The bride and the groom glittered like a prince and a princess or rather a young monarch and his younger queen. They exuded the lissome grace of a couple of accomplished dancers who could set a stage on fire or easily make the viewers sway, shake and shiver with bliss. The handsome lord, droplets of water were gliding down his long hair. looked a little embarassed and out of place in the dandy and glittering attire which was wet, through his having walked in the downpour. Though the lord of all he purveyed, he liked to look spartan, but well, you have to make concessions now and then for the occassion. The lord was looking on his lady with amazemnt, admration, and amusement, but seemed intent, alert and nimble to go to her rescue if necessary. She looked, now like the tall, dark and graceful Kali, now like the bewitching Jaganmohini and then again even like a feminine Kesava, even as the shopkeepers along the road cowered behind her anxiously. And when she rebuked the ruffians, who were harassing these people, to pay hafta (protction money), with her sharp but refined tongue in her charming and regal tone,she seemed to spew out nectar. Her lips and tongue were crimson with the betel juice . Though she appeared full of the vigour that the occassion demanded,her eyes seemed to be drooping with fatigue and sleeplessness or the intoxication of a heavy and heady royal dinner and refreshing drinks. The couple seemed to have dismissed their retinue to ensure privacy.
Her dark, long hair has traces of thin light yellow needle-like fragments of Kadamba blossoms.Evidently they took the route towards the temple street, through the woods which abounded in these mighty and dainty trees. A cute green parrot, they call it Rama Chiluka, wet and shivering on the tree nearby is warbling something indistinctly, “Is it ‘Rama’ or ‘Amma’ ?”, Dikshitar, looking on at the proceedings with surprise and rapture, is not sure.
The rogues looked dazed, ashamed and unable to withstand her onslaught or beguiling good looks. Her piercing snides semmed sweet sounding. The sharp slaps on the face that the lady showered on them in quick succession stunned them. The defeated ruffians take to their heels. And the royal bride and her pleased handsome groom, wade towards the temple, nonchalant in the ankle-deep water. There was a cloud burst. Muttu Swami also slowly and carefully plods through the deluge to the temple.
He goes around the temple, pays his respects and obeisance to all the deities in the temple. His disciple accompanies him carrying his legendary veena.
Now, they sit in the lobby. Dikshitar takes his veena and strums a few notes. He is yet to come out of his trance. . Now his mind goes to the beautiful bride and then to her handsome lord, handsome with his rippling biceps and thin waist. The bride’s dignified demeanour, her sweet voice which compelled even her opponents to switch to a softer sweeter and conciliatory tone and her enchanting eyes.
He reminded him a beautiful Kalyani song, ‘Himadri Sute pahimam’ of his eminent neighbour at Tanjavur, Syama Sastri.. When he thought of Tanjore, his mind suffered a pang, not just for having had to leave the blessed place and the stimulating interchanges with his senior neighbour. There was a lot to learn and benefit from the calm but imposing old scholar who commanded the respect of the learned and the rustic. Muttu Swami is not concerned much about the fatiguing journeys. He is used to such rigours, for he had travelled across the length and breadth of his great and sacred land. But he was getting on years and he knew he had only a few years. He knows his Kundali. But he is pained to witness the travails his hapless spouses and his disciple had to undergo since the past few days in the exhausting search for his missing young brother. He blames himself for having allowed his younger brothers to migrate to Madurai to seek their fortune. But when the offer seemed lucrative, and as he himself could not leave Tanjavoor, he allowed them to go. He had the misfortune of losing the elder of his two younger brothers, as reports indicate.He would like to meet at least his surviving brother, the versatile younger one and then bless him,
His two younger brothers, they were like his sons, especially since they lost their talented and resourceful father. Muthuswami, feels he was not equal to all the mundane concerns he was burdened with after the demise of his father. He wants to be rid of the few acres of land, if only to escape the bother of having to pay the taxes irrespective of the dwindling yield.
He is not however unduly worried. His young surviving brother has a lot of fruitful and glorious decades ahead of him, yes, he has read his planetary positions, last night.And a significant and auspicious event seemed to be around the corner, for the young man.
His mind again went back to the young couple he had seen while on the way to the temple. He looks around for them but can not find them.The young bride, the Kalyani, the Neelaveni, the Lalitha, she must be the daughter of one of the chieftains in the area.But she looked veritably the daughter of the King of the Snowcapped peaks. The parrot, which landed on her forearm, when the lady looked at the bystanders including him, benignly, and her happy and beautifully bedecked groom, with that glittering tiara with the glowing silver crescent on it, reminded him of a sweet composition, ‘Himadri Sute’, of his mighty neighbour at Tanjavoor.
The notes, of the veena, are they in Mohanam, startle him out of his riverie He looks at the bright young boy sitting before him, twiddling with the strings of his veena.
” What is your name ?”, asks Muttu Swami.
” Muttu Kumaran”, the boy replies smiling.
‘Is he mocking me.’,Dikshitar stares at him and asks, ” Where do you live? ”
” We live in Vaitheeswaran Koyil. My dad is a doctor there.”, the boy says and adds, ” We came here to attend a royal wedding.”.
An young lady, obviously the boy’s mother comes, lifts him up saying, “I have been looking around for you all over the temple.”
” The veena is nice and the yali is not drooping, it is upright. And it is etched, with the word ‘Sri Rama’ on it. “, the boy tells his mother.
The mother looks appreciatively at her kid and turning towards Dikshitar, asks, ” He must have troubled you a lot with his queries. He is very inquisitive. And he has a phenomenal memory.”
” Takes after his mother evidently. Are you teaching him music?” Dikshitar enquires politely.
The boy says proudly, ” Yes,she is. And, me, I can teach my dad even. You know. My mom has a nice veena.I can’t play it yet like her. But I will learn.”
The mother reprimands the boy, ” Don’t be proud. Papa has so many things on his mind that is sometimes distracted and forgetful.”
She turns to Dikshitar and says, ” I am currently teaching him Varaveena in Mohanam. And sir, what brings you here ?”
Dishitar recounts his sad story briefly. The lady says, ” You are a good man. The Divine Couple will see that you are happy.” The lady and the child take leave and go their way.
Dikshitar, starts to play Mohanam, on his veena. Soon he is singing, ” Kaadambaree Priyaayai, Kadamba Kaananaayai,……..”
He is happy and relieved. A parrot is chirping,” Amma,Amma,Amma”, from the branch of a tree somewhere nearby.