Yet another series of long nights this week, and I had, for some reason, decided that I will listen only to Tamil kritis. I think it all started with a desire to listen to the song “enna thavam seidhanai, yashOdA“. One led to another, and I chanced to listen to Madurai Mani Iyer’s rendition of Subramanya Bharatiyaar’s “veLLai thaamarai poovil iruppaaL” after a long time. And it set off a train of thoughts, and I have been feeling nostalgic ever since. To say nothing of the many dozen times I have listened to the song in the past two nights.
First the lines.
வெள்ளைத் தாமரைப் பூவில் இருப்பாள்!
வீணை செய்யும் ஒலியில் இருப்பாள்;
கொள்ளை இன்பம் குலவு கவிதை
கூறும் பாவலர் உள்ளத்திருப்பாள்!
உள்ளதாம் பொருள் தேடியுணர்ந்தேன்!
ஓதும் வேதத்தின் உள்நின்று ஒளிர்வாள்;
கள்ள மற்ற முனிவர்கள் கூறும்
மாதர் தீங்குரல் பாட்டில் இருப்பாள்;
மக்கள் பேசும் மழலையில் உள்ளாள்;
கீதம் பாடும் குயிலின் குரலைக்
கிளியின் நாவை இருப்பிடம் கொண்டாள்;
கோதகன்ற தொழிலுடைடைத் தாகிக்
குலவு சித்திரம் கோபுரம் கோயில்
ஈதனைத்தின் எழிலுடை யுற்றாள்
இன்பமே வடிவாகிடப் பெற்றாள்.
The song is etched in my memory because it was the prayer song back in school. But that used to be lifeless – of course, if you assemble 2000 teenagers in the open sun and ask them to blurt out a few lines, it won’t produce the same effect as Mani Iyer rendering it in glorious Bhimplas, flanked by Chowdiah (methinks).
But I swore to myself that I have listened to Vellai Thaamarai in Bhimplas, and it wasn’t by Mani Iyer. In fact, I could attest that the memory was even before I started listening to Carnatic music seriously. And then it all came to mind. And my eyes welled up with tears.
My grandmother took a keen interest in Carnatic music. (My grandfather too, and I know for a fact that my veneration for Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar stems from him.) Apart from being a avid listener, she was a good singer too. When I was 5, we bought a tape recorder, and my hobby was to use the record function a little too much. So much so that I have upset my father so many times for having overwritten tapes of his favorite songs.
The one enduring memory is that of my recording my grandmother singing Vellai Thaamarai. I cannot be held guilty for overstatement when I say that, as a kid, I found it every bit as delectable as I find Mani Iyer’s version today. It is quite possible she had listened to his records many, many times, and had, as result, internalized it. It was so good that when I transferred to this school, my first reaction to the prayer song was “No, this is not how it must be sung.”
That red tape recorder is no more. The Meltrack audio cassette which contained my grandmother’s voice was probably cast aside when our house was repainted or remodeled, and is now lost forever. My grandmother passed away a year ago this very week. As Marcel Pagnol says in Le Château de ma Mère (which incidentally is the greatest movie ever), “Telle est la vie des hommes. Quelques joies, très vite effacées par d’inoubliables chagrins.” (Such is the life of man. Some joys, quickly erased by unforgettable sorrows.)
No related posts.