Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Princess Tangal Part II: The Exile

  • Tangal is born into privilege. She lives in a lovely palace. And she is an only child, at least that is what both her parents and others believe.

  • The little girl gets to go with her parents, especially on short trips, like when they go to bathe in the local river.

  • While her parents enjoy the cool river water, little Tangal has fun on shore. She loves to admire and to touch the many small plants and flowers that adorn the river bank.

  • But this peaceful life lasts only a short while. It is disrupted when the family’s jealous clansmen arrive. They point out to Tamarai that she has only one daughter. There are no sons growing up in the palace. The clansmen believe that the lovely lands of Ponnivala should thus be passed to them. They have male children, and they will be able to care for these lands in the future. In their eyes Kunnutaiya has lost his right to rule because he lacks a male heir.

  • The clansmen wait for an opportunity. One day when Kunnutaiya is out in the fields they enter palace forcefully. They beat Tamarai and force her to submit. By forcing Tamarai to the ground they humiliate her, and because of this abuse they humiliate the king too!

  • Poor Tangal watches this from her cradle. Her eyes tear up and she is frightened. She calls for her mother to lift her but Tamarai is helpless to do so.

  • When Kunnutaiya returns home they trap him as well. Then the clansmen force the couple from their own home. Tamarai objects to the disrespect they are showing her husband, but these men do not listen. They are aggressive and they act like mean bullies.

  • The clansmen tell the couple they must leave Ponnivala altogether. They tell the couple that are no longer welcome. Sadly, the couple soon realize that they have no choice. They will have to leave the lovely land they love so well! But first they must say goodbye to their family goddess.

  • Kunnutaiya and Tamarai stop at Celatta’s temple. They are not very happy. They feel that the goddess should have protected them better.

  • Still, the sad couple are respectful. They pray to Celatta and ask for her help during the difficult days that surely lie ahead.

  • Both Kunnutaiya and Tamarai remove the majority of their jewels and place them at the feet of the goddess. What good will these precious things be now? In exile it is better to be dressed simply, and not display to others the fact that they were once a king and queen!

  • As the sad couple leave Ponnivala they say goodbye to the lovely calves that gamble in their pasture. The scene makes them even more unhappy because it reminds them of their former palace life. There Tangal used to play in the same way, always watched carefully by her loving mother!

  • Next the king and queen pass by the horse paddock. There they say goodbye to the happy twin colts that were just born that year. The two have such fine blue-black coats. It is a magical color! And these are always gambling about together. What future will they face now?

  • The couple also pass by the river. They will miss that too! They will be going into the mountains, located far from this mighty waterway. In fact their kingdom, Ponnivala, was named after this river. The word Ponni, after all, means “golden.” And Ponnivalanadu, the full and formal name of their kingdom, means “the land of the golden river!” They will miss this jewel that waters their beloved landscape and is the source of its fertility!

  • Kunnutaiya and Tamarai head for the foothills of the mountains. The landscape is green, but there are more rocks now and thorns are beginning to prick the traveler’s feet.

  • After a time the couple stop on a rock to rest. Tamarai hands her precious daughter to Kunnutaiya to hold for a while. She is getting heavy to carry!

  • Tangal is also hungry. Tamarai has to humble herself to beg milk from the residents of the small hamlet they are passing through.   

  • Fortunately one family of merchants is kind enough to give this stranger some milk for her hungry child!

  • Once in the mountains, Kunnutaiya and Tamarai find the hunter’s grand palace. They stop there to ask for directions. The hunter king is kind. He invites them in for a meal. But Tamari feels they should not take food from these strangers who custom defines as their inferiors. That was a mistake! The hunter king becomes angry and asks them to leave. Still, he offers the wandering couple shelter in a horse shed on his lands. The couple are grateful for this kindness. A servant from the hunter’s palace shows them the way.

  • When the couple reach the horse shed they find it very small and primitive. It is nothing like the grand home they used to live in!

  • Once inside the door Kunnutaiya and Tamarai realize how humble their new home really is. There is just one simple cotton bedspread lying on a hard mud floor. That will be their bed! And a single earthen hearth will have to do for all their cooking. It is tucked modestly into one corner of the same little room.   

  • The couple are weary and they lie down to rest after their long journey. Somehow they will find some food in the morning. But Tamarai cannot sleep. She is worried. How can they live like this? After all, she and her fine husband were once a king and queen! Tamarai thinks of Lord Vishnu. Somehow, somehow they will manage!

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