Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Christmas gift to Tamenglong- Haflong

Picture Credit- Mr Armstrong Pame, IAS
The image above is that of a sick patient being taken to the hospital. Carrying the sick in bamboo slings, children walking more than ten kilometers everyday just to reach their schools, elderly walking with baskets weighing more than 50 kgs on mountain slopes for hours together in leech infested forests...This is everyday reality in the North East. If you thought that India Shines, the living conditions of the people in the neglected states- The Seven Sisters of North East, can put us to global shame.

Enter a new IAS officer as Sub Divisional Magistrate, Tamenglong, Manipur. This young person wants to do something fruitful to his poor and downtrodden brethren. Introducing the first IAS Officer from Zeme- Naga tribe of Manipur- Mr. Armstrong Pame! Mr Pame is now hell bent on his dream project- the Tamenglong Haflong Road- the lifeline road of Manipur, entirely constructed by the people, of the people and for the people. This public- built road will form a tri- junction with Nagaland and Assam over the Jiri river. The total road length is 100 kms of which 70 kms have been completed so far. The work has been entirely done by public volunteers of the area who just want to see a road.
Local volunteers clearing forests for the road with their daos, pic courtesy- govinspire.com
Work was stopped midway and now it has resumed. The stretch of  20 kms is yet to be completed. The total cost per meter has been calculated as Rs. 62. If interested in donating to this noble cause, you may kindly visit the link here and click the donate here button. For any queries kindly contact 09953029135.If you can donate Rs. 31,000, a 500 meter stretch of the road could be named after you! This 90 year old man has donated his pension of Rs. 200 per month for 5 months, so that his children and grand children can use a road!
Picture Credit- Mr Armstrong Pame, IAS
You can check out this website too, an interesting initiative by my dear friend Mr. Nagarajan, IAS, District Collector, Banaskantha, Gujarat. There are many young people in the administrative services who love to reach out to the people and help them lead better lives. It is our duty as sincere citizens to support their drive. Interestingly, the pioneer of the Tamenglong Haflong road Mr. Armstrong Pame has been nominated as CNN- IBN Indian of the Year, 2012! Kindly visit this link to know more about him. You can vote for him here! 

Christmas is the season of giving and kindness. Let us make this our Christmas gift to the people by donating to this noble cause. Let us make our Christmas memorable.This is the best Christmas gift these simple and hardworking people can ever get! 

Friday, 23 November 2012

God says...to abort or not to abort?

File picture of Savita Halappanavar from Irish Times
This is one serious topic that i have been contemplating for a long time. The tragic death of Dr Savita Halappanavar in Ireland has intimidated the long burning rage. Who would have thought the Irish laws leaned heavily on religion- Christianity? The Catholic Church is anti- abortion and the Irish law is entirely based on it. The lawmakers are yet to wake from their stupor. Abortion laws differ from country to country, majority of them making it 'legal on request'. Few states require parental consent in case of minors, but in case of clinically injurious pregnancies, a request by the mother would suffice. 

God has given equal rights of life for everyone and that includes unborn fetus too. True. But does not the mother have the right to live? Why do women have to move from country to country to have an abortion done? The law forbids them from aborting their child in their homeland and so they move to other countries that permit! In case of Ireland, pregnant women travel all the way to England to abort. How convenient! The other side of the Sea permits you to abort whereas Ireland does not. And don't think the travel is easy- they won't let you leave the country if they know you are pregnant! All this in the name of protecting the religion? The country? The women? Who are we kidding?

We condole the death of Dr Savita. Her death has inspired tens of thousands in Ireland to take to the streets demanding revamp in the sections 58 and 59. There is one more dark nation that forbids abortion and we know nothing of it, not even a stub in wikipedia dares speak of it- Saudi Arabia! The Gulf nation prohibits abortions- again in the name of God! Oh God! Have mercy! There are many hushed cases of botched abortions, scores of deaths due to unethical termination of pregnancies and quacks who make a fortune out of these poor women. Those who have the money and means, travel across the border to neighboring Bahrain where it is permitted to abort a child. 

For immigrants and those who have no means, an abortion pill can cost you up to 2000 Saudi Riyals in the black market. There are physicists who stealthily distribute them and there are women who flee the country bleeding profusely after  botched abortions. I know of women who were forced to return back to India to have abortions done. Is it not funny we let the Church and Mosques determine the birth or death of a child or that of a mother? It is sheer irony that the religions that respect the life of a child dispose the importance of the life of a mother. 

It is high time we set rules and laws on our conscience than some religious laws rule us. But then that is how we have been brought up- to submit to the whims and fancies of the religion and the so called virtues it professes. I sincerely wish the Irish Government wakes up to the Savita tragedy and amends its laws. As for Saudi Arabia, all i can do is feel sorry for the women, including the expats lodged there...

Thank Heavens, the Indian Abortion laws, the 1971 Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act still holds good, the clauses are clear and the law categorically states that husband has no right over his wife who chooses to terminate her pregnancy on her own. In case of minors, consent of a guardian is sufficient for an abortion. Though sex selective abortions mar the erstwhile women friendly laws, i feel safe and protected in a democratic nation, than the women of the liberated Ireland or conservative Saudi Arabia.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Good sex Bad sex...the Bhatt way!

" Saving yourself for that someone special is like having a car and deciding to drive only on the last day of February of a leap year. Sounds bizarre? Hell, it is bizarre!"- Words of wisdom from Mr Vikram Bhatt- the maker of horror movies. Hell, he'd rather stick to making those horror movies. Or this article in Times dated Nov 11 might be a new script for his fresh Raaz dark horror movie!

Popping the cherry is any person's personal freedom, we do agree and accept. What is done in the confines of four walls between two consenting adults is none of our business. But when horror movie directors jump the gun in advising our teens that "good sex" is important, we have a serious problem here. And it sucks when you say " I am for the test drive", Mr Bhatt. Really not funny. I am not some old aged aunt confined to a concrete jungle of cleaning and house keeping. We are young, we love sex- good one that and we cherish our partner. Everyone loves sex, yes, why not? If someone says they detest it, either they are mentally or physically deranged. It is the 'hit and run' part that keeps me worrying.

Saving oneself for the special someone is an 'option' these days, not a 'rule'. When you say there is 'nothing dirty, nothing sinful, nothing to be guilty about' it shocks me. I am not into moral policing, sir. But if this is the advice you would be giving to the younger ones, i wonder if you are advocating promiscuity. The hell you are not. Carrying a 'guilt' package is unnerving as you say. So what would be a better choice- abstinence or obliviousness? If i had a head on my shoulders, it would be obviously abstinence, Mr Bhatt. 

"When it comes to sex, someone, somewhere in the time gone by decided to regulate an individual's life socially, and we are still suffering"- golden words. Only because of the regulations we are living as social animals, not our Simian cousins on tree tops. Unmindful sex and unwanted children had to be regulated if we were to be a civilized society, Sir. And so do we have an institution called marriage. And then there is something we call 'love'. Or does that really exist amidst all this hullabaloo of premarital sex and consensual sex?

Premarital sex is rampant, accepted. But when there are eminent people like you saying- " If you want to have premarital sex, by all means, have it without a tinge of remorse or guilt", it sucks big time. Preferably save this piece of advise to your daughter or son! Not to everyone else.

Nobody wants to live a life with 'bad sex' so you say, but nobody wants sex with random people in tandem to identify the 'best sex partner'. 'Bad sex' can be rectified with a few visits to a sexologist, but not 'bad piece of s***' you give us as advise. It would be better if you stick to writing ghost stories, Mr Bhatt. They are far better than your newspaper columns. The next time i see the name Vikram Bhatt, it would give me the shivers- not those nerve wracking orgasms as you may think- spooky scary ones;)

To read the full article of Mr Bhatt that gave me the shattering orgasms(!), please click the link.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Queen Of Spades- Part 10

Dust rose from the ground as the two soldiers charged at each other, swords raised. One ducked faster than wind and the blade shone in all elegance. Velunachi smiled from her perch atop the grounds in the upper balcony. She always loved to watch the soldiers- specially her 'Udaiyal' pirivu- womens' wing. She fondly remembered Udaiyal- her warrior daughter whom she held as her own blood. Slowly her thoughts revolved over the Marudhu brothers and Kuyili. Those three friends from Ramnad who had stood by her in every tempest- giving her strength and courage all through. 

Thinking of Marudhu brothers, she watched Kuyili. The dusky damsel stood transfixed, watching the soldiers on the horses fighting each other. Velunachi knew of the weird love triangle- the love Kuyili had for Chinna Marudhu and the secret flame Periya Marudhu held for her. Kuyili seemed oblivious to his charms and Velunachi knew why. Kuyili was besotted with the younger Marudhu. Many a times Velunachi had tried and failed to reason out with the younger Marudhu, but he held to his ground that he never felt anything for Kuyili. Periya Marudhu, the introvert, hid his feelings for Kuyili as usual and this hide and seek was getting weirder day by day. When prodded on wedding, Chinna Marudhu held his ground saying he wanted to marry only on touching the freed land- Sivagangai free of British. 
Marudhu brothers
Sivagangai was now under total control of the British who in turn gave the Nawab of Arcot, their allaince partner, the right to collect taxes from the people. It had been eight long years since the King Muthuvaduganathar was slain and the Queen was unheard of. She was last seen in the forests of Virupakshi long time back. The people had lost all hopes that the Queen would come back for the country. Little did they know that their valiant Queen was preparing an army and allies to fight the intruders. Yet they refused to pay taxes to Nawab of Arcot. Hyder Ali had returned to Mysore and Gopala Naicker was busy training his Palayam's soldiers with gun power and artillery. The Dutch were supporting Velunachi by providing know how in handling guns and producing gun powder.

Amassing the army, training the women soldiers, forging alliance with Gopala Naicker and Hyder Ali, Velunachi had played her game well and was waiting for almost eight years for the right time to bear fruit. The Nawab of Arcot was tired of ruling Sivagangai- the people who failed to pay their taxes. He paid no attention to the state anymore and was more intent on saving his Arcot Kingdom than ruling a lawless land. The British East India Company was unhappy with the lack of taxes from Sivagangai and moved their concentration on Kattabomman and his much greener pasture of Tirunelveli. Velunachi sensed now was the right time. 

The plan was to capture the outposts in Sivagangai Fort first, taking control of the watch towers, blowing the gun powder store and finally launch the attack. Discussing with the allies made Velunachi feel elated. Marudhu brothers were locked in a deep discussion with Gopala Naicker as Velunachi moved from the table for a breather. Sensing someone behind the curtains, she drew her knife. In a swift movement, Kuyili came before her, curtsying and left abruptly. Velunachi was worried about Kuyili these days- she remained aloof in the discussions and tried to be distant. Something worried her and she intended to find out what irked her friend. But first things first, she had a battle plan to look into.

All set and ready, the force of 6000 men and 6000 women started their march from Dindigul to Sivagangai Fort that night. Marudhu brothers led the men on horsebacks and Vleunachi marched with them, hoisted on her favorite horse, dressed in her usual man- boy attire. Udaiyal lead the women contingent- all dressed like men, the women of valor. Gopala Naicker joined the group from Virupakshi with his men and artillery. As per plan, they had preferred a pre-dawn strike. The unsuspecting guards at the outposts fell without a fight and gaining control of the watch towers was an easy task for the Marudhu brothers who lead from the forefront.
Remains of gun powder room built by British in Channapatna, enroute Bangalore to Mysore
Now was the turn of blowing up the gun powder store- locating it was not that hard, one of the captured men himself lead them to the store. The locals willingly joined the forces and fought the Nawab's men and handful of British who were taken by surprise. Velunachi clambered along the Sivagangai tank watching the gunpowder store. The women who had gathered there were cheering, clapping and shouting vehemently as a slender figure doused in oil ran towards the store with a fire torch in her right hand. 

Intrigued, Velunachi stilled and tried to comprehend the scene before her. The figure turned back once, waved and saw Velunachi perched atop her horse. Seeing her, Velunachi stood shocked, chilled to her bone. With a gracious wave and nod at her, Kuyili set herself on fire and jumped inside the powder store. The store exploded shooting above sprays of fire balls and complete mayhem ensued. Velunachi stared at it in utter disbelief and shock. Kuyili had exploded into a hundred pieces....her Kuyili. 

To be continued...
p.s.: Kuyili was the first human suicide bomb in Indian history. Remember, the  Poligar War of Sivagangai took place in 1780!
p.p.s.: Cyclone Neelam is wreaking havoc as i am writing this post. My favorite teak tree has been taken down and rains still lash the windows. Please pray for the safety of our people.
p.p.p.s: I am down with the bug- throat infection and the Mister is having a grand gala time, vetoing all decisions at home:'(

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Queen Of Spades- Part 9

He hated this heat. The sun was scorching mercilessly on his weather beaten face and he disliked the sweat trickling down his shoulder blades. All sticky and dusty, he longed for the cool confines of Mysore. Dindigul and this fort on the hillock just was misery. But resting here, far away from Mysore had him safe, tucked away from the prying British. 

Completing his namaz, he swiftly rose from the prayer rug, closing his eyes and stared long and hard towards Holy Kaba. Mecca! Some day, he would go there. Now that his son Tippu was caring for his homeland, he would one day visit Persia and the Holy Land. Hyder Ali, the Nawab of Mysore one one day perform his rites.
Hyder Ali- Nawab of Mysore
Mehboob Khan strode towards him in careful guided steps and cleared his throat. One look at his face said he was amused by something and Hyder Ali, could not repress his knowing smile. " Salam, Nawab. You have visitors. They are from nearby Sivagangai Kingdom. And funny enough, they have been ousted by the British", he informed. "Let them in", Hyder Ali ordered and slouched further down on his throne. The day was not at all progressing as he had planned. He needed his beauty sleep and this tiny contingent was out to spoil it. Irritation spanned his wrinkled face as he scowled at the people who filed in behind Mehboob Khan.

His eyes were scrutinising her with guided distance, irritation etched in his face was clear. They were quite unwelcome, she understood. But Velunachi had travelled two days, braving the humidity and the unnerving presence of British soldiers stationed everywhere. Dusty, sweaty and dirty, she itched for a shower, but first things first. "Salam Nawab Saheb", she bowed. It took no time for Hyder Ali to sit straight from his reverie and notice the man- boy before him. The voice was certainly not manly, the dress was definitely no give away. Who was this? His interests perturbed, the Nawab watched.

As the fluent Urdu flowed from the pink and lush lips, Nawab Hyder Ali was left with no doubt- this was someone special, very special. He knew instantly it was a woman and asking someone hooded to remove the garb and show the face was against his religious belief. He listened in rapt attention as the woman continued in her mellifluous voice. Whatever she had to say, can wait. She looked like she could use some sleep and food. 

Summoning the guards, the Nawab ordered a feast and bade the weary team some rest in the Fort. From all the information he could gather, the Nawab understood the contingent from Sivagangai had come asking for help. Help against the British? By God, he would! He had retreated from Mysore giving reins to the able hands of his son- Tippu Sultan and now he had nothing to worry. He would teach the British a lesson. 

Velunachi loved the serenity and the comfort of the cool stone walls of the Dindigul Fort. She had sent word through Udaiyal to Gopala Naicker, the King of Virupakshi. Hyder Ali wanted to strike against the British, but he needed to plan carefully. His agent Chanda Sahib ruled over the eighteen palayams around Dindigul, including Virupakshi, but dis not want to enter the warpath with the British without foolproof plan and sufficient manpower. 
Gopala Naicker Memorial- Virupatchi
Velunachi was permitted to stay in Dindigul or Virupakshi Palaces with her consorts by Hyder Ali. Gopala Naicker, King of Virupakshi who already had locked horns with the British over Virupakshi had willingly submitted himself to Chanda Sahib, the brother-in-law of Hyder Ali. He was sure the Nawab would stand by his brother-in-law and fight the British till the end. Velunachi now had all the time in the world- she had the support of Hyder Ali and Gopala Naicker. She just needed men and women for her army. Most importantly, women- a force that was untapped so far. Women force- formidable and lethal. She would show them!

To be continued...

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Queen Of Spades- Part 8

The afternoon sun blazed mercilessly and the goats sauntered gleefully to the shadows of the huge banyan tree. Udaiyal loved to watch the goats scrape each other for the little shadow left. It is always a fight for everyone. Not even the goats are spared, she thought lazily and surveyed the distant boulders for Kannaiyan. Poor fellow, if he were alive now, he would definitely be nursing his wounded back at some quack back in the village. A lazy smile lit up her face, as she remembered the encounter with the village chieftain this morning. 

Udaiyal had been orphaned when she was a little girl, taken care of then by the shepherd who found her in the woods, wailing her little lungs out. He took her as his own, gave her all the little worldly knowledge he could and in turn, Udaiyal took care of his treasure- his goats. Udaiyal grew up a smart and beautiful woman who knew the ways of the world and was very wise for her age. This morning, poor Kannaiyan had tried to follow her to the woods and harassed her as usual. Today he had crossed the limits- it had been too much beyond Udaiyal's patience that was wearing thin day by day. She had sluiced his back with the sickle, totally unexpected and he had ran back to the village yelping in pain. Served him right, she thought ruefully. He would never raise his finger against hapless orphans.

She was absorbed in her thoughts that she failed to notice the unrest among the goats. They looked troubled and she sensed fear. Something was not right. They looked towards the boulders and bleated uncomfortably. Gathering her sickle and valari, she cautiously walked towards the clearing. Her eyes met jet black eyes, deep with rage at her intrusion. 

Kuyili's gaze locked steadily with Udaiyal and she took instant liking to the fire and spirit of the girl. Sizing up the horses and the haggard looking men, Udaiyal sensed trouble. "Who are you people and what are you doing here, in this part of the jungle?", she queried cautiously. " This I must ask you, lady", clipped Kuyili. The two glared at each other with animosity and Velunachi glanced at them, quite amused. 

Listening to the story on how their beloved King was ensnared, trapped and killed by the British, Udaiyal shook with rage. She felt sorry for the poor Queen Velunachi and her trusted aides, now on the run like vagabonds. She vowed secretly to help them. There started a revered friendship- a friendship between an overthrown Queen and a shepherd. Udaiyal ran errands for the small band of men. Marudhu brothers joined them soon and the group swelled in numbers.  Hiding a small army of men within the confines of jungle was not an easy task and Udaiyal felt the pressure as Kannaiyan sought her in private soon. She knew he had some idea of what was happening, though she was very discreet. Yet, word had spread of her huge grocery buy and the large head loads she carried into the jungle.

The sun was setting beautifully and Udaiyal clambered along the hillside, carrying the rug-sack on her shoulder, wincing. Kannaiyan followed her at a safe distance. Unusual ruffling of leaves brought Velunachi up from her reverie and she surveyed the forests from above the tree where she was perched. Her eyes immediately settled on Kannaiyan following Udaiyal unawares and she  hooted thrice. Marudhu brothers swung into action hearing the hoots and in no time, Kannaiyan was overpowered, thrown to the ground and pinned by the formidable duo. Eyes blazing with anger, Velunachi reached the restrained man and eyed him with thorough disgust. "Tie him to the horses  face down and throw him away into the jungle", she grunted. 

Udaiyal, so happy to be safe finally from the chieftain, invited the group to the village. After almost a week toiling in the forests, the group left for Virupakshi village and remained there, amassing men and materials for the army. That was when Velunachi commissioned her own group of dedicated women soldiers- named " Udaiyal pirivu" named after her beloved Udaiyal, the girl whom she considered her adopted daughter! And now came the ripe time- payback time! Marudhu brothers came from Dindigul with the happy news that Velunachi had been waiting for months- King Hyder Ali had camped in Dindigul! Now was her chance!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Queen of Spades- Part 7

The crimson river flowed like liquid silk, its waves lapping the shores. Velu Nachi loved spending her leisure these days in solitude, reminiscing her maiden days in Sivaganga Palace. The images of Muthuvaduganathan swam by, she felt a faint pressure building on her temples. This day right from dawn had not been right. Something was eerily wrong and she couldn't put her finger on it. Muthuvaduganathan had left with Poongodi and her daughter for Kalaiyar Koil in the early hours, she was not even informed of it. Poongodi tried to maintain a safe distance from her in the Royal Harem and Velunachi loved the distance. She did not oppose her presence nor did she acknowledge the maid turned Queen. 

She could never forgive Muthu for what he had done to her. It had been days since they both had spoken to each other, even seen other except for those rare occasions when Muthu visited the little Princess Vellachi. The only place she sought refuge was the horse stable. She remained aloof to her friends too who on the other hand tried everything to make her happy. She refused to go on short trips to the forests with them, she was totally  stranger to herself, cocooned in the safety of her own thoughts.

The horse rider galloped at full speed and jumped off it, sending a whiff of dust upward. Twenty to thirty men stood behind, their horses fully mounted and battle- ready. Velunachi woke from her slumber and strained her eyes on the rider. Periya Marudhu strode toward her, his face a complete mask. Something must be wrong, she knew the instant she saw him. " We must leave at once to Kalaiyar Koil, Queen", he clipped and looked away. Without  a word, she mounted the stallion, motioning him to follow. Kuyili was mounted on another horse with the little Princess Vellachi Nachi on her back. With a curt nod to Kuyili and Periya Marudhu, she turned her horse towards Kaliayar Koil and kicked to a full gallop. 

Having changed to her men's attire enroute, with a sword and valari tucked under her belt, Velu Nachi looked thunderous. The mustache drawn with kohl, she resemled every bit the Velunachi of olden days. The entrance to Kaliyar Koil was littered with huge boulders that served as barricades and the small group dissolved into numbers of two or three and merged with the curious onlookers. The first sight of the temple Dwaras was the British flag fluttering and the cannons stationed on the Fort walls. With face covered, the Marudhu brothers in front nd Kuyili following her, Velunachi slowly closed in on the temple's outer praharam. The streets around the temple were filled with people, whispering and pointing towrds the temple. 

As the temple main entrance came to view, she could see Colonels Benjour and Joseph Smith relishing the sight before them. Slain soldiers lay in a pool of blood, there were severed limbs and swords, some hands still holding the swords. Standing with the crowd, Velunachi peered further and her heart almost stopped at the sight of three bodies hanging from the mast. The slain King of Sivagangai hung in the middle, flanked by his Queen Poongodi and little daughter. Hands trembling, Velunachi gripped her reins tight. She jumped down, motioning the Marudhu brothers to stay put and moved in for a closer look. No doubt, Muthuvaduganathan was dead. Her eyes turned to the two British men, spewing venom. Marudhu brothers slowly broke away from the crowd with the Princess on their back, gesturing to Kuyili. 

Velunachi felt the tug from Kuyili and grabbed a handful of soil from the ground and closed her eyes- this is what the British wanted. The right to rule their land- Her land. The Dutch were too busy with trade and handling the attacks of British in every Kingdom down south that they failed to save their close aide- Muthuvaduganathar. From the looks of it, the attack had been well planned and executed, with two companies of the British attacking from the East and west simultaneously. I will retrieve my land from them and i shall avenge the death of my King- she said to herself, tied the soil in a towel, flung it on her back. With a nod to Kuyili, she silently slipped away from the crowd.

Miles and miles of galloping into the forests of Keeranur and Cholapuram, they felt the presence of the British everywhere. Infiltration had been well planned, she thought. The tired horses needed a break and the Marudhu brothers were nowhere in sight, though few other men had picked up with them under  Thandavaraya Pillai. Seeing a patch of boulders surrounding a clearing, she slowed down. Taking cue, the men stayed back beyond the boulders, easing off their horses and started to pitch tents. Kuyili looked at the dust blotched face of the queen and felt a pang of sadness. On the run like cowards, they were now in hiding. If discovered, she knew what awaited the Queen. 

Peace at last, Velunachi thought. She now had some time to recover, think and plan. Beyond her, there lay vast expanse of wilderness, cock-spur thorns dotting the parched dry land. What life lay for her? She did not know. What future held for her? She had lost her husband. Her Muthu, whom she despised during the last few days, yet she loved him in a strange way. The King of Sivaganga was dead, the Queen and Princess were now running for their lives in the forests. What could she do? What was in store for her? Questions clouded her mind and sanity, as she stared vacantly at the thorny bushes and dry forest.

p.s.: Profusely apologizing for the late post, had a departmental exam that kept me quite busy. Sincere apologies to the person who is going to evaluate my paper- meet you at the psychiatrist:P

p.p.s.: I hate the seventeen hour a day power cuts:( My alternate source of energy will be gobar gas produced indigenous;)))

p.p.p.s.: What makes Irish men and their whiskey so special?;) Some one tell me:P

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Virgin is IN!

Ah! 18 again! 

Isn't that lovely? To feel young, carefree and energetic and ahem... virgin ? Your 30 plus body fails to respond to the whims and fancies of your 18 year old tiny heart that likes to skip, hop, jump and to 'tighten'. Fasten your waist belts or rather your panties 'tight', ladies- the 'tight' is here! Hola! You can snap your finger at the hapless male whom you have been despising all your life, you are 'tight'. Crawling on his knees and panting he would now run the household, when you- the 'liberated' can click away on your high heels, flashing the errrr...tight glory hole!

The whole country goes gaga over it! At parties where hush-hush of forty plus aunts and career women in their lunch breaks of nondescript offices where rumor mills worked overtime are now teeming with 'information' on the tights. Feminists and neo-feminists, masochists- everyone alike is scouring information on the revolution- Tight is IN! You are an innocent housewife stuck in time machine, cleaning, cooking and shedding tears watching soaps when it dawns on you. The full page advertisement beckoning you to the "world of 18 again" on Sunday Times interests you.

The women of India are now 'liberated', thanks to the 'yummy mummies' who flaunt their reed thin bodies in twitter and 'silicon beauties' who strip and flash in every tabloid. Fifty shades of grey is the new Holy Book and here comes the Holy Gel to anoint you- the 18 again cream. Ah, and it comes in discreet packaging as the website claims! And that too at a throw away price of Rs. 7290/- Wow...the cost enough to run a family of four for a month, as per our 'planning commission chief'. 

Nose jobs, 'extra' fittings, lip pouts, liposuctions- what not to get the 'killer looks'? Women don't worry about the number of times they go through the knife- they are bothered about the 'rejults'. See our own Shilpa Shetty- she had the priced catch, post the nose job! Raj wouldn't mind the nose when it looks tiny on a grown face. Boney doesn't mind Sridevi's you see! After all the outer shells, now they crack the ice- creams and gels to enhance inner tightening!

Do you mind if 70% of girl children in the BPL depend on their free sanitary napkins issued by the government to tide away those 'three' days? Nah. Why would you? You sink in Poison, have multiple cosmetic surgeries, wear designer labels and drive flashy cars and poor men with equal aplomb! The only missing part in the puzzle is now gifted to you- the vaginal tightening gel! Now that you got all that you wanted, Dr Macmohan would now be offering his prayers fearing repetition of Togo's fiasco. Perhaps women can gain expert advise on 'withholding sex' from Togolese women who are on a sex strike against their President. Crossing the legs, spreading 18 again and refusing sex at home can make someone SPEAK!!! How liberating! How exhilarating! 

Let us embrace 18 again and attain 'inner' nirvana! All at the cost of 7000 bucks. Oh, the ingredients of the cream- gold(?), aloe vera, pomegranate, almonds, dhataki, vallarai ( centella), almost the ingredients of a 'different' curry, except the gold part makes it deliciously edible too!! Good luck, women of India, say bye bye to lose skin, welcome 'tight' liberation! Regain your virginity, that is imperative than your freedom!

For those poor souls who can't understand a single line of this 'intellectual' blabber, go through this 18 again advertisement!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Queen Of Spades- Part 6

The smell of fresh hay and hushed whispers of men resounded through the Royal Stable. Kuyili was breathless as she sprinted towards Chinna Marudhu who was petting his black stallion. " I need to talk to you", she sounded so desperate and Chinna Marudhu viewed the stable. The men had stopped their whispers. All eyes focused on her. He hated it when she came like this, spoiling his work. He knew how Periya Marudhu's eyes lighted up on seeing her, how he threw furtive glances at her and how he sought flimsy excuses to enter the maids' quarters to look at her. Kuyili's unwarranted attention on him was unnerving. He despised her. Hated her. Loved her!

He nodded his head and taking his cue, she rushed to the Royal orchard nearby. He followed suit and hissed, " Don't you ever dare disturb me when at work. Why don't you seek Periya Marudhu if the issue is so important?" Kuyili looked visibly offended, she cringed. " I looked for him in the stables. He is away on some errand. Listen, we shall fight later. Something important has come up", she said. " Rumors are doing the rounds in maids' quarters. King Muthu had invited Poonguzhali to his Harem and she is on her way, dolled up as a bride!" Chinna Marudhu felt his head reeling and the world spinning. How could he? He loved Velu Nachi so much. That wretched Royal blood! He thinks he could  just walk away? How could he take on a mistress when the Queen herself was nursing a new- born?
"There comes father"- oil painting Raja Ravi varma- courtesy cyberkerala.net
" Does the Queen know?", he asked, his voice pained. " No, i intend to inform her now", she replied. He stood rooted, contemplating what to do next. Sending a message to Ramnad Palace would be of no use, the messenger would reach there in two days time. Something had to be done, fast. " Come, let us meet the Queen", he clipped. Both of them were just in time to see the King entering Velu Nachi's chamber. Puzzled, they decided to wait for the Queen. Periya Marudhu had whiff of the rumor and he too raced to Velu Nachi's chamber only to stare silently at the other two friends waiting outside.  A few moments of tense silence gripped them and they saw King Muthuvaduganathan leaving the chamber. 

All the three pounced inside the room to find the Queen seated by the window,   her face devoid of any expression, totally masked. " Don't you worry, Queen. I shall behead that vile serpent of a woman", Chinna Marudhu thundered, his face red with fury. " Don't you dare!", yelled Periya Marudhu. " Let us see what plan the Queen has devised." Silence. She stood up slowly, her eyes never wavering from the horizon extended far. " If the King prefers a maid over me, so be it. I wish this matter is left as such. If i need any help, i would definitely call my trusted friends". With these words, she nodded her head towards the door. Unable to discuss anymore, the trio marched out. Velu Nachi remained shut indoors for many more weeks. The King of Ramnad visited the Sivagangai Queen, but was helpless to do anything, against his daughter's wishes.

Poongodi continued to receive the unwavering attention of the King, yet he forbade her from attending the Royal Court. It was here did Velu Nachi find her solace. She was an ardent orator, an able administrator and a versatile woman. Muthu liked her long debates with courtiers, her vision for development, her affinity to the French travelers and Portuguese traders. It gave him immense pleasure to watch her at Court, as she had totally shut him out from her private chamber. His 'romance' with Poongodi did wear off soon, as she gave birth to a girl child. 
"Looking into the mirror"- Raja Ravivarma- courtesy cyberkerala.net
Velu Nachi took great care of her toddler, spending every moment alive, with the little one. As years passed, the little one grew brave and valiant- Vellachi Nachiyar, the Princess of Sivagangai. Unable to bear the loneliness, Velu Nachi adopted a girl child, named her Udaiyal and brought her up as her own, much to the chagrin of the King. Her affinity to the French lead King Muthuvaduganathar to invite the French Generals for know-how on warfare. The Sivagangai army learnt to make guns, gun powder and were building the fort with mortars and shells. The soldiers used to swords and valaris learnt the trick of handling the guns and mortars from the French. 

News of the French interests in Sivagangai went to the notice of one man who vowed to fight the French till his last breath- Nawab of Arcot, Muhammad Ali Khan. He had planned revenge on the French who killed his grandfather Anwaruddin Muhammad Khan in a fierce battle.  His father Chanda Sahib ruled for a very short span under the French, losing crores in taxes to them. Hyder Ali of Mysore was too big a threat to ignore and Muhammad Ali sought the help of the British, who in turn helped him regain the Throne from the French. 
Death of Nawab of Arcot- Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan in battle against French
Painting by Paul Philipoteaux
Unaware that the British eyes were roving over his Kingdom, King Muthuvaduganathar entertained the French, inviting the wrath of the British and the Nawab of Arcot. The British along with the Nawab were planning a mid day raid on Kalaiyarkoil Temple of Sivagangai.The King of Sivagangai walked straight into their traps with Poongodi and his daughter from her.

To be continued... 

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Queen Of Spades- Part 5

The solitary lamp in his chamber did nothing to hide her beauty, Muthu thought. A lock of hair dancing to its own music kissing her ear lobe, arched eye brows twisting, huge expressive eyes shining like embers stoked by love and lips luscious and a full mouth- she could pass easily as a painting from the bygone era. "I just have one request, King"- Velunachi implored. " And what would that be?", he queried. " I have grown up together with my friends- Kuyili and Marudhu brothers. We have spent every living moment together and my only wish is that we remain together for the rest of our lives", she muttered, twisting and untwisting the pallu of her saree. Saying this, she stared intently at his face.

He had expected her to demand anything- the stars shining in the eastern horizon, the pearls of Middle East, the fabric from China- he was ready to give her anything- to his Princess- the to be Queen of Sivagangai. And all she asked was to have her bunch of friends with her? The woman never posed a serious threat, but the Marudhu brothers? He had to do some serious thinking. But for now, he would go by her wishes. Let  her be happy for now. His firm mouth curved in a mischievous smile as he looked at the beauty seated nearby. " Do i have a choice, when my sweet heart has asked me a favor?", he asked. It was exactly that second there was urgent knocks on the door. Whispers were heard and as Muthu opened the doors, the Marudhu brothers tumbled right in.

" I am sorry, O King!," Periya Marudhu fumbled at his head dress. " We were supposed to take the Princess back as soon as possible. The whole of Ramnad would now be rife with rumors about the missing Princess. If you would permit us to leave, we would be glad to move in the dusk," he continued. " Sure. Please take Velunachi safely back to Ramnad, but this time around, do take her on her horse. Send me a message when you reach the Palace," Muthu ordered. With one last longing glance at him, Velunachi breezed past in a short, confident stride.

The Ramnad Palace was bristling with anxiety and when Kuyili saw the three figures mounted on stallions riding at top speed towards the Palace two days later, she heaved a sigh of relief. King Chellamuthu Sethupathy was definitely a worried man. Though he knew of the antics of his daughter, this stunt, visiting the groom unannounced and unknown to anyone in the Palace, left him seething in anger. All this anger melted seeing his daughter accompanied by Marudhu brothers. She now wore the look of a peaceful, radiant and happy woman, not the barely impulsive girl he saw the previous week. The change in her made him glad- very glad.

The wedding in all grandeur took place on the sprawling lawns of Sivagangai Palace. Decorated with flowers, garlands and bedecked with jewels the bride resembled a Goddess. King Muthuvaduganathan could not get enough of staring at her- his Queen. The pearls in her aram were no match to her pearly white teeth that flashed with every smile. The diamonds in her ear rings failed to match the sparkle in her love-lit eyes and her ruby necklaces looked dim in comparison to her crimson lips, carved in perpetual smile. He was very happy, except for the one instance when she insisted on the Marudhu brothers being seated in the front row for the rituals. Too much of importance to laymen, especially soldiers not from the clan irked Muthu. He will sure see to it later. With an imperial wave and occasional glances at his new wife, he barely tolerated the ceremony. 

The festival of wedding continued well for over three days and by the time her parents left with tears brimming in their eyes, Velunachi felt tired and sick. The look at her friends who stood watching her intently brought a lump to her throat. They had left behind a life in Ramnad, simply to be with her- their little Princess. She vowed never to let them down- her own trusted friends. The days that followed were Heaven, she reveled in the love showered on her by Muthu. Months rolled by and the birth of a beautiful daughter, a token of her love made the Queen ecstatic. What more could she ask for- a loving husband, the title of a Queen, trusted friends by her side and a cherubic daughter. She had all the happiness in the world and was blinded by it somewhere in the middle. So when Kuyili informed her of the King's supposed second marriage to Poongodinachi of Sivagangai, Velunachi was shattered.

To be continued...

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Queen Of Spades- Part 4

The crimson rays of the setting sun played hide and seek along the silent corridors of Ramnad Palace. Somewhere a lone koel cooed its melancholy, the sound resonating in the chamber of Velunachi. Never in her life was she so troubled, perplexed and happy at the same time. A myriad of feelings threatened to burst inside her. The very sight at the painting by the window made her heart ache in unrequited love. How dare he? 

Being the King of Sivagangai did not give him the key to her heart, did it? He knew her, had taunted her, played with her feelings knowing her identity. She had been so naive, never having the chance to even glance at the sleek, silky skin and rock solid muscle that rippled all over his body. She could remember  vividly the quirky smile, the laughter that reached the eyes every time he looked at her. The mischief that shone in his eyes- like a kid enjoying his secret jar of candies unknown to anyone...

She tossed around one more time on the sheets that felt like liquid fire. Kuyili walked in graciously, watching the Princess on fire. Amusement danced in her dark unfathomable eyes and with her agile fingers she closed Velunachi's eyes from behind. "Kuyili!" exclaimed Velunachi happily, she welcomed the merry company. "How did you know it was me?", Kuyili mused and looked at her radiant face. Even if she were dead she could identify  her dearest friend, wouldn't she? Kuyili stealthily glanced at the portrait and said- " I see it is still perched on your window sill. So, does that mean you are pining for the King, Princess?" 

Ah...there she asked it, Velunachi thought. She bit her lower lip a moment and thought a long time before answering- " I don't know if i love him or not, Kuyili. Like him, yes i do. Even a woman blind would fall for his heroics and kind heart. But love is something that needs more time and i am afraid i can't do that unless i get to know him more." Kuyili understood her predicament. " Would you like to meet him once before the wedding gets through, Princess?", she asked. 

Another meeting with him? Velunachi prayed for one, but did not know how or when and where. She had blown her cover the last time, yet now she wanted Muthu to view her as a lady- someone beautiful, lively and vibrant with life. " Can it be arranged?" she queired, her eyes giving away her feelings. Kuyili smiled at her friend's dilemma and the two women started chalking out a wicked plan! 

Meanwhile the wedding plans were drawn swiftly by King Sethupathy. He wanted to gift huge amount of gold and silver to his son-in-law. The Queen was busy ordering jewels for her lovely daughter and days rushed past. Velunachi seldom ventured out of her chamber, spending her time mooning and relishing her image on the mirror. The Queen was happy with what she saw- the transformation of her adamant and childish Princess turn into a lovelorn damsel. 

King Chellamuthu received the Royal party at his Durbar Hall. The ageing widowed mother of Muthuvaduganathan, many of their close relatives, their friends, commanders and soldiers filled the grand hall and the King was filled with pride. After sumptuous meal, the party rested for the evening and Queen Mother met the Princess. One look at her, she knew why her son looked so besotted. So in love! Garbed in silks, bedecked with pearls, diamonds, emeralds and rubies, Velunachi took her breath away. When she presented Velunachi the delicately carved ivory box containing the most beautiful exquisite sapphire and diamond raakodi,( hair ornament) a gift from Muthuvaduganathan, the Princess blinked back happy tears. So he had indeed seen her long tresses! The engagement function went smooth without ag glitch with dance and music performances throughout the night. Fireworks lit up the starry skies and yet, Velunachi remained pensive. She plastered a smile for everyone to see while all she wanted were a few quite moments with Muthu, who remained back in Sivagangai. 

King Chellamuthu had ordered sweets, savories, fruits and jewels as return gifts to be sent from Ramnad to Sivagangai. Forty huge cauldrons of sweets and savories left the next morning with the party for Sivagangai. And guarding the jewels and gifts went the Marudhu brothers, riding side by side, keeping a watchful eye on the carts that carried the bounty. Two days later the wedding party reached the Sivagangai Palace and the cauldrons were received at the Royal Madapalli ( kitchen), except for one. The Marudhu brothers carried the cauldron themselves to the King's Chamber claiming it as personal gift from the Princess to the King. 

A beaming Muthuvaduganathan rushed to his room, sending his aides away. Marudhu brothers loomed large and with a wicked chuckle, he bade them a hasty goodbye and raced to the cauldron. Knowing the spitfire Velunachi, he presumed what was his gift...Why not play a game, he mused to himself. He ordered ten pots of water which arrived in no time. He threw in the first pot of water in the straw covered cauldron and waited. Nothing! In went the second, third and fourth in quick succession- nothing happened. Now he started to worry, what if the cauldron held something other than the beautiful Princess? Panicking, he removed the straw quickly and much to his relief and amusement, drenched completely and chattering profusely, crouched inside the Princess of Ramnad!

As he extended his hand to pull her out, Velunachi ignored it completely and climbed out of the cauldron slowly in a sensuous movement. Her hips swaying, her loose tangled hair dripping tiny droplets of water, her face devoid of expression and the thin silk saree draped around her clinging to her curves, she made a picture no man could dream of! Muthu watched her in silent rapture, his pulse kicking, his Adam's apple bobbing and a film of thin sweat breaking on his forehead. She looked so desirable that his imaginations did  wild things to his otherwise sane mind. He had seen from a distance that she was indeed a beauty, but nothing prepared him for this rendezvous- the woman of his dreams just a yard away wet and shining in her primitive beauty. Wet...oh my, she is wet. What a man i am, my thoughts go gallivanting when she is wet and jittery, Muthu admonished his cruel mind and cleared his throat. " You are wet, Princess. Why don't you...", his sentence hung mid-air as an angry Velunachi lunged at him.

Losing balance at the sudden onslaught, he toppled on the bed, spreadeagled with the wet Princess on top. " How cruel of you", she hissed, " you knew i was in that cauldron, yet you poured pots of water into it. Shame on you, King." Muthu's lips curved in a wicked smile," Oh..so you are angry? I love the punishment, though, little one," he laughed. Only then did Velunachi realize her mistake and tried to roll away. Muthu held her in his tight embrace, did not budge even an inch in releasing her. They rolled along, she trying to break free and he, pulling her more closer. She gave up finally, looked up at his tanned angular face and was mesmerized by the two big soft eyes brimming with love, focused on her. 

Muthu lay transfixed by the beauty splayed over him, her long lustrous hair cascading, her huge eyes intently watching him with luscious lips parted and labored breaths rocking her. It felt nice to rest on something so male and strong, she thought absently, her eyes never wavering from his face. As if in a trance, he pulled her face to him and stopped short when she closed her eyes savoring his attention. He kissed her temples, her closed eyelids, forehead, nose while she lay compliant. She rocked a little when he kissed her earlobe and almost moaned when his lips caught hers in a passionate soul breaking kiss...

Velunachi broke free, came up for air and with strides matching a Queen, pulled a towel from the supplies and started drying her hair. Muthu turned over and watched with eager eyes as the she dried herself. He got up, moved towards her and pulled her into his warm embrace again. Velunachi wanted him to never stop, she loved this new experience, his touch, his love. But she had other things in her mind- things more important, that had to be discussed. As a hungry Muthu planted a kiss on her mouth, she pushed him away. " We need to talk," she gestured him to sit. Confused, the King sat down to listen what this little firebrand had to say.

To be continued...
The images here are paintings of Raja Ravivarma, courtesy- cyberkerala.com.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Queen Of Spades- Part 3

The last day of the Thai Poosam festival reverberated with religious fervor and gaiety. Muthuvaduganathan was happy that everything so far had gone well with his duty and very well with his personal life. The days that ensued after he saw the beauty by the pond made him sulk and brood. He was not his real self, counting the innumerable stars at night and longing for fervent glimpse of the teenager without mustache on the horseback. He never failed to amuse Muthu, starting from his French songs to his mastery in calming down the elephants! Elephants? Yes, he witnessed the astounding feet of his secret love, Velu Nachi handling the temple elephant as if it were some child's toy. 

The day before the festival, Muthu knew if he didn't confront the fiery maiden he would never sleep in peace and staggered slowly towards the two mustache devoid men munching nuts, lying on the meadow by the pond and chatting. One look at Velunachi and her delicate features covered carefully in dhoti, he almost burst out laughing. Velunachi and Kuyili looked up at the man towering over them. Kuyili's senses alerted the very moment and her hand clutched the concealed dagger with full might.

 " Enjoying the sun and breeze, aren't you? You kids?", Muthu drawled, his eyes locked fierce with Velunachis'. " Yes...and will you stop calling us kids?", Velunachi hissed with her eyes shooting daggers at him. Muthu felt a strange stirring in his belly and a mischievous grin escaped his lips. Tying his horse to the banyan tree, he placed his head gear and towels near the two bewildered lads. Playfully, he started undressing. " This heat is unbearable. Almost too much for this time of the year, what do you say, little one?", he quipped. 

Kuyili was wondering what kept the Princess from getting up and leaving the place. She was always spitfire- Tempest. What kept her from running away from this vile person? She was indignant. When she turned around and looked at her friend, she was astonished. Velunachi was spellbound, sat as if in a trance as the bare chested Muthu continued undressing. A scar ran all through his right upper torso which looked like a sword had sluiced through his body. And yet, he looked devilishly delectable...Oh no! Kuyili rushed to Velunachi and with a mighty pinch, brought her back to normal. With eyes still locked to his, Velunachi moved in abandon as pulled by Kuyili to the horses. Even as they mounted the horses and rode out, Velunachi had eyes only for him.

When Maruthu brothers learnt of this little escapade from Kuyili, they were definitely not happy. How dare he? Some man to undress in front of the Princess of Ramnad! They had to teach him a lesson. And they would do it tomorrow- the Thai Poosam, the day that marked the death of Soorapadma. And they would do it without knowledge of the Princess, they vowed.

Devotees in droves rushed past the temple praharas with tonsured heads. The Kavadis were getting ready, few devotees were skewing tiny vels ( sharp spear) in their mouths with the chant Muruga...Muruga...Maruthu brothers broke apart from the women and hid behind one of the many pillars, awaiting Muthu. Muthuvaduganathan loved to be a commoner, to participate in the lives of his subjects and he wished to remain unnoticed. Thai Poosam festival pulled a huge crowd and he knew he was in grave danger if he ventured out, he would be a sitting duck to the French, British and Portuguese who had captured parts of their Kingdom. Clad in a commoner's clothes, his face smeared with sacred ash, he and his dutiful guards merged with the crowd that was now swelling into thousands with the chants.

It was Chinna Maruthu who first spotted the broad- chested macho man in the procession. As the procession drew near, in a swift motion, his hands closed on the wrist of Muthu, whom he turned towards him. Muthu felt the cold metal blade on his waist even before he turned to face his attacker. Seeing the fuming Maruthu brothers, he realised this was a warning to him for what transpired by the pond. Smiling to himself, he decided to play along. " I don't know why you are cornering me. I am a simple trader, I don't even know you", he wailed. Periyamaruthu grunted - " Enough! Stop your games. We know what you tried to do to our friends by the pond yesterday. One more look at them, i shall gouge your silly eyes out." 

Muthu was taken aback by the genuine anger in his voice and tried to calm him. " Easy...easy. What wrong did i do? I just took bath when two young lads were idling away. Is that wrong? Are we men not supposed to undress and bath in the company of men? How strange!" The brothers stood dumbstruck a moment and Chinna Maruthu loosened his grip on Muthu's wrist. Only then did the brothers notice that they were encircled by a group of plainclothesmen from all directions.

 As Muthu gestured to them to back off, they slithered back with a look of aggression writ large over their faces. Whoever this was, he was not to be messed up with, thought Periya Maruthu. This was not the time nor the place to prove their might and power. The Princess was now in their care and they had the duty of safely returning her back to the Kingdom. This man, can wait. With a last angry look, the duo slipped into the crowd.

All the while, Muthu had been laughing to himself. The predicament of the brothers humored him and their love for their Princess awed him. His eyes scanned the crowd for the lithe lad and he spotted him a few yards away. Behind him, Maruthu brothers closed in menacingly. For now, he had no choice. He had to let her go. But by God, he will get her- marry her. With a last forlorn look at her, he moved away. 

By the time the Princess was back in the palace, strange things had happened. Queen Sakandimuthal was dizzy with happiness. Her little daughter's hand had been asked for in marriage and that too to the King of Sivagangai! The messenger from Sivagangai was smothered with food and wine. King Sethupathy felt relieved and glad. Peculiarly, the King of Sivagangai- Muthuvaduganathan had sent a portrait of him to be shown to the Princess, through the messenger. It was strange that the face was covered by an iron mask.

Velunachi was not the same girl who left the palace for Kalaiyarkovil few days ago. She was mellow, subdued and dreamy. The mother noted the changes in her daughter like quicksilver. Something in her little one had transformed. Velunachi thought day in and day out of the tall brooding stranger she met by the pond. She longed to see him again, but could not till she left for Ramnad. The man had simply vanished in thin air. She wished she knew his name. When the King sought to meet her in her chamber, she was nonchalant. She noted a covered easel adorning the corner of her chamber. When did this arrive? Whose painting is it? she thought absently. " I am so happy for you my child. The King of Sivagangai has sent word that he wants to marry you!", said Sethupathy, who was almost breathless. 

The words "King of Sivagangai" and "marry" registered slowly as she turned around to her father, trying to focus on what was being said to her. The King had wanted an early wedding, probably by next month. She nodded her head as if in a trance and Sethupathy continued to talk of his soon to be son-in-law. With a word that the King had sent her the painting in the corner as her gift, a beaming Sethupathy left the room. Wedding? So soon? She had never thought of it. Velunachi took a long breath and pulled her unwilling legs to the painting. Flipping over the cover, she took in the masked face that revealed thundering jet black eyes. Eyes that reminded her of a stormy night. Eyes that pulled her into their unfathomable depths. As her eyes glided slowly towards the open bare chest, she felt the whole world spin. The earth beneath her slid and with a shriek, she fell on the floor with a thud, unconscious...

The dull red scar ran along the right torso of the man in the painting...
To be continued...
p.s.: The paintings attached here are masterpieces of King Ravi Varma, the first one is the Lady by the moonlight, the second one is Contemplation. Courtesy: cyberkerala.com

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Queen Of Spades- Part 2

The early morning sunrise in the forests of Sakkanthi was purely magical. Mist floating by, jungle fowls announcing the start of the day and crisp morning air- Velu Nachi loved her time out in the wild. What day it was? She tried to remember- Saturday. Wasn't she supposed to have her language classes today? Jumping with a start, she gently touched Kuyili sleeping nearby. The Maruthu brothers had already washed up and were waiting for the women to get ready. The horses trotted in a uniform rhythm towards Ramnad Palace. The King was already waiting for her in her chamber, fuming in anger. Not a good sign, she mused. It always amused her no extent when the King got angry. She loved the thrill it gave her! By the time she got an earful for the escapade of previous night, her tutor Bismillah Khan was awaiting her.

King Chellamuthu had high hopes for his only daughter- by God, he only knew she was going to rule the land one day and he pinned all his hopes on her. Urdu, English, Portuguese, French, Malayalam, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada- you name the language, Velu Nachi had been tutored. She was well behaved, stunningly beautiful with healthy robust features, fearless and brave- everything he had wanted her to be- but a little too much playful. He smiled as he heard the hysterical shrieks of Bismillah Khan from the library. In quick steps he reached the room to find him standing tip toe on the table and his daughter sporting a live snake writhing in her hand. A harmless  tiny garden snake, but that was enough to terrify Bismillah Khan. The library echoed with his shrill cries and his daughter's tinkling laughter. Hiding a knowing smile, King Chellamuthu moved away to the main Durbar Hall. He had to plan his daughter's wedding! God had his own plans...
Kalaiyar Kovil temple- Sivagangai
Kalaiyar Kovil was buzzing with activity. It was the month of Thai, the temple was getting a facelift for ensuing Thaipoosam Festival. King of Sivagangai had ordered the cleaning of the premises, with dozens of volunteers taking up the task. Scores of saree clad women were seen cleaning the temple, with the men roaming around, dusting and washing. Muthu and his two friends were busy overseeing the work. Happiness spread across their cheerful faces, little ones ran around. The four men on horse back arrived tired and aghast. The men turned to look at them and continued their work. The women felt sorry for the tired travelers and offered buttermilk in clay pots. While two of them staggered along with the women and the other two men lingering behind, Muthu felt something was not right with the group. What work did men have in cleaning with the women? 

He rushed past the women, to face straight into the eyes of one of them holding the hand of a young woman. "How dare you touch a woman? That too some one who you don't even know? Who are you?", Muthu thundered at the lithe, tall man. The newcomer's look went from startled to mischief when he replied- " I am Velu. Since when did the women of Sivagangai need the help of men in safeguarding themselves?" His voice seemed a bit unearthly, a little more than a whisper. Stunned at the straight reply aimed at him, Muthu stumbled a bit, recovered fast and hissed- " I am incharge here and answerable to the King. Do you understand? Now move yourself out of the way, get back to where the menfolk are", he grumbled. Startled, the duo moved to the group of men and started chit chatting. 

Muthu's eyes never wavered from the face of the man who answered him. His turban and mustache-less face seemed so arresting, that he felt his mouth go dry. He gently chided himself- may be he should have listened to his mother and married earlier. He motioned to his aides and gestured towards the foursome. Message understood, they nodded and left. The weary travelers got some rest in the local restrooms- chathrams. The evening at the temple wore a festive mood as the local archers competed for the coveted prize- a bag of gold coins offered by the King of Sivagangai himself. Jubilant bystanders cheered the archers who tried to strike the target. Most of them failed- due to the darkness that enveloped the arena. Muthu stood quietly watching the crowd carefully, particularly the colorful red turban sporting lad without mustache. 

The whole evening he was unable to move his eyes away from him. When the little lad went up to pick his bow and arrows, Muthu felt all his senses on alert. Aim made and with total concentration, Velu stuck. The arrow darted and straight at the target. The crowd cheered and Muthu could not but admire the deftness and concentration of the lad. As the local Chieftain awarded the prize, Velu stood still, his face beaming. Quite unusual, Muthu thought. Some man standing so aloof winning a bag of gold...Muthu had his own doubts. He himself was going to watch this one, alright. When the foursome started their journey back from the temple to the restroom, they failed to notice Muthu following them stealthily at a safe distance. Velu wanted a dip in the pond after the humid day. Bidding goodbye to the friends at the chathram, the horse turned towards the allikulam pond, with Muthu in hot pursuit. So, he is going alone somewhere. I shall find out who he is, today, thought Muthu. 

The figure alighted from the horse in a swift gracious movement, removed the turban and Muthu could see tufts of hair tumbling down the turban in the darkness. Long hair to the hips swung and as the figure slowly undressed, Muthu was breathless and speechless. Velu Nachi, unaware of the watchful eyes, dived into the cool soothing water, turned back facing the star clad sky and started singing a chanson in French, eyes closed. Muthu stood mesmerised by her beauty and her voice. He forgot who he was and what he was doing, watching over a lovely maiden bathing in the moonlight and the crystal clear waters. 

By the time a mellowed and soothed Velu Nachi walked out of the pool with tiny rivulets of water dripping from her body, Muthu was half dead in desire and wanton. Unfazed and unaware of him, Velu Nachi dressed up, mounted her horse and rode away, her chanton still echoing in his ears. The archery skill, horse riding skill, French prowess, she had to be none other than the famed Velu Nachiar, Princess of Ramnad, he thought to himself. His mother would be happy- very much. And he made his head strong decision of marrying her at that moment, come what may. He knew he was pathetically in love with her. He- the King of Sivagangai- Muthu Vaduganathar, in disguise!

To be continued...