SONG AND STORY is a series of articles that stitches pieces of fiction writing with songs that have popularly been a part of dance repertoires. Born out of an exploration under the UNBOXED series, these articles aim at providing parallel, contra-indicative or juxtaposing contexts to popular poetry such as and not limited to Javalis, Padams and Devarnamas. With utmost respect for the poet/author and composer of the songs, the fiction writing that accompanies the songs is not meant in any way to disregard the original context. Should any reader choose to explore these pieces further, I urge you to access and understand the original contexts too.
As Meera tied the laces on her shoes, the fluorescent colour on the shoe sides triggered off that odd feeling in the pit of her stomach. She shook it off, quite literally shaking her head, picked up her keys and stepped out. Her walk to the Indian store was only 5 minutes but she preferred to use the chore as an excuse to walk around the neighbourhood for a better part of half hour. The sun was out today, but it was still early to call it summer. The nip in the air hit her face as she stepped out. Meera looked up at the blue sky and then down at the grey cobbled road, amused at the colours that life was showing her at the moment.
Tomorrow would be 9 months since she had moved to Belgium. Nine and a half months since she had tied the knot to Bala. Well, the movies lie a lot, she thought and smiled to herself, lifting her shoulders up as if it would magically lift her sinking heart. Again that odd feeling in the pit of her stomach! What could have set it off today? As Meera shook her head again, a man in a yellow T-shirt caught her eye. Wasn’t that Bala’s colleague from work? John, no Joe, no …… Johan. She couldn’t remember his name so she stopped herself from calling out to him but waved instead. He saw her, but didn’t wave back. He stared back, a bit perplexed, thought Meera. ‘Probably didn’t recognise me. Must be wondering why some random Indian woman is waving at me.’ Meera almost laughed at the assumptions she was building in her head. But that laugh in her head turned into a choke in her throat. John/Joe/Johan seemed to be out for lunch with his boyfriend… an Indian man in a Red Shirt… Bala.
Ramanathapuram had been Meera’s entire world. Daughter of Vardhini and Keshavan, she was named after her grandmother Visalakshi but Keshavan had eventually enrolled her in school as Meera. No one knew why. When she was a teenager, one elderly man met her at a wedding and remarked that she was as beautiful as ‘that’ Meera. Meera did prod her parents about it but the conversation was hastily dismissed. Ramanathapuram had its own unique gossip mills and Meera did find out who ‘that’ Meera was. ‘That’ Meera, the beautiful maiden of Sullivan Street, whose laugh was ‘too loud’ for a girl, who stood first in school, who was the only girl to study Mathematics at the District college, who was suddenly married off to Madhavan of Tanjavur, whose picture remained in her father’s wallet behind her own, whom Vardhini could not replace, whose name Vardhini had to live with for the rest of her life. Keshavan was not swayed by any comments, gossip or remarks. Meera was often torn between feeling sorry for the love he had lost and feeling angry for continuing to hold onto another woman in his heart while a wife kept his home. The day before Meera left the country, her mother cupped her face and wished her a ‘happpppy’ married life.
“Happppy married life indeed, thought Meera, as she stood there staring at Bala and Joe/John/Joh….
“Mirra”, Mr. Khan’s drawl broke her stare. Meera looked down at that fluorescent shoe side. It all came back. The trip to the vineyard in Northern France…. Bala’s insistence on a certain cheese… Meera’s refusal…John/Joe’s ‘coincidental’ visit…. his bracelet -fluorescent yellow!
Meera would have to walk on – for now.
To confront or concede,
to hold tight or let go,
to accept or deceive,
to be man in the world of love
or woman in the act they call love.
raagam: Huseni taaLam: roopakam
Yesterday, at dusk, on the banks of the river, who was that woman who approached you, signalling you to come over?
O Kanda (Muruga) who rides atop the majestic peacock, as you and she stood looking at each other, immersed in each other, I was there!
mannavar un ninaivukondu, annamkaNDorumAdamuNDu
There was a time when you would approach me
Speak words so sweet and intoxicate me in the time we spent together.
O Lord, I have spent a month pining for your presence, without touching a morsel of food,
Please return O Lord, my sorrows would end.