(Sorry,Tamil lines in hard-copy only!)
82) Where the Girl Belongs
The daughter of the family is going to be given in marriage. Two families are being united by mutual consent. It is a day of joy. Wedding ceremonies are going ahead amidst the noise and bustle of vedic recitations and drum beats. The time has arrived when the bride leaves her parents and goes to a new home. The girl breaks into tears and so do their parents , perhaps her brothers and sisters too. She leaves her parental home to become the daughter of another family, there to spend the rest of her life, loving her husband and his family and raise her own children. She becomes the darling of a new home, a home maker of her own. Indian tradition calls her “Lakshmi”. Her presence brings new cheer and charm to her husband’s family.
Says the poet in the following verse to a mother who feels she was losing her daughter, dear to her heart all these years through her childhood and youth, to a stranger, to a new family, that she has to come to terms with it. She belongs somewhere else.
The sandal wood that grows on the mountainside beautifies and cools the person who smears it on his body. Of what use is the sandal wood for the mountain itself? The mountain doesn’t derive any benefit from it. So is your daughter, she is going to where she belong and bring happiness and joy to her new home.
Beautiful white pearls are born in the water. They beautify the person who wears them. Of what use are the pearls for the water itself? Similarly your daughter born in your home will beautify another home.
Melodious music born of seven notes played on a veena is enjoyed by the person who plays on the instrument. But the veena itself cannot enjoy the music that comes out of it. So is your daughter.
83) From Madras to Bangalore by Train
A crowded train offers some fascinating diversions if only one is inclined to watch and observe: anxious passengers hurrying through eagerly looking for vacant seats, beggars of various description squeezing through the standees along the aisles and the endless number of vendors converting the compartment into a mobile market where the shops move and the buyers are seated - tea, coffee, fruits, vegetables, vadas, samosas, cooled soft drinks, toys, stickers, plastic mouth-organs, yo-yoes and what not? All on the move for the convenience (or annoyance) of the passengers.
The most astonishing thing of my last evening’s journey was the sight of the setting Sun. Such glow of brilliant orange I had never seen before, against the background of the blue hills on the horizon. I watched the sky for nearly half an hour till the Sun slowly sank little by little behind the ridge of the hills. Then it disappeared but its light persisted a few minutes more. The entire evening sky was dyed a superb scarlet metallic glow. Then the stars began to appear one by one. I watched Venus about 30o above the horizon. As the sky became darker still, Orion appeared behind the train. Seated where I was I could get a glimpse of this beautiful constellation by pressing my face against the bars of the window.
Bangalore: 11 January 1999 from a letter to Geoffrey
84) English: a British Legacy to India
Writing and publishing a book for general readership leaves the author with the burden of responsibility and onus of influencing the minds and moulding the thought process of a large number of readers. Shakespeare, G.B.Shaw, Karl Marx, Moses, the writers of the Gospels and Hitler have all influenced the thinking and action of a large number of people, for the better or the worse for the society. A book is a powerful tool. Adult readers of mature minds are capable of weighing and judging such authors and their books. But a text book in the hands of students in their formative years is accepted as a true guide and model. Even if the book is written badly, a student tends to devour the text, paragraphs and pages, learning all the miss-spellings, defective grammar, indifferent expressions and even miss-stated facts, not being aware that he has been exposed to erroneous situations. He is rendered incapable of