Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ponnar and Shankar Part IX: The Capture of a Parrot

  • One day, soon after the twin heroes from Ponnivala return from their war of independence from the great Chola of Uraiyur, their sister calls them to speak with her. She is lonely. They are always going out on big adventures while she has nothing to entertain herself with. She sits alone in the palace all day. Tangal then tells her brothers that she wants two parrots to keep her company. She wants them to catch two lovely birds for her.

  • But Tangal does not have in mind just ordinary birds. She wants two parrots that have descended to earth from the heavens, bird of very special beauty and plumage. Tangal has dreamt of these birds and she now describes them to her brothers. She knows where these two birds live. They nest in a certain great tree just near the hunters big palace.

  • The twin heroes are ready. This adventure sounds like fun! And also, it is notable that their decision to try to catch these parrots follows close on the heels of their defeat of the Chola king. Great monarchs like him controls vast forest areas. They were considered to be a great king’s “private” game preserve. Now that the great Chola ruler is no more, it is likely that these minor Ponnivala kings feel they possess a new freedom to hunt in the forests that surround them.

  • But first the brothers need a proper hunting net. It is not easy to catch wild birds. So they order their loyal group of local artisans to make them the proper hunting tool.

  • The artisans are taken to the palace store room where a stash of irons rod are kept. But soon the artisans complain that this iron is not good enough. They need some superior iron to make a really fine and strong net.

  • Shambuga hears about this problem and volunteers to find some better iron. He knows that the forest hunters, known as Vettuvas, have a pile of very fine iron that they keep near their forest temple that is dedicated to the fearsome goddess Kali. Shambuga volunteers to go and get some of this material for the artisans to use.

  • After a day or two Shambuga returns with an impressive bundle of iron rods that are of the highest quality.

  • The artisans make a net using this fine iron. They are well satisfied with this better material and the fine hunting tool is soon ready for use.

  • Before the two brothers leave on their hunting expedition they ask their sister to bless their swords. This will bring them good luck and enhance their hunting skills. Tangal is a little worried about her brothers entering a forest that does not belong to them. She knows that a group of fearsome Vettuvas live there. However she does want those parrots and she wishes her brothers well. She ends up blessing their swords!

  • The two brothers prepare for the hunt by dressing in the finest silks. They are ready for whatever challenges might lie deep in that dark forest where they have never been before!

  • The hunting party now takes off. Shambuga accompanies his two masters, of course, and so do a number of village men who provide field labour for Ponnivala’s first family. The horses have to walk more slowly this time, so that these ordinary peasant men can keep up!

  • Soon the hunting party reaches the edge of the thick forest. They stop to rest on a high ridge. From there they can see the great parrot tree in the distance. That will be their destination.

  • From here on the brush begins to thicken. The men and the horses cannot see where their footsteps fall. The light dims and the path begins to feel spooky.

  • Yes, there are eyes that seem to watch these travelers from the bushes. After all, this is a small group of inexperienced hunters. This is their first time they have traveled through such a thick forest.

  • Suddenly Shankar hears a growl. His horse rears. What was that?

  • The party have barely stopped and caught their breath when a huge group of tigers appears. Shanbuga and Shankar jump off their horses and begin to swing their swords. Tiger after tiger falls victim to their sharp weapons so skillfully swung. Finally, all of the tigers lie dead and the little party feels safe to continue onward.

  • But very soon after this there is another challenge. This time it is a sea of cobras, hissing and trying to strike at the little party of hunters from all directions. Again Shankar and Shambuga get of their horses and wade into the fray. Cobras are slashed and cut up by the hundreds. Finally these beasts, too, are fully defeated and the hunting party feels safe to move on.

  • Finally the great banyan tree is reached. This is the parrots’ home. This is where the real hunt is to begin.

  • Shankar orders Shambuga to climb into the tree. He is to get as high as he can. Then the party on the ground will throw him the net. And at all costs, he must move slowly and silently. He must not to scare the birds who are living there!

  • Shambuga begins his climb full of energy. This is a fine challenge for him and he believes he is up to the task. This amazing man is known to be a master of tricks and he is also very strong. He feels more at home in the forest than any other person in the expedition party! Shambuga manages to get quite a ways up this huge banyan tree before he is thrown the special net by the other members of his hunting party, who remain below.  

  • Now Shambuga spots the two parrots. They are truly beautiful. But they are also wary. The strange goings-on around the base of their tree has not escaped their notice! Shambuga throws the net. One of the two birds, the female, is caught by it. But her companion, the male parrot, flies free.  

  • As soon as Shambuga descends from the tree the beautiful female bird is put in a cage that has been especially made by the artisans ahead of time, expressly for this purpose. Ponnar, Shankar, and the entire hunting party admire their beautiful catch. Never mind that the male parrot got away. Everyone feels happy at their success.

  • The caged parrot is brought back to the Ponnivala palace and handed over to Tangal. She is thrilled and begins trying to talk to it right away. Finally she will have a lovely companion to play with in her lonely home!

[<==Back to Part 8]

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