These men are here on royal business. We need to give them food and shelter. Go and tell your daughter-in-law to keep enough food for them.”

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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Chapter 2 – The Quicksand

Vandiya Devan chased the girl through the thick forest. Nimble and quick, she skirted through trees, pits and mounds and would vanish from his line of sight for a while and just when he was ready to give up she would appear again. Vandiya Devan was reminded of the magical deer that Lord Rama had to chase in Pachavati. My god! This girl is not a magical deer but she has all the swiftness and the grace of a deer. And just as he was thinking about her, he also wondered why he was chasing her in the first place. To justify his actions, he also imagined a reason for it. Even as he neared Kodi Karai he was reminded of Senthan Amuthan’s description about Poonguzhali. This must be Poonguzhali, his uncle’s daughter. It might be beneficial to make friends with her and he also needed a guide to take him to the lighthouse.

Though the lighthouse was visible at a distance, he had found it difficult to approach the place once they got into the forest. Confused and disoriented, he and the physician’s son were roaming aimlessly when they came upon Poonguzhali at the temple. He had wanted to ask her for directions to go to the lighthouse but before he could open his mouth, she had started running.

What to do now? Shall we leave her and go back? But he didn’t want to acknowledge to himself that a girl had bested him in running either!

Even while he thought thus, they came out of the woods and he could see the beach ahead and the calm sea. What a glorious sight! The lighthouse was also visible and lighted with fire. Shall I leave this girl and go towards the lighthouse?

No. It will be easier to catch her in this beach and moreover she was running towards the beach. How long can she run there, he reasoned? What if she was a sea nymph? Will she disappear when she reaches the water? He regretted not bringing his horse here. Astride on the horse, he would have caught her within no time!

Running wildly after her, he saw that she had stopped running abruptly ahead of him and had turned left and was running towards the woods again. With his legs protesting loudly and breath rasping, he gave chase after her. What would she say if he caught hold of her and said, “Girl, Stop running! I have got a message from your lover in Thanjavur.” How surprised will she be? While it was true that Senthan Amuthan did not send any message to her but what of it? He just needed to give his imagination a free rein!

Thinking thus, he sprang after her hoping to catch her before she disappeared again. He didn’t know what happened exactly but found himself shouting, “Ayyo!” It took him a moment to realize what had happened. He found himself drowning in mud and he was going down on the quick sand.

My God! How did this happen? How did I end up here? The place looked dry enough when he had stepped on it but looks are deceptive. Vandiya Devan had heard of quicksand near beaches and marshy areas that have swallowed even elephants! To his horror, he realized that he was fast sinking and had nothing to hold himself and hoist up. What will happen now? What will happen to my dreams? He realized that only Poonguzhali could save him now. He shouted loudly, “Ayyo! I am dying. I am drowning in this muddy quicksand. Please save me!”

Poonguzhali stopped running and turned around. She noted his dangerous situation and decided to help him. There was a half sunken boat on the quicksand pool. She got on it nimbly and came to the other side of the pool. Bracing her legs on the hard floor, she reached out and held her hand to Vandiya Devan. Her seemingly lean arms had an iron grip that belied her slight figure. Vandiya Devan was astonished by her strength and compared it with that of Chinna Pazhuvetrayar’s iron grip.


After he came out of the quicksand, he laughed out aloud though his legs were trembling.

“Do you really think that you saved me from that quicksand? Did you perhaps think that I wouldn’t have come out of it without your help?” he asked her cheekily.

“Then why were screaming, ‘ayyo’ ‘ayyo’? asked Poonguzhali looking peeved.

  “To stop you from running.”

“Really! Then let me push you back in that quicksand. This time around, you can rescue yourself,” saying this she tried to push him back

“Ayyayo!” shouted Vandiya Devan and moved away from her warily.

“What are you scared of now?”

“I am not scared for my life but I don’t want to get muddy again. As such, I am half drowned in mud.”

Poonguzhali smiled at him and said, “There is the sea, go and wash yourself there.

“Only if you can come with me as a guide.” Said Vandiya Devan and they both started walking towards the beach.

“Why did you run so wildly after looking at me? Did you perchance think that I was some demon or a vicious ghost?”

“No. I didn’t think you were a demon. I thought you looked like an owl.” She said and laughed.

Vandiya Devan who was vain enough to acknowledge himself to be very handsome found this to be an unpardonable slight from a woman. He got very angry and muttered, “My owl-like face is a perfect match for your monkey-face.”

“What did you say?”

 “Nothing. I just asked why you ran away.”

“Why did you chase after me?”

“I wanted to ask you for directions to go towards the lighthouse.”

“There is the lighthouse. Can’t you see? Why ask me?”

“I couldn’t find the way after entering the woods. That’s why? Why did you run away?”

“Men are vicious beasts. I don’t like them.”

“Even Senthan Amuthan?”


“Thanjavur Senthan Amuthan.”

“What do you know about him?”

“I know that he is your lover.”

“What? What?”

“Your name is Poonguzhali isn’t it?”

“Yes. I am Poonguzhali. What did you just now say about Senthan Amuthan? He is my….”

“I said, ‘He is your lover.’”

Poonguzhali laughed out loud and said, “Who told you this?”

“Who else? Senthan Amuthan told me. “

“Thanjavur is very far away from here, that’s why he must have told you this lie.”


“If he had told this in front of me, I would have buried him in that quicksand.”

“So what? Here is a big beach to wash all that mud off.”

“That quicksand has buried cows, horses and even elephants.”

Vandiya Devan found himself getting goose pimples. He couldn’t forget the sinking sensation he had felt as he found himself drowning within its muddy mouth inch by inch. What if Poonguzhali had not rescued him? By now, he might have been buried there up till his neck! He found himself trembling even as he thought about it.

“What else did Senthan Amuthan say about me?”

“He said that you were his uncle’s daughter and that there is no one to compare your beauty even in Devendran’s court.”

“Looks like your friend has gone all the way to Devendran’s court. What else?”

“He said that you sing very well. He said that when you sing, even the sea listens to your song. Is that true?”

“You will find out soon. Go wash yourself at the beach.” 

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Sunday, 17 August 2014

Volume 2 - The Storm - Chapter 1 - Poonguzhali

With the sea waves weaving in and out of the beach, the dusky evening was peaceful in Kodi Karai. The sky was dotted with birds flying back home across the pristine white sands of the soft beach. The air seemed still in the woods near the beach and the sun was fast sinking behind a veil of clouds.

A small boat made its way towards the shore. A young woman was plying the oars of this boat and she reminds us of Senthan Amuthan’s description of his uncle’s daughter Poonguzhali. Yes. She is indeed Poonguzhali. To justify her beautiful name perhaps, she had decorated her hair with a flower and her lovely curly hair fell in cascades upon her shoulders. She had adorned her neck with a lovely necklace of shells but truly they seemed more pleasing to the eye, only because she wore it.

And what could be more alluring than a beautiful maiden plying a boat? Surely it would be her melodious voice. Sitting languidly on the boat, she sang a haunting song about the sea and it seemed as if the wind stood still to listen to her honeyed voice. Even the sinking sun seemed to be listening to her before it could usher in the night.

Listening to her, one might even wonder what sorrows this young maiden might be hiding in the deepest recess of her heart that seemed to give such a poignant tinge of sadness to her voice.

She was close to the shore by the time, the song ended. She plied her oars mechanically and came near the beach. She nimbly got out of the boat and dragged it behind her and let it rest near the many boats that were left on the beach. Then she looked around the beach and spotted the light on the lighthouse that acted as a beacon and a warning for ships lest they come too near the shore. On the other side of the woods, there was a temple that stood hidden among the many trees that grew there. Two hundred years ago, Sundaramurthy Nayanar had come to Kodikarai Kuzhagar temple and had sung his divine devaram about how Lord Shiva stood alone amidst the sea and the beach.

“My Lord! Why are you here all alone amidst this lonely beach and waves? This place isn’t worthy of you? You are needed in a place where throngs of devotees would place their offerings at your divine feet and not a lonely stretch of beach.“

Kuzhagar Temple Today
Photo Credit:

But even after two hundred years, Kodi Karai still remains a secluded stretch of beach, sand and woods during the time of our story. The thick woods around the temple were full of wild animals and hooting owls, making it more dangerous than it was two hundred years ago. There was however one difference. Two hundred years ago, there was no lighthouse here. It was built during the period of King Paranthakan I and since then the place became a home for a few families who took care of the lighthouse and the temple.

Remains of the Ancient Lighthouse Built by Paranthaka I
Photo Credit:

Poonguzhali looked around her and thought of going towards the lighthouse. Then she saw the temple gopuram of Kuzhagar temple and decided to go there instead. Even as she decided to go there, the temple bells started ringing melodiously. What am I going to do at home so early? Let me visit the temple. I can ask the Pattar to sing the divine devaram songs and then take the prasadam home.

Deciding thus, she walked fast towards the temple. On the way, she saw a herd of deer running towards the forest and among them was a lovely young deer, graceful and childlike. Her enthusiasm crossed all boundaries when she saw the deer. She ran along with them as if she was going to catch them but no matter how fast you run, one cannot really compete with the agility of the deer. The herd outstripped her and ran gracefully ahead of her. 

At one place, all the deer collectively leaped as if they were escaping from a dangerous deep pool. All the big deer leapt safely and reached the other end but the one of the smaller ones fell in the middle. Sinking in the muddy quicksand, it tried to claw its way up but moaned piteously when the attempt failed. The mother deer and the rest of the herd had stopped running and were watching the small deer worriedly but they couldn’t help in anyway.

Poonguzhali immediately set about to help the little dear. She noted carefully where the quicksand ended and approached the place where the little deer was stuck. The deer herd and the mother deer looked at her suspiciously not knowing her intentions. But she cooed at them with a strange sound and that seemed to reassure them. She bent over the quicksand pool and grabbed the little deer’s legs and pulled it to safety. The little deer stood trembling from fear for some time and then turned around and ran to its mother for succour and comfort. Soon the entire herd started running at breakneck speed.

Chi! Such ungrateful creatures!” she exclaimed and then comforted herself saying, “But they are certainly better than the humans who are worse than ungrateful.”

She started walking towards Kuzhagar temple into dense forest. The thick grove of forest was so dense that strangers who are unfamiliar with the terrain can easily get lost and roam around clueless for long. Nestled amidst the trees stood the old temple looking a bit desolate and deserted. She entered the temple and went straight to the inner sanctum. The temple priest looked at her in surprise and smiled. Visitors to the temple was a rare sight for him and among them attractive young boat girls were more than welcome.

After she finished her prayers, the priest gave her a coconut and the divine prasadam to eat and said, “Amma! Will you wait for a while? I will lock the temple and come along with you.”

“I will wait for you Ayya! I am not in a hurry. I can wait until you finish all your work here.”

Saying thus, she came out of the temple and nimbly climbed on one of the trees to hoist herself on the temple walls. Along the walls, there was a statue of Nandi, the bull. Sitting with her back on the considerable bulk of Nandi, she leisurely ate the coconut and the temple prasadam that the priest had given her.


While the darkness enveloped the temple from all around, she suddenly heard horses galloping. She looked intently at the direction of the sound and her heart was stirred with a long-gone memory that threatened to choke her with an indescribable sorrow. Who is coming here? What do I care who it is? There are too many strangers coming around here these days, citing royal duties. Yesterday too, two people had come here wanting to go to Eelangai. They looked so disgusting but Anna took them on his boat after they gave him a bag full of gold coins. May a thunder fall on their money! Who wants money here? What purpose does money serve when you are living amidst a forest? But Anna and Anni’s world revolves around money. They just want more and more!

As the sound of galloping horses came closer, she noted that there were two people coming there. It looked as if they had travelled a long distance and were very weary. The man on the first horse was quite young, handsome, broad chested and looked like a soldier. But when compared with that other face that she had enthroned in her heart, she found him downright ugly. To tell the truth, this man’s face resembles an owl!

As the readers might have guessed, the first man on the horse is our friend and hero, Vandiya Devan. Behind him came the Physician’s son who had accompanied him from Pazhaiarai. They both were saddle sore and travel weary and were ready to rest somewhere. Yet Vandiya Devan’s face bloomed when he saw Poonguzhali lounging atop the temple wall, carelessly eating the coconut. When he saw that she too was looking eagerly at his face, his enthusiasm knew no bounds. He stopped the horse and looked at her with a smile. If he had known that she had been comparing his face to that of an owl, he might not be so enthusiastic to talk to her. Thankfully, God found it worthwhile to make humans hide their innermost thoughts and wishes from others.

When Poonguzhali realized that the man on the horse was staring at her, she immediately got up from the temple wall and jumped down on the soft sand of the temple and started running along the temple wall.

When Vanidya Devan saw her running, he too got down from his horse and started after her. Now who can divine why she felt like running away from a man who was staring at her or what prompted Vandiya Devan to take off after her. We can only conclude that each one of them was following their natural instincts in the order of the world. 

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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Volume 1 - New Floods - The story so far...

With Karikalan's confession, the first part of Ponniyin Selvan is completed. I would like to thank all my readers and most importantly my friend Venketesh Ramakrishnan (Author of Kaveri Maindan - Sequel to Ponniyin Selvan) for his support and encouragement that allowed me to restart this translation effort.

The story so far...

A thousand years ago, a young soldier called Vandiya Devan was traveling towards the Chola Kingdom bearing important messages for King Sundara Chola and Princess Kundavai from the Crown Prince Aditya Karikalan. One night, he stays at Kadambur Palace at his friend Kandan Maran's palace. Coincidentally, Kandan Maran's father is playing the host to many important noble lords of Chola Kingdom and he had invited Periya Pazhuvetrayar, a very important lord who took care of taxations and treasury. Vandiya Devan inadvertently finds out that all the noble lords under the leadership of Periya Pazhuvetrayar were plotting to crown Prince Madhuranthakar (Sundara chola's first cousin) as the king after Sundara Chola's demise.  He also finds it disgusting to learn that Pazhuvetrayar was taking Madhuranthakar around with him in a palanquin, while the people mistook him to be his wife!

Vandiya Devan also meets a Veera Vaishnavan (Vishnu Devotee) in Kadambur who shadows him around for a while and is also seen, trying to listen in to the secret meeting that the noble lords of Chola kingdom had.

 The Veera Vaishnavan called Azhwarkadiyan wants to meet Periya Pazhuvetrayar's wife, Nandini because she was his 'sister' once upon a time. Nandini was found by Azhwarkadiyan's parents in a garden as a new born baby and they bring her up as their own daughter. A few years back when the Chola and Pandyas were engaged in a bitter battle in the Pandya Kingdom, the Pandya soldiers had brought the wounded Veera Pandyan (king of Pandyans) to Nandini's hut, who tried to help him. Sadly, the Chola soldiers find out about this and Aditya Karikalan beheads the king. Periya Pazhuvetrayar who was with them, snatches Nandini away and marries her. Since then Azhwarkadiyan has been trying to meet Nandini.

In the meanwhile, Princess Kundavai comes to Kudanthai along with her companion Princess Vanathi to meet an astrologer. At the astrologer's house, Vandiya Devan meets Kundavai and falls in love with her though he has no clue about her identity. He meets her again in Arisalaru while trying to save her friends from a crocodile (which was dead!).

Azhwarkadiyan also stumbles on a conspiracy hatched by a handful of Pandya soldiers who were bodyguards of Veera Pandyan. He finds out that they were planning to assassinate the Crown Prince Aditya Karikalan, his brother Prince Arul Mozhi Varman and the King Sundara Chola.

Vandiya Devan approaches Thanjavur and is worried about how to meet the king alone and warn him about the dangerous plot that the noble lords were hatching. He encounters a veiled palanquin on the way and thinking that Prince Madhuranthakar was inside he accosts them, only to find that it was Nandini devi sitting inside. He uses Azhwarkadiyan's name to seek help from her and she gives him the Pazhuvur ring with a palm leaf emblem to enter the fort.

Inside the fort, he befriends a flower boy named Senthan Amuthan and stays in his garden house for a night. Next day, he goes to the Thanjavur fort and gains entry into the palace thanks to the Pazhuvur ring. He meets Chinna Pazhuvetrayar (Periya Pazhuvetrayar's brother) who is the commander of the fort and tells him that his brother had sent him. Chinna Pazhuvetrayar allows him to meet the king in private but the king gets distracted by poets who arrive to meet him. Chinna Pazhuvetrayar becomes suspicious and tries to confine him to his guest chamber but Vandiya Devan escapes his soldiers and ends up hiding in Nandini's palace gardens. Nandini meets him and offers him a position in her palace but he refuses saying that he had agreed to work for Kundavai. She tries to seduce him into accepting the position but is interrupted by the arrival of mandiravadi (magician). Mandiravadi turns out to be the chief of the pandya bodyguards whom Azhwarkadiyan had encountered earlier and we learn that Nandini was helping them with gold so that they can revenge against the crown prince.

Vandiya Devan in the meanwhile remains hidden near a dark palace and he finds a way out of the fort through the dark tunnel. At the end of the tunnel he meets Kandan Maran who is fatally stabbed by the guard. Vandiya Devan kills the guard and saves Kandan Maran's life. Wounded by the dagger, he leaves Kandan Maran at Senthan Amuthan's house and leaves for Pazhaiarai to meet Princess Kundavai.

At Pazhaiarai Vandiya Devan meets Kundavai after entering the city masquerading as an actor for a drama troupe. He also informs her about the plot that the noble lords are hatching under the leadership of Pazhuvetrayars. Kundavai immediately gives him a message and asks him to deliver it to her brother in Eelangai (Sri Lanka) and tasks him to bring him back home. Bearing the message, Vandiya Devan leaves for Kodi Karai to take a boat to Eelangai.

At Kanchipuram, Aditya Karikalan and his friend Pallava Parthibendran are furious with the Pazhuvetrayars for branding his messenger as a spy. His maternal grandfather, Malaimaan advices him to be patient. They decide to send Parthibendran to Eelangai to get Prince Arul Mozhi back home. Karikalan confides to Parthibendran, about his secret passion for Nandini whom he had met at Pazaiarai and his wish to marry her. He reveals how devastated he was when he found that she was tending Veera Pandyan's wounds. He regrets beheading Veera Pandyan despite Nandini's pleas and his anger at learning that she was Pazhuvetrayar's wife now and she is the sole reason why he was not going to Thanjavur to meet his father. At the end of this conversation, Parthibendran gets ready to go Eelangai.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Chapter 57: Maya Mohini

Right from the time, when Aditya Karikalan had started his story, Parthibendran had been listening to him without much sympathy. But when his friend held his heart, he could truly experience his pain and his eyes grew moist.

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Volume 1 - New Flood