Chapter 39 -The World Swirled
Lord Pazluvoor had heard that people talked with derision about his marrying a young girl in his old age. That Kundavai was one such person had reached his ears. But no one had told him explicitly till now, about what exactly Kundavai had said. Now, when he heard the words from Nandini’s lips, his heart burned like the furnace in a smithy. “Puff, puff,” came fiery sighs from his nostrils. Nandini’s tears added further fuel to the fire in his heart.
“My dearest! Is that what that wretched fiend said? Did she call me an aged buffalo? Wait — let her, let her … See what I shall do to her! I will trample her and throw her out just like the water-buffalo which tramples a lotus vine! And then, watch … she … I will, I will …” Lord Pazluvoor could not talk because of his rage.
“My dearest Lord! When you have a sword and spear in your hands what need for magic spells? Leave the spells and sorcery to a hapless female like me. Why do you need witchcraft or sorcery?”
“Darling, when you open your coral lips and call me `Dearest’, my very being is filled with happiness. Your golden face makes my head swim. Yes, I do have a sword and spear in my hands. But, I can use them only against my enemies in the battlefield. What can I do with such weapons in this flower laden bower? I have no arrows against Cupids’s darts! You have them! You ask me why I need magic spells! This fire of passion that burns constantly, consuming my very life and body — I need spells to quench it. Do you have any spells for that? Teach me, if you know them? If not, let me have the fortune of touching your flower like body and enjoy that happiness. Save my life, darling! It is more than two and a half years since we have been man and wife as per the laws of the land and the sacred texts. But still, we do not lead a normal wedded life. You put me away with excuses of vows and penances. You are torturing your husband who took your hand in marriage. At least, once and for all, give me some poison with your own hands….”
Nandini covered her ears, “Dear dear me! Don’t utter such cruel words! If you say such things again I will do as you say! I will drink poison and die. Then you can live without worry!”
“No, no! I won’t say anything like that again. Forgive me! How can I be at peace if you drink poison and die? Now I am half mad, then I will become totally deranged.”
“Dear Lord, why should you become mad? On the very day we wed, we became one soul in two bodies. Your soul and mine became one; heart and heart mingled. Every heartbeat of yours echo’s in my heart. Every thought that rises in your mind is reflected here in my vision. When you frown, my eyes fill with tears. Thus, when we have become one heart and soul, why bother about mere bodies? This body is made of dust for one day it will burn to ashes, turn to dust again…”
“Stop! Stop! My ears burn with your cruel words.” Lord Pazluvoor continued, without letting her talk: “Are you saying it is made of dust? A lie! An untruth! It can never be so! There are several women in this world — the creator might have made them of dust or dirt, stone or lime; coal or ashes. But, do you know how Brahma, the creator, fashioned your divine form? He collected delicate mandara flowers from the gardens of heaven and came to this Tamil land and collected the blushing lotus from our creeks. He threw the flowers in a golden bowl full of nectar from paradise. He then took that mixture and added moon-beams to it. He called for the bards of ancient times and asked them to play the veena, blending their melody into his mixture. With that unique mixture he created your divine form…”
“My Lord! You talk as if you stood besides the creator and watched all this! Am I the only person available to you for such descriptions? You have several other queens in your palace — nobly born women. You have lived with them for several years. It is merely two and a half years since you met me…”
Before Nandini could finish, he intervened. Perhaps he wished to express his desire at least with words. He perhaps wished to quench the fire of passion at least with a shower of words!
“Nandini, you talk about those other women in my palace. I married them only to establish the ancient line of the Pazluvoor clan. Some of them remained barren and the others merely gave birth to girls. I accepted it as God ‘s decree and remained tranquil. I had forgotten a desire for women for a long time. Affairs of the state occupied all my attention and time. There was no place in my heart for anything but the welfare of this Chozla Empire. Then we fought the final battle with the Pandiyas. Even though the campaign was led by several younger generals, I could not remain behind. Anyway, if I had not entered that battlefield, our forces would not have won such a decisive victory. My skill and strength helped. After destroying the Pandiya forces completely and occupying Madurai, I went to the Kongu Kingdom. I was returning from there along the banks of the Cauvery.
“You were born in this world as Ahalya; I was Indra. I gave up my kingship over paradise and braving the curse of the learned ascetics, I came down in search of you. Much later, I was born as the Emperor Santhanu. I went along the banks of the Ganga on a hunt. I saw you — you were divine Ganga in the guise of a earthly woman. I loved you then. Much later, several eons later, I was born as Kovalan in Kaviri-pattinam. You were Kannagi. For some time I had forgotten you, because of the cloak of maya that covered my eyes. The cloak fell and I realized your worth. I took you to Madurai and left you in the farmhouse to go into the city, to sell your anklet. I lost my life because of treachery. In revenge for that, in this birth, I destroyed the Pandiya clan and came back to find you once again. You were that same Kannagi whom I had seen several hundreds of years ago ….”
(Note: The myth of Ahalya and Indra is from the epic Ramayana. The story of Santhanu and Ganga is from the epic Mahabarata. Kannagi and Kovalan are from the romance Silappadikaram.)
As the Elder Lord Pazluvoor was recounting the tales of his past births, Nandini had turned her face away looking into the darkness. Because of this, Lord Pazluvoor did not notice the changing expressions on her face. It is doubtful if he would have continued talking in the same fashion if he had seen them.
When he stopped to take a breath, Nandini turned back to him, “My Lord! Your examples are not very appropriate. Everything is slightly inauspicious. If you want, call yourself Manmatha (Lord of Beauty and Love) and me Rathi (Goddess of Beauty and Passion)!” she smiled once again.
Lord Pazluvoor’s face brightened with pride and happiness. Which man will not feel happy, however ugly he may be, if his sweetheart calls him Manmatha, the God of Love and Beauty? But still, he spoke as if he did not wish to praise himself.
“My dearest, it is quite appropriate to call you Rathi. But can we compare me to Manmatha? You call me so because of your love for me.”
“My Lord, in my eyes you are Manmatha! Bravery is beauty for menfolk. The world knows that there is no warrior who is your match in this land. Men acquire allure because of their kindness to waifs like me. You gave sanctuary to me, an orphan girl, without questions about my past. You protected me and showered all your love on me. I will not make you wait for long. The time for ending my penance and fulfilling my vow is drawing close,” spoke Nandini.
“Dearest, tell me clearly what that vow is and what your penance is about. I will complete it for you as quickly as possible.”
“None of the descendants of this Sundara Chozla who thinks he is the handsomest man in this world, should ascend the Chozla throne. The pride of that prejudiced female, Kundavai, must be wounded ….”
“Nandini, think them done. Aditya and Arulmozli will not get the throne. All the chieftains of this nation have agreed to crown Madurandaka as the next Crown Prince.”
“Have all agreed? Truly?” asked Nandini sharply.
“Except two or three, all have agreed. That fellow of Kodumbalur, Malayaman and Parthiban will never join us. I have no worry about them.”
“Nevertheless, we must be careful till the deed is done.”
“No doubt about that. I am taking care of everything. Mistakes may occur because of the foolishness of others. Even today such a mistake happened. A young messenger from Kanchi who arrived today, duped Kalanthaka and met the Emperor
“Why no effort? the search for him has begun — inside and outside the fort. They will find him. This will not hinder our plans in any way. After the Emperor, the throne is surely for Madurandaka.”
“My Lord, the time has come for me to reveal the aim of my penance…”
“Dearest, I have been asking you to tell me that …”
“My vows will not be fulfilled by placing that foolish youth, Madurandaka — he who shows his teeth to smile at every woman — that idiot, on the throne.”
“What will fulfil your vow? Tell me your desire. I will accomplish it.”
“My King! A famous astrologer read my horoscope when I was very young. He said that I would be troubled by various incidents till my eighteenth year.”
“And then what did he say?”
“He said that my luck would change after my eighteenth year. He said that I would achieve an incomparable position of prestige.”
“Ah! He said the truth. Who is that astrologer? I will shower him with gold coins.”
“He said one more thing. Shall I say it?”
“Surely, you must tell me!”
“That astrologer said, that the man who takes my hand and weds me will sit upon the throne of a large empire and kings of all the fifty-six nations will come and bow to him as he sits on the throne of an emperor. That’s what the astrologer said. Can you fulfill that?”
When Lord Pazluvoor heard these words — Nandini, the couch on which she was sitting, everything, swam before his eyes. The flower laden gazebo swirled; its pillars twirled. The dark garden in front began revolving. Treetops bathed in the moonlight began turning. The mansions on both sides revolved. The world swirled!