August 30, 2011

Raja's Tales- 1

Long long ago, very long ago, when Raja was a little boy, he used to live in Ernakulam. He also lived in Trivandrum. Now he is so old, he does not remember where exactly this incident took place.
Raja and his brother, along with their cousins, used to frequent, what we shall assume from now on as, the Ernakulam Palace, every Friday. This is a story that happened on one fateful Friday, as he remembers it.
The King of Ernakulam lived in the Ernakulam palace. The palace was shaped like a square, open on one end with a huge mittam*  in the middle. The King used to organize huge feasts every Friday in honour of the lord. Every Friday, he would walk out of his inner chambers, stand for a minute and survey the crowd that gathered in the courtyard. He would then climb on to his special pedestal to eat lunch alongside his subjects.

The Friday Feast used to be a grand affair. Many many cooks from all over the land used to prepare the rich meal with the finest of ingredients. Work started in the wee hours of the morning and would only just about get done on time. 

That Friday was like every other Friday, except that, somehow for some strange reason, the cook had forgot the Pachchadi on the menu. 
The crowds had gathered, and the King was just about to come, when the head cook realized his folly. But nothing could be done and so he instructed everyone to keep mum about it. He hoped people would not miss the Pachchadi, relishing all the other extraordinary items on the menu. 
The King walked out of his inner chambers, looked left, looked right and twirled his mustache, satisfied at what he saw. 
As the cooks brought out urlis of food, the clouds suddenly huddled together. The world grew dark and an unearthly voice resonated, "Pachchadi vechchilaingyil, Vechchadi edukkilya!"**
The head cook trembled. All his assistants looked perplexed.

The King was shocked and stood still to his ground. He pleaded to the voice, "O Divine Lord! Pardon us! The Pachchadi shall be made at once". He looked at the head cook and ordered him with a look to proceed.

The cooks at once scampered to make the pachchadi. The world stood still. The clouds stayed huddled. There was something unearthly that everyone felt in the air. No one spoke a word. Ten minutes seemed like ten years. and a pachchadi fit for the gods was made.

The cooks wheeled in the urli and waited. A gust of wind blew over the mittam, sending shivers down everyone's spine. And just as suddenly as it had huddled, the clouds parted and a beam of sunlight streamed. The King gingerly took a step forward. Nothing happened. 

The crowd broke into a thunderous applause!

mittam* courtyard
"Pachchadi vechchilaingyil, Vechchadi edukkilya!"** If you do not offer the Pachchadi, you cannot take a step forward

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Maira Gall