This poem is one most interesting themes of the Akam poetry. In this theme the Hero who is being denied access to meet his lady love , threatens the friend of the lover that he has already made love to her and knows all secrets if her and would expose this secret to every one if the he wasn’t granted access to his lover.
Akam poetry has various love themes, to understand the poem below you need to understand other themes also. So let me brief you on various other themes in Akam poetry related to this poem.
Talaivan usually meets Talaivi in hills or in the beach. He falls for her immediately. He thinks she might be a love devil(Anangu) but later with some marks he finds she is human( like blinking eyes or legs). After confirming she is human he tries to talk to her and catch her attention. Usually he succeeds and leaves a lasting mark on Talaivi.
Talaivi now impressed by Talaivan wants to see him. This meeting of theirs usually takes place in the hills and end up as Punarchi (love making- Union). After this they frequently meet in the nights. Talaivan comes to to Talaivi’s place makes some kind of signal and Talaivi gets the signal and meets the lover and they are involved in love plays.
This affair goes on for while as a secret affair. The foster mother or the friend( Panki) finds there is change in Talaivi and start questioning her. They pressurize Talaivi not to meet Talivan and make him agree for a marriage. Talaivi in fear that Panki would complain to her parents agrees not meet the Talaivan.
Now that we have discussed various related themes let us see the poem of the day,
பணைத் தோட் குறுமகள் பாவை தையும்,
பஞ்சாய்ப் பள்ளம் சூழ்ந்தும், மற்று-இவள்
உருத்து எழு வன முலை ஔத பெற எழுதிய
தொய்யில் காப்போர் அறிதலும் அறியார்,
முறையுடை அரசன் செங்கோல் அவையத்து
யான் தற் கடவின் யாங்கு ஆவதுகொல்?
பெரிதும் பேதை மன்ற-
அளிதோதானே-இவ் அழுங்கல் ஊரே!
I sewed and made
for my bamboo-shouldered girl
a patchwork doll like herself
with sedge grass and things
from the edges of the pools
where we roamed.
Yet they’ll acknowledge nothing,
these body guards of hers,
not even the beauty streaks
I’ve painted on her arrogant rising breasts!
Wait till I ask for her
in the sceptered court of our moral king
and see what happens then
to this rotten town full of girl-friends,
all of them utter fools!
It’s just pitiful.
Poet : Korikkorran
Translated by A.K. Ramanujan.
In this poem, the Talaivan has been denied access to meet his Talaivi. Talaivi parents have sealed their daughter inside the house with body guards to protect her.
Talaivan here addresses the Panki( Talaivi’s Friend) , now notice the words he uses, “I sewed and made for my bamboo-shouldered girl a patchwork doll like herself with sedge grass and things from the edges of the pools where we roamed.” Here he stresses that he cant bare being away from the Talaivi hence he had made a doll thinking of her. Here if you see he stresses that “with sedge grass and things from the edges of the pools where we roamed” , he stresses ‘we roamed’ to say that they have been hanging around for a while in secret.
Now comes the explosive revlation about their affair. He goes on to say “the beauty streaks I’ve painted on her arrogant rising breasts!” . Now the Talaivan shows the intimacy he has shared with the Talaivi. He tells Panki that he has been in total intimacy with her Talaivi to the extent he knows all the beauty marks present in Talaivi breast. He also takes the dig at body guards saying they wont acknowledge it because it is supposed to be very itnimate secret only very few people might know. By saying this he show Panki that the relationship between him and Talaivi is much deeper than Panki and Talaivi’s parents thought.
He now steps up the pressure. He says he will go the king and plead before him. He knows the King at any cost would grant justice, he would like to put forward his side of the story to King and get to meet the Talaivi.
One thing to be noticed here is usually Talaivan performs Matal during these kind of situation where he is denied access to his lady love. I have given detailed account of Matal in one of my previous posts. So here we can assume that he is threatening to perform a Matal and go and seek justice from the king. This is very effective tool since, the intimate relationship will now become know to every one and would become the gossip of the town. Panki and the girl herself try to avoid gossips like this. Usually Panki succumbs to pressure and helps Talaivan meet Talaivi in secret.
Going back to the poem the Talaivan goes on to say “rotten town full of girl-friends, all of them utter fools!”. He says that girls cant just get away after loving a guy and in case they decide to do it they have to pay heavy price. He just wonders how these girls are so naive and foolish and goes on to say ” It’s just pitiful.”
This one of the unique poems where Talaivan threatens to go the king , instead to threatening to do a Matal. We also come to know that body guards were placed to prevent Talaivan meeting the Talaivi.
Literary conventions of Akam Poetry by Kamil Zvelebil.
Interior Landscape by A.K. Ramanujan
Kurunthokai Urai by U.V.Swaminathan Iyer
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