(Glossary below the story for those of you who are not familar with Tamil)
(Dedicated to that temple pond)
She jumped down step after step, her two ponytails bouncing along with her. She then proceeded to jump up on to them.
And in this repeated activity, she somehow seemed to be content.
It was a breezy morning. She had been woken up at 5. Her mother had planted a big kiss on her chubby cheeks, and whispered, “Ezhundukko ezhundukko da kutta! Inikku Seetha chithi-kku Kalyaanam. Koil-kku poganam”.
She had yawned, rubbed her eyes together and somehow managed to go through the motions of getting ready. She had fully awoken when her mom had puffed powder onto her face and tightly wound her curly mop of hair into two fat ponytails on either side of a central partition on her head.
With trays of clothes, sweets and nuts, loads of bags of various paraphernalia, they had boarded the cars to the town temple. She had sat on her mother’s lap near the window seat and looked out.
The sky had just been slowly stirring up from its sleepy gray robes. She had fallen asleep on the way. By the time she had got up, two minutes later, they were already at the temple and the first rays of dawn had lit the town of
Lines of marigold flowers had been entwined around the stone columns. The temple elephant, Kuttan, had been bathed and was surprisingly not smelling of dung. Sanjayan, the mahout was applying fresh sandalwood paste on to its forehead while Kuttan was shooing flies away, with his trunk.
The function had begun and her mother soon left her with one of the older kids to take care of the million works that crop up during weddings. The older kid had lost interest after a bit, and found another kid to play hopscotch near the
She had also tagged along but made to sit in the side and watch. She soon lost interest and began her own game in the temple steps.
She jumped down step after step and then jumped up again.
That is when he came. With his red shorts and black checked shirt. Hair neatly oiled and parted in the side, socks with a Mickey Mouse print in the middle, and a handkerchief tucked into his shirt front pocket.
He laughed at her.
“Enna thaniya velayaadindrukka?” he questioned
“Unakku enna vandhudhu?” she asked screwing up her face in offense.
“Susu!” he replied and laughed again at his own joke, cupping his hands in front of his mouth to control it.
She turned away angrily. Idiot-boy, she thought.
She walked down some more steps, putting distance between them and continued playing, lifting her red paavadai with its gold border slightly above her ankles so she wouldn’t trip.
“Un paer enna?” he questioned.
“Unakku…” she began, “Nee po! Naan unkitta pesamatten”.
“Yaen? Un paer enna? Sollu” he asked.
“Nee bad boy! Solla matten”.
“Seri sollathey! Enakku pudhu game theriyum.”
She did not reply immediately. He did not go away either. He sat on the steps. Propped his chin on his hand and looked at her jumping.
“Enna game....?” she asked slowly
A grin spread over his face.
“Vaa kaamikkaren,” he said and walked up to her. He took her hand in his and they jumped down the steps till they were near the water.
“Kaala ulla vei” he instructed.
“Ayyo vendaam! Jill-unnu irukkum” she said, her eyes looking like saucerpans, apprehensive.
“Onnum irukkaathu. Vei” he encouraged.
She slowly edged her toes to the water surface. Her little finger touched the water and impulsively she retreated.
“Sonnen la! Jill-unnu irukku!” she complained.
“Ayyo! Bayanthaanguli! Ippo paaru!” he said and proceeded to put his left foot inside the water.
Instantly fifty small fishes came and nibbled at his toes. He wriggled and laughed at their ticklish pecking.
“Dei! Kaal edu daaaa...! Meen kadikkaporathu” she squealed frightened.
“Idhu saami oda meen. Onnum pannathu. Try pannen” he said
She held on to his hand tightly and looked at him cautiously. He grinned encouragingly. She smiled and put her left foot slowly into the water.
“Ezhundukko ezhundukko da kutta! Inikku Seetha chithi-kku Kalyaanam. Koil-kku poganam”- Wake up wake up, dear one! We need to go to the temple for Seetha aunty’s wedding.
“Enna thaniya velayaadindrukka?” – Why are you playing by yourself?
“Unakku enna vandhudhu?” – Translation:What is your problem? Transliteration: What comes for you?
“Susu!” - Pee
Paavadai- traditional skirt
“Un paer enna?”- What is your name?
“Nee po! Naan unkitta pesamatten”- Go away! I won’t talk to you.
“Yaen? Un paer enna? Sollu” – Why? What is your name? Tell me!
“Nee bad boy! Solla matten”- You are a bad boy! I won’t tell you.
“Seri sollathey! Enakku pudhu game theriyum.”- Fine, don’t tell me. I know a new game.
“Enna game” – What game?
“Vaa kaamikkaren” – Come, I’ll show you.
“Kaala ulla vei” – Put your foot into the water.
“Ayyo vendaam! Jill-unnu irukkum” – Oh no! It will be cold!
“Onnum irukkaathu. Vei” – No. It won’t be. Just put your foot in.
“Sonnen la! Jill-unnu irukku!” – I told you , it will be cold…!
“Ayyo! Bayanthaanguli! Ippo paaru!” – Oh god! Scared cat! Look at me now.
“Dei! Kaal eduda! Meen kadikkaporathu” – Hey! Take out your feet. The fish will bite you
“Idhu saami oda meen. Onnum pannathu. Try pannen” – There are God’s fishes. They won’t bite. Why don’t you try?