Sunday 15 April 2012

The Queen Of Hearts- Part 7

Victory does some strange things to a man. Success climbs to one's head, brings down empires and ultimately leads to destruction. What made Mangamma send her son to Ramanathapuram, nobody knows. May be she was happy at the outcome of Rengakrishna's meeting with Zulfikhar Khan, may be she wanted to show her might to the Marava King who remained a thorn in her eye. Summoning Rengakrishna, Mangamma asked him to fight Kizhavan Sethupathy, the Marava ruler who had been planting hatred among the people of Madurai based on religion. Sethupathi, a devout Hindu, marginalised the newly converted Christians .They were denied jobs in the Government, shunned from the community wells and tanks, segregated from the villages and hamlets. 

Sethupathi was intolerant of Christian Missionaries who were successful in converting a sizeable chunk of the populace to Christianity. Sethupathi ordered the beheading of Kumarappa Chettiar who was a Chieftain in his own Court once he discovered he had embraced Christianity. Sethupathi's sister was married off as second wife to Kumarappa Chettiar. Once he was baptised by John De Britto, Kumarappa sent his second wife back, as he was a devout Catholic who wanted to follow monogamy. Seeing his sister back at home angered Sethupathi so much that he ordered the beheading of his own brother-in-law. And as to the man who converted an entire village to Christianity, including Kumarappa, he was named a traitor and death sentence passed. John De Britto was captured, tortured and killed at the behest of Sethupathi. The sands of Oriyur where Saint John De Britto's blood was shed is a deep red, even today. A relic in almost every Catholic's home in our area...
The murder of Kumarappa Chettiyar and St. John De Britto kindled the fire in Rengakrishna and Mangamma. Someone should teach Sethupathi a lesson. Who would be a better choice than Rengakrishna who sent back the Mughal army empty handed? That was when he decided to embark on a dangerous journey into Marava heartland. When he was welcomed at the gates of Ramanathapuram Fort, Rengakrishna was baffled. He had come waging a war and the warm welcome Sethupathi gave him confused the young King. And when Sethupathi announced brightly in his Durbar that the ' young Naik King had come on a pilgrimage to Rameswaram via Ramanathapuram', Rengakrishna was almost writhing in his seat. Sethupathi acted as though Rengakrishna was a small kid, pampered him with food and showered him with gifts. By that time, Rengakrishna was confused if he should raise his sword against the Maravas or retreat back. 

The ploy of Sethupathi worked well, when Mangamma sent a message to Rengakrishna that if he couldn't face the Marava King, he return to Tiruchirapuram, all Rengakrishna could do was beat a hasty retreat to Naik land. No sword was drawn, not a drop of blood was lost, yet Sethupathi won his battle in the Court rooms. Mangamma consoled Rengakrishna saying- " You had to witness the political diplomacy of Sethupathi, Renga. The old lion excels in planning and executing heists. Hope my grandson would win one day, against him". 

Few years later...

It was Chithirai Festival in Madurai. Mangamma was filled with joy, Chinnamuthamma was now pregnant. A grandson is what Mangamma had been praying for and when she learnt Chinnamuthu was pregnant, she was elated. So was Rengakrishna. The fruit of their love in her womb, Chinnamuthu radiated with happiness. When Kallazhagar entered the river that year, as a bad omen, the idol slipped and fell into the flowing Vaigai. Too stunned by what happened, the Royal family returned to the Palace. Two days later, Rengakrishna contracted a fever and within hours, his body and face became stricken with small pox. A pregnant Chinnamuthamma was deplored from nearing Rengakrishna for fear of contracting the disease, whereas Mangamma spent every moment awake with him. Rengakrishna's condition worsened further and he slipped in and out of consciousness, battling death.

Those were the days when there was no treatment for small pox, except the remedy of neem leaves and turmeric applied on the wounds. Lying on a nimble banana leaf, struggling to live, wanting to see his unborn infant, Rengakrishna battled death, in vain. A week later, Madurai lost its King. Mangamma was devastated. Chinnamuthamma, almost dead. Disasters came in a regular pattern in Mangamma's life. Just when she thought she had made a good King in her son, death snatched him away from her. Narasappaiah paled as death himself, ordered the last rites. Every look at her son's lifeless body, brought Mangamma memories of her son- the beloved son for whom she had lived the life of an unwanted, unloved wife. When the body was taken to the graveyard for cremation in a long procession, Chinnamuthamma followed in staggering steps. 

When the funeral pyre was lit, Chinnamuthamma tried to jump into it, pushing the guards aside. Mangamma had not given enough thought on these lines, as she had defied Sati herself. Racing to hold her daughter-in-law, she roared orders for her palanquins to be ready. A struggling Chinnamuthamma was sedated, brought back to the Palace and laid on her bed. Shedding silent tears, Mangamma sat beside, gently smoothing the hairs of the young lady. Rengakrishna had died at 22 years and Chinnamuthamma was a widow at 17. Such a cruel twist of fate, she thought. When Chinnamuthamma woke up, she had to face straight into the anxious face of Mangamma. 

"What you did is something i can never forgive, Chinnamuthu. You tried to kill not your own self but the innocent unborn in your womb. That little Rengakrishna who would remind us of his father. Or may be a little Mangamma who would one day rule Madurai with an iron hand. Promise me Chinnamuthu, promise me that you won't harm the little one", she pleaded with a red eyed Chinnamuthamma. Astounded by the Queen who herself was pleading with her, Chinnamuthu held her hand for a moment and plunged slowly into a slumber. Mangamma made sure that the widowed Princess was never left unattended. She ordered Court jesters and courtesans perform before her, tried to keep her happy and never showed once her real feelings to her- her heart was indeed bleeding. She had pinned so much hopes on her little son Rengakrishna and God had snatched him away from her so early.

It was a cold night and Mangamma could not sleep. Chinnamuthamma had gone into labor that evening and Mangamma had just now returned from her chamber, finding not much progress in the child birth. Leaving the Royal doctors and nursing aides by her side, she slid slowly into the night and reached her chamber. The child would definitely take its own sweet time, probably arrive the next morning. She could not remember when she slept but woke with a start when she sensed fumes. Smoke rose from the foot of her bed, the lamp by the bedside had tumbled on the bed and  the curtains and sheets billowed in smoke. She raised an alarm and her aides pounced inside the room in no time and the fire was doused. 

Mangamma was still perplexed and worried when Alarmelamma rushed in with the news- a baby boy was born to Chinnamuthamma. The fire in her room, was it a bad omen, she tried to reason out. Yet, her longing to hold her grandson pulled her like a magnet  to Chinnamuthamma's chamber. One look at the sleeping angel, Mangamma was moved. She felt awash with joy, Rengakrishna was reborn! The fire that broke in her room would soon engulf her very being, threatening her very existence...


  1. Lovely! It will be interesting to see how the lil one would mean the end for Mangamma! CN, hats off to you for a brilliant story writing series :)

    1. Thank you so much for the comment, Arti:) Honoured!

  2. You have an amazing style of story-telling CN

    If this series were a book, it would be hard to keep down the book without finishing all the parts :P

    Waiting for the next part


    1. Visha...thank you so much.Hope this would be published someday!

  3. These series is really amazing and wonderful collection of pics!!!

  4. so sad...all her hopes dashed!

    glad she didn't do the sati.

    so her grandson would be her undoing....ok, waiting to read more.

    the killing of the missionary happened truly?

  5. And finally I completed reading all these posts! But I need to wait for the next one! Your writing is amazing c9. You should publish this!

    1. 1. Instead givin TITLE as Part I , II - why nt give some subtitle based on the high light of Every chapter!(eg. like ponniyin selva)
      2.". Sethupathi, a devout Hindu, marginalised the newly converted Christians" - i dont accept/. history is bent for ppl(on whom the stories are centered- Even "ADITHA KARIKALA of ponniyin selva is killed by his CHITTAPPA bt the novel pus blame on our sweet heart nandini ).
      3.IF kumarappa want to follow Catholic way_ why his wife do mov out(nt clear). add to how s sethu sis relatd to kumarappa?(nt clear)
      4.REM how buddha statues are demolished in AFGANISTHAN, and hindu temples wer demolished in SriLanka (v recently), and WEST ( hoope France)- banned OPENING OF NEW MOSQUE ( hpe we discussed),Every one did the same then and now.. why blame HINDU kings alone.
      5.Kng SETHU adapted same strategy of His mom (to Mughals)
      6.ALagar idol lost in river - signalling bad OMEN for NAIK king ( interestng)
      7.Aft the new born _ why did the curtain get in to fire?-( seekiram suspense ai Mudingappa)??!!


Hey, just let me know your feedback:)