I am sweating – Kurunthokai 84


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Happy new year to every one. Wanted to start the New year with a nice poem. For a change I decided to take a poem with out visual imagery and one which just rides on simple emotion of love.

Most of the times when you retrospect how situations have gone out of control ,you realize that there were always signs of doom showing up , only you weren’t sharp enough to catch it.  Here a mother looks back at an event which happened previous night. What looked like an innocent action back then makes sense to her while she retrospects.

Thalaivan and Thalaivi are in love. And one fine day they decide to elope. Thalaivi has to come out of her house during the midnight and elope with Thalaivan waiting outside. The foster mother of the girl always sleeps with this girl and embraces her closely during sleep. The next day when she sees that the girl is gone missing , she utters this poem.

84. பாலை
பெயர்த்தனென் முயங்க, ‘யான் வியர்த்தனென்’ என்றனள்;
இனி அறிந்தேன், அது துனி ஆகுதலே-
கழல்தொடி ஆஅய் மழை தவழ் பொதியில்
வேங்கையும் காந்தளும் நாறி,
ஆம்பல் மலரினும் தான் தண்ணியளே.
மகள்போக்கிய செவிலித்தாய் சொல்லியது. – மோசிகீரன்
Kurunthokai 84
Reacting to my embrace,
The girl
who had the coolness of ambal
and the fragrance of vengai and kanthal
from the cloud covered pothyil mountain of
Aay, who wore the curved warrior anklet,
said ‘ I am sweating’ ,
only now
I understand her displeasure.
Poet : Mocikiran
Translated by me.

The mother is trying to hug and keep her daughter close to her while she slept, which was probably her habit. But on previous night the daughter resists her and says that she was sweating. The mother leaves her alone. This made it easy for the girl to sneak out and elope with her lover.
Now we should understand the importance of the lines ” coolness of ambal and the fragrance of vengai and kanthal” for a casual reader this might just look like unwanted description and probably to embed some nature into the poem. But if you read carefully the two qualities talked about here are fragrance and coolness. When the girl says she is sweating the mother avoids hugging her. The two probable reasons would being so close to person to a person who is already sweating would increase the sweating and other being to avoid the bad odor of the sweating.
When the mother thinks about the previous night it strikes to her that her daughter’s was always cool like the water lily ambal (meaning she doesn’t sweat usually) and had the fragrance of flowers like vengai and kanthal. Now the mother feels so stupid to believe her daughters lie and understand why her daughter had such a displeasure when she tried to hug her. She understood that the girl had already decided to elope with her lover.
Her daughter was no more a kid who would prefer to embrace her mother instead she had become a young women who preferred her lovers embrace.
If you wondered why the name Aay is figuring in this poem, He was chieftain of area surrounding Potyil mountains and one of the seven great valals.  The poets were usually court poets and have patronage of the king. So it was tradition to include the name of the patron in the poems the poets write.
வேங்கை vēṅkai
East Indian kino tree, l. tr., Pterocarpus marsupium; நீண்ட மரவகை. சந்தனமும் வேங்கையும் வேமே (நாலடி, 180)
காந்தள் kāntaḷ
, n. prob. காந்து-. [M. kāntal.] 1. Malabar glory lily, red or white species, m. cl., Gloriosa superba;kāntaḷkāntaḷ, the flower sacred to Skanda; முருகக்கடவுளுக்குரிய காந்தளைச் சிறப்பித்துக் கூறும் புறத்து
காந்தள்- kaanthal
ஆம்பல் āmpal
, n. 1. [K. ābal, M. Tu. ām- bal.] Water-lily, nymphaea lotus; அல்லி.
பெயர்த்தனென் முயங்க, ‘யான் வியர்த்தனென்’ என்றனள்;
react- embrace,’ I (am) sweating’ she said;
இனி அறிந்தேன், அது துனி ஆகுதலே
now – understand, that- displeasure-  happened
warrior anklet- curve- Aay- cloud- float- Pothiyil
east kinko tree flower- malabar glory lily- fragrance
ஆம்பல் மலரினும் தான் தண்ணியளே.
water lilly- flower- who has- fragrance
Available resources on the poem:
The girl has the fragrance
of venkai and kantal flowers
from loose- braceletted Aay’s
cloud covered Potiyil hill;
and she herself is cool as a lily
After a time,
when I embraced her, again,
she complained she was sweating.
Now I under stand
her revulsion.
Shanmugam Pillay and David Ludden
The foster- mother on her discivery that her daughter has eloped the previous night
Last night after a bout of sleep
I found my girl had rolled away
and wishing to fold her in my embrace
I tried to move to where she lay.
But she said she perspired and seemed inclined
To stay away from the edge of the bed
I no knoe why my holding her
IN tight embrace was distasteful-
My little girl whose body smell
Is nicer far than the full blown blossom
of Vengai and kantal on the cloud-topped hill
Ruled by Ay- my girl whose touch
Is cooler far than the ambal bloom
I realise now why she waved away
My advanced to hold her tight.
A.V.Subramanian – Love lyrics long ago
The foster mother of a girl was so affectionate that she would always sleep with her hand clasped round her body. The girl had fallen in love with mountain chieftain, and their affection had grown into an overwhelming passion which would not brook any delay. Hence the lovers decide to elope and a night was duly fixed for the act. That night naturally kept the girl awake, but how could she escape, with the foster- mother sleeping in the same bed, locked with her close embrace? By means of signal previously arranged, the chieftain communicated to her the fact of his arrival in the backyard. The girl was in dire predicament. She decided to stake all her future happiness on a risky stratagem. She put her foster mother’s hand away very carefuly. But the foster mother was half awakened and she demanded sleepily,” Why do you roll away from me?” The girl replied soothingly, ” The night is sticky and I perpired profusely. That was why I moved away”. The girl waited to go to sleep again and getting up, she tiptoed out into the back yard. the next morning when the girl was missed and the fact of elopmenet was deduced, the foster mother admiringly recounted the incident of the previous night. ” She moved away because the night was sticky; and the fool that I was, I believed in her implicity.”
A.V.Subramanian – Sips from Sangam Cup
Please post your comments.


  1. wonderful – to note that boys n girls were no different in those days as well !!

    happy new year


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