Friday, December 15, 2006

சுட்டும் விழிச் சுடர் தான் - Part III

சாத்திரம் பேசுகிறாய் கண்ணம்மா சாத்திரம் ஏதுக்கடீ
ஆத்திரம் கொண்டவர்க்கே கண்ணம்மா சாத்திரமுண்டோடீ
மூத்தவர் சம்மதியில் வதுவை முறைகள் பின்பு செய்வோம்
காத்திருப்பேனோடீ இது பார் கன்னத்து முத்தமொன்று


sAththiram pEsugiRAy kaNNammA sAththiram EthukkadI
Aththiram koNdavarkkE kaNNammA sAththiramuNdOdI
mUththavar sammathiyil vathuvai muRaigaL pinbu seyvOm
kAththiruppEnOdI ithu pAr kannaththu muththamonRu

Meaning per word
impatience/(those who)have it/kaNNammA/(do) rules exists
elders/if agree/marriage/rituals/later/(we shall) do
will I be waiting?/here/look/of cheek/kiss/one

Word by word translation

sAththiram - Rules. The word is a vadamozi col (வடமொழி சொல்) taken from the Sanskrit word shAshthram. The word has other meanings such as Science or any work of authority.
pEsugiRay - you speak. The root word is the verb pEsuthal (பேசுதல்). The word should be differentiated from the word solgiRAy (சொல்கிறாய்) which means talk. This word has a more conversation related connotation.
kaNNammA - The name
sAththiram - Rules
EthukkadI - Wherefore. This word is a distorted version of ethaRku (எதற்கு) meaning wherefore or 'for what'. The actual distorted word is ethukku (எதுக்கு) in which the initial 'e' (எ) gets elongated as 'E' (ஏ) for the sake of metre.

Aththiram - Impatience The word has two meanings - Anger and impatience. The first meaning is the more often used one. One other place where the meaning of impatience occurs is in the proverb 'AththirakkAranukku puththi mattu' (ஆத்திரக்காரனுக்கு புத்தி மட்டு) meaning The impatient have little brains.
koNdavarkkE - This is the third person form of the verb koLLal (கொள்ளல்) explained in the previous stanza.
kaNNammA - The name
sAththiram - RulesuNdOdI - This word comes from the root uNdu (உண்டு) a verb meaning existence. The O (ஓ) suffix makes the word a question and the dI (டீ) is a intensifier used to refer to the second person female.

mUththavar - Elders. This word comes from the adjective mUttha (மூத்த) which in terms derives from the noun mUppu (மூப்பு) meaning aging.
sammathiyil - If agree. This comes from the verb sammathi (சம்மதி) meaning to agree. The il (இல்) suffix brings about the if in English. With the previous word this will read as 'If elders agree'.
vathuvai - Marriage. A rather chaste tamil word that is not used anymore. The word has many more meanings all related to marriage - bride, conjugal union, etc.
muRaigaL - Procedures. The root word is muRai (முறை) of which this is the plural form. The actual meaning of the word is order/arrangement from which the meaning procedure stems.
pinbu - Later
seyvOm - First person plural form of the verb 'to do'. The exact meaning of this word in English is 'We shall do' (Perhaps that'll hint at the natural brevity of Tamil). The root verb is seythal (செய்தல்).

kAththiruppEnOdI - This is another compound word which means 'Will I be waiting?' The word splits as kAththu (காத்து) meaning wait + iruppEnO (இருப்பேனோ) meaning 'Will I be?'. ithu pAr - Look here. Literal translation would be 'this look'. However, the two words together, as a phrase mean 'Look here'.
kannaththu - of cheek. The root word is kannam (கன்னம்) to which the suffix athu (அது) is added to get kannaththu. The meaning comes out with the next word as 'kiss of the cheek' rather than 'kiss on the cheek'.
muththam - kiss
onRu - one


My dear reader, I wish I could explain this part to you sitting on an easy-chair in the lanes of a thanjAvUr street with the evening breeze and moon for company. These last few lines seductively push the kaNNammA in our minds into a complete acquiescence. Here She is sitting opposite to our Barathi. She is already enchanted by his sweet words describing Her beauty and Her smile. Her face sports a gentle blush as Barathi says vAlaik kumariyadI kaNNammA maruva kAthal koNdEn. And then, Barathi springs this. Yet, Her heart protests feebly. And that is when Barathi speaks.

'Who needs rules?', he asks. Observe how the question comes in the poem. He speaks to his beloved kaNNammA like a mother very gently reasoning with her kid. 'Yes', he says, 'You speak of rules, but why rules? Do we, who have been driven to madness by passion, have to worry about rules?' The word he uses for impatience is an excellent choice. Besides bringing out a rare usage of the word Aththiram, he also manages the perfect rhyming with sAththiram and Aththiram. Also, notice how he repeats the name kaNNammA kaNNammA in both these lines to completely thrall the attention of his beloved. Do you notice his subtle guile? Do you notice how like saying to a kid 'My dear child, yes you think so. But my dear child it is not so.' he entices kaNNammA into his arguement?

And then comes the promise. The heart of a man longs for union above everything else. It is blindly led by desire into action, like a mad river hurtling towards the sea. The woman comes here as the guiding light. She harnesses and leads man into better action and better desire, like tha banks of the river. Hence, when it comes to the soft drama of love, men always desire union while women always desire the rules of tradition be met. Barathi here promises his lover that he shall marry Her. But he adds an 'if elders agree'. To understand this addition we need to understand the age in which Barathi lived. This was an age when the Tamil community, especially the brahmins had coiled up themselves in meaningless tradition. It is perhaps surprising to believe that a community that once laid down separate rules for love poetry had gone through a period when they considered love between a man and woman sacrilege. Hence, Barathi says 'if the elders agree'. But what if they don't agree? Barathi provides no answer for that. Because kaNNammA, already enchanted by his words, does not ask such questions.

Besides Barathi does not say he will marry kaNNammA. Rather he says he shall do the rites, the rituals and the procedures of marriage. He does not say vathuvai seyvOm. Instead he says vathuvai muRaigaL seyvOm. Why? Because marriage, which is the union of two loving hearts, is already over between Barathi and kaNNammA. It happened the day their eyes met; the day their hearts met. All that is left is now mere procedures and rituals - external actions to be done for the sake of the society.

Enough of words Barathi says now. Observe those last lines, savour them completely. First comes the rhetorical question - 'Will I be waiting?' This is very different from the question 'Will I wait?' The former is more assertive and clearly suggests our Barathi is not the man who shall wait. And then a gentle pause. And then Barathi brings out supreme magic by saying ithu pAr. Close your eyes and read through again; visualize the lines. 'Will I wait?', he asks and then with his hand turns her face to present her cheeks as he says 'Look here' and then comes the kiss. The 'Look here' takes kaNNammA by surprise as does Barathi's turning of Her cheek. The kiss then completes the magic for the lovers that evening as a blushing kaNNammA folds into Barathi's arms.


msp said...

Didn't know 'vathuvai' till today. You have also brought out the 'kaathiruppEnOdi' really well.

The near dismissive refernce to 'saathiram' and 'muraigaL' is usually understood as typical of Barathi the rebel. But even without that tag this poem appeals in the fuming impatience of the lover. I do not see them as manifestations of his social anger here, not a conscious 'ichagathuLOrelAm' etc. The poet is too carried away to be able to 'care' for anything else.

The fever you talked off in the previous stanza is even more obvious here.

Good post !

Sangeetha said...

You've explained it without diluting the intentions of bharathiyar!Thank you. Inspired to be better at tamil. cheers!

Srividya KR said...

Beautifully written Appreciation section. I wish I had learned Tamil in school.