He showed his palm at me.


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.

Vedaranyam

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.

Pause & Pass – Feb ’16


I was the only outsider dwelling in the shore in Kodiakkarai (Point Calimere), in that afternoon of Feb 2016. It was a sea shore without waves. Apart from me, there were two other fishermen on a fishing boat stopped at the shore; where they were untying the fishes and other aquatic animals caught on their net.
 
Sea shore without waves; many flocks of seagulls flying around like – kites all tied to a pivot – raising and raising and round and round, finally landing and raising again; wet sand shore holed and carved with architectures of crabs; a fishing boat with two fishermen on it plucking the fish from their net. It sounded to me as a backdrop enacted there just for my presence.
 
I reached to the fishing boat. Just stood there to see what they did; Didn’t talk or near them very close for sometime; they didn’t talk to me either. A young boy and his grandmother(atleast I assumed so).
 
“Can I take a photo of you two?”, I asked.
 
Grandma looked at me, then his grandson.
 
“No, don’t take”, boy denied without looking at me.
 
“Why?”
 
“No, don’t take”, he denied again.
 
“ok, I won’t”, I respected their refusal. Didn’t picture them.
 
But it affected me thought, not because I was refused.
 
I somehow felt that, he denied and acted to me like that because he was not happy to be captured by a well fed someone and who are not bother of his life at stake for his daily needs; like How a not so happy sibling would deny a sufficiently supplied sibling. Kodiakkarai, if you don’t know, is twenty five kilometers away from Srilanka. Kodiakkarai fishing community is one of many others who are neglected by central government and tortured, boats damaged, sometime shot at, by Srilankan navy.
16938688_1448371675193972_3154866631102457660_n
 
***
 
Next day, when I was in Pichavaram – chidambaram, second largest marshland in India. People were fishing in rowing boats.
 
“Anna (brother), will they say anything if I picture them?”, I asked the boatman on who’s boat I was in.
 
“No no.. don’t mind to..” he told me and he shouted at them – “hey.. You.. Pose for the photo here…. nobody is going to eat you if you smile…. Show your teeth….”
 
I smilingly took the photo and showed them the thumps up.
17190740_1448371668527306_5414361592975443352_n
***

A dinner in street.


‘Haeli(tell me)’ cashier nodded his head at me. 

‘Masal dosa’ I said and showed a finger to tell him the count. 

‘Thirty.  haeeyyyy…. ‘ he said and rushed to the street. Three teenagers were racing on a bike and dashed over a couple. 

They didn’t stop, though there were too many hands trying to grab a hold of them –  the three teenagers. They managed to escape them all and dashed themselves, missing the balance, on the vehicles that were parked at the sides of the street shop – I was waiting for Masal dosa. Few grabbed their collar, few jumped over them, many punched on their face. There was much hassle. 

I got my dosa a little while later, sat over a concrete near the shop and started feeding my hunger. 

‘What is happening here?!’ a voice directed towards me. A white. 

I told him what happened there, repeating many words again and again, I couldn’t twist my tongue proper to his mother language. 

‘But, why did they dash on those vehicles? ‘

‘They were trying to escape’ I said. 

‘Aaaahhhh…’ he said and shock his head. 

He was eating ‘Set dosa’ with a coffee by the side,  with bare hands. 

‘Good to see you eat with bare hands’ I smiled. 

He laughed out loud. “Food that are costlier than these are not tastier than these” 

‘Where are you from?! You are here for very long?! ‘ I asked. He said, he is from London and he has been in India for six months now,  traveling along Kerela and Tamil Nadu for past five months and his stay in Bangalore of one month is getting over by tomorrow. 

‘I’m leaving Bangalore tomorrow, but I don’t know where I’m going next. My travel so far has been as this, zero planning’ he grinned. 

I excused to get me a coffee,  got one and went back again to him. 

‘How do you feel about the past six months here? ‘

Staring with food, he continues praising good about culture, tradition and people. 

‘People here handle things by themselves,  which I don’t see in London, I mean, in terms of dealing things among themselves as it just happened now, in that hassle; without taking it over to an burocracy level. Ah.. where are those three guys who got caught?!’

‘Their plea has been considered after the smashing’ I said. 

He was raving about things here, I don’t know if it was because of my emotive nature, but I was more than proud. Perhaps, gloating. I couldn’t get ride of that thick grin that was sticking on my face.

‘You people get rid of your politicians somehow, I mean, somehow… You people can handle it all with yourself, you just don’t need them’ there was a firm genuineness in his expression then. 

I was just sitting there, with my grin for sometime. 

‘Alright man, good to see you, have a wonderful trip’, I wished him and started walking home. 

Only after crossing few meters, I remembered I had left the coffee glass in the place we were talking and didn’t give it back to the shop. 

I went back there only to see no coffee glass at the place I kept but the English guy I was talking to had picked my glass as well, along with his plate and his coffee glass, and was giving it to the shop. He was modest enough to pick something I used. I wouldn’t have done that in his place, just until then. 

I left the place, with a sense of making something really ugly. Only I couldn’t put that “Why?!” into words here.