Looking at my reflection on the rear-view mirror, “Where else do you want to visit, thambi (younger brother)?”, driver anna (Elder Brother) inquired.
I paused for a minute and asked him, “Is there any, you think, I should visit?”.
It was quarter past five already in Vedaranyam. My plan was to stop at Chidambaram next, which takes a 3 1/2 hours of bus travel. Then look for a room there to stay, for Vedaranyam didn’t really have a convenient place to halt for a night. I was getting late.
“There is a small Agaththiyar temple, on our way to the town, if you want to visit..” he said.
“A temple for Agaththiyar? I definitely want to visit.” I couldn’t resist.
“Okay”, he laughed, “lets see if it is open still; nevertheless, will ask people nearby to open it for few minutes”.
I thanked him, he was indeed very kind to me.
Tholkappiyam – written by Tholkaappiyar, lays the grammar for Tamil. Tholkappiyam is the oldest available scripture of and for Tamil. Tholkappiyam is believed to be derived from Agathiyam – written by Agaththiyar; which was lost and gone forever. Agaththiyar is the father of the language Tamil; Word ‘father’ here is not honorary; but an actual.
A simplest of Castles for the father of a Grandest Language. Uneven and unpolished rock floor; peeling off limestone painted walls; a deity as dark as the electric lightless room; dull light from the only oil lantern simmering on a side of the face – of the bearded statue and the priest with just a dhoti that has long lost its life and charm. I felt pressed by unreasonable reasons.
I was watching all around the place until the priest called, “Thambi..”, and nodded at me asking to reverence Agaththiyar while he showed the flame towards the father himself. It was emotional. Reverence was all pure.
I prayed, “Say all you left unsaid to this world, through me” and smiled. He showed his palm at me.
“How do you travel all alone?”, asked driver anna sipping tea, “isn’t that boring?”
“No, it is not. I’m comfortable alone”, I told him and smiled.
“Strange! did anything happen for you, recently?, like.. “, he meant unfortunate life-events and smiled.
“no..”, I laughed out loud.
He shook up left out little tea in the glass to dissolve the sedimented sugar and turned it down into his mouth; until no more drop of tea was left in it.
With empty glasses, we just sat there on the wooden bench for a while: I – looking around, him – reading a newspaper and shaking his head, perhaps, in disappointment, angst, apprehension that the happenings he read could have caused.
“It doesn’t seem like you could earn enough from your taxi..”, I asked about his earnings other than this.
“True, my brother does salt farming”, he said, “we are a join family”.
‘oh..’, I nodded.
“So, how’s life here na.. Happy?” I smiled.
“Happy?!” driver anna laughed throwing his head back, “I don’t really know, thambi”
“Why do you say that?”
“I don’t know..”, cuddling his grey beard he said, “sometime, even if I am happy, I doubt if that is what happiness is or is it like I’m faking myself about it, you know what I mean? For I can live, feel and perceive everything only from one life and body; I don’t have an approval, you see.. for many a things. And your feeling are nobody else’s. Sometimes, even the hard times, when I look back, I feel I enjoyed it; but does that mean happiness? I don’t know” he chuckled, twisting his wrist to show something is unknown, “like colors, ha ha.. you see, the green your eye balls may perceive may not be same as my eye balls do, they say. You can’t have an approval for it with just your eyes and brain. O! it is the same with the sadness, I may doubt sometime if I’m being too touchy. That is why I think, I really don’t know. Perhaps, I have allowed myself to analyze too much of a bare reality. Perhaps, we would be able to feel only ecstasy and despair as right as rain. uh?”
Leaning on the wooden bench, balancing my two arms over it, with my heads facing down, I smiled within, out of unexpected grander in his thoughts.
“what is that.. thambi”, he asked caressing my back.
“Nothing..” I tapped his thigh, “It is getting late for me, anna. I think, I must take a leave”
I settled up the money for his car rental and took a leave from him.
I don’t know if I’m right about it; but there wasn’t any want of an approval more assuring than that day has provided me for the kind of travel I wish to have.