A Wonderful Accident

by Isai

A quick translation of Poet Isai’s article in Akazh web magazine.

Love for gambling grows when you lose, like

Love for life grows when you suffer.

- Thirukkural, Gambling, 940

Whenever I think about this Kural, my heart adds more weight to the thought. It forgets the limitations of the stanza and multiplies the words,

Love for gambling grows when you lose and lose, like

Love for life grows when you suffer and suffer.

Words multiply into waves and eyes are filled with tears.

This is the last Kural in the chapter about Gambling. Valluvar aimed to warn us about gambling. But the words of the Kural are kind of enchanted and cannot warn us as strictly as he would have wanted. The first enchantment is, that the attraction of gambling is not portrayed as a breach of discipline, but as nature. How can we blame our nature? The second enchantment is, though Valluvar wanted to warn us about gambling, he ends up telling us something deeper in the second line. For me, this Kural is in the second line. While writing, we want to say something, and end up saying something deeper, sometimes even ignoring what we wanted to say, it happens. The same accident of writing could have happened to Valluvar. What a wonderful accident though!

Gambling calls us into it like nothing else. And gamblers can never ignore the call. The epic of Mahabaratha happens upon gambling. We are the children who grew up reading about the gamblers who betted with their wives. The darkness and attractive light of gambling naturally serve as a metaphor for life. In Sureshkumar Indrajith’s ‘A gamble called life’, a man plays cards alone. He plays for his opposite player also. The gamble that is played by the divided self. There is no human on the face of the earth, who have never played this game.

For Valluvar, the first line is important, and the second is an allegory. In my reading, it is vice versa. “You love life when you suffer” drags me far. Parimelazhagar who wrote a commentary to this kural, writes, “Like the life that runs behind the body despite the sufferings caused by bodily desires, unable to discard it.” Through his commentary, he adds ‘body’ into the conversation. Commentators from later periods followed Azhagar and weaved in the word body. They limit the meaning of this kural to the suffering caused to the body. In Manakkudavar’s commentary, there is no ‘body’. He says, ‘life falls in love with pleasure whenever it suffers.’ This commentary expands the limits of meaning for this Kural, and it is close to my heart. That is, ‘the desire towards life that never extinguishes in the face of immense suffering’ need not be limited to merely ‘body’. The desire of life includes the desires of body, but is not limited to that. This Kural is a beautiful bird that flies towards life in the early morning. And I want to let it fly.

Everyone knows the temporary nature of life, and how it slowly moves towards death. But we never forget to extravagantly celebrate Happy Birthdays every year. Because black forest is permanent for that moment.

He who doesn’t stand before the train thinking ‘everything is over’, and catches the train to escape to somewhere else continues to gamble with life. He struggles when held down by suffering. He strongly believes in the miracle that will happen tomorrow. He laughs at the failures that laugh at him. However foolish it is, life continues as long as there is a passion left.

In M.Gopalakrishnan’s latest novel ‘Pilgrimage’ a woman has ‘the body of fish’. She wishes to swim in every river that runs across India. What will she gain from that? Gold? Material gain? Fame? It is not a run towards Limca Book of Records. It is pleasure in filling oneself.

We know where there are war and bunkers, death is not far away. A. Muthulingam’s ‘Ellaam Vellum’ short story speaks of how life is closer to death too.

“The children who were injured in the bunkers and crying in pain watched Vijay’s new movie Sivakasi on the TV. When Durga saw them lost in the movie forgetting pain and injuries, her heart was moved. Who gave birth to them… They have forgotten their mothers themselves. They don’t know when the next meal will be. They don’t know where it will come from. They don’t know where the bombs will fall next and who will survive that. Kannika, whose hands have thinned and lungs are struggling to breathe, tells her, Akka move away without blocking the TV.”

Mozhiyarasi, a LTTE woman soldier in the story loves decorating herself. ‘She doesn’t forget to wet her fingers by sucking them and then adjust her eyebrows with wet fingers, even while she is holding a gun ready to shoot.’ Even after losing a leg and walking with a wooden leg, she bathes forever applying seeyakkai and hibiscus flowers to her head.

“Durga asked one day.

‘Mozhi, decorations are high. Are the enemies going to fall from your gun or your winks?’

‘Poor things. They won’t have a chance to look at my beauty. My PK gun will kill them while they are a mile away.’

‘Whom do you waste so many red hibiscus flowers for, then?’

‘For myself. They bloom for my head!’”

Aathmanaam wrote a poem titled ‘Tomorrow is ours’.

The poem starts with

“I say this with teary eyes
the twentieth century is dead”

And ends with

“Even in this sorrow
I believe
Tomorrow is ours.”

He wanted to believe something will grow out of death.

A poem… written by me… We can see a ‘Rava roast’ calling us to life in this poem.

Rava Roast
(by Isai)

Her only child
is in ICU
Severe injuries in the head
It has been two months now
The daughter started opening her eyes
once a day
Even then
She closes them after staring at the ceiling
The mother is walking dead now
She fasted for two days
She bought four idlies
And ate two and a half.
One day
To the server who came with four idlies,
She asked, “Is there Rava Roast?”
She ate it
She ate it fully
She licked all her fingers
She realised while washing her hands
That she has suddenly eaten a Rava Roast like that
She shouted loud enough for the restaurant to pause.

Life that you fall in love with when you lose… There is a Rava roast whenever you suffer.




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