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Imayam's Arumugam

Arumugam explores emotions that weave stories of a mother-son relationship into a single fabric of love.

india Updated: May 05, 2006 11:58 IST

Arumugam
Author: Imaya
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Katha
Pages: 240
Price: Rs 250
ISBN: 81-8764927-5

A timeless tale of a child denied his childhood, Arumugam explores the relationship between a mother and son, the difficult emotions that weave their stories into a single fabric of love. Thrown from a secure, loving home into the cruel world of the Chekkumedu prostitutes, Arumugam learns that his perceptions of life are as unreal as wisps of smoke and understands in the end that the only truth is the voice of a loving heart.

Expertly translated by D Krishna Ayyar, Katha presents one of the finest contemporary writers in Tamil.

 
 Cover of Imayam's Arumugam

Here is an excerpt:

Raman met Kizhavar a month later, when he visited Pootthurai to condole a bereavement. It was at this time that he caught sight of Dhanabhagyam.

Definitely an eyeful, he noted with sincere appreciation. He spent a few moments in thought, and then ventured with some hesitation to make enquiries about Dhanabhagyam and Kizhavar's plans for her. Informing Kizhavar that he was an orphan and wanted a girl to look after him, he probed obliquely if Dhanabhagyam would be given to him in marriage.

Kizhavar had been looking at Raman ever since the young man began to speak about Dhanabhagyam, evaluating him keenly. The old man did not break his silence for a long time. Eventually, it seemed that he had come to a decision, and spoke to Raman about Dhanabhagyam.

Raman's responses to Kizhavar's queries were uniformly steadfast. "Whatever you wish." "You're the elder, after all." "I never go against my word." "You'll have to be my father, and look after my welfare." "I'd even jump into a well, if that was what you wanted." "There's no need to ask me anything." Kizhavar studied Raman's face for quite some time.

The next week saw Raman visit Pootthurai and Kizhavar again. And the next.

Kizhavar turned a deaf ear to Dhanabhagyam's protests, and made sure that the wedding ceremony was performed on a Friday, in the Mailam Murugan temple. He had the couple stay in Pootthurai for a week, and saw them off on their way to Krishnapuram.

"Chandala - traitor!" Dhanabhagyam raged at her father. She swore that she would leave her husband and return home; she would hang herself. None of these threats dented Kizhavar's determination; he maintained a stoic silence, as if he had not heard her at all. Later, he accompanied the couple to the tank-bund, to see them off. Dhanabhagyam, who could not stand the sight of him, screamed a "Paavi!" to his face, and stalked off with that last expletive. Raman brought up the rear, with Kizhavar.

"Thambi," began the old man.

"Yes?" asked Raman.

"This one kicks. You'd do well to be careful."

"I will."

"But you mustn't forget that this one yields milk. I've nurtured her like a plant for fifteen years. She's an innocent young girl - a pottapillay. She mustn't be unhappy. She never knew her mother, never knew what it was to suckle at her mother's breasts. She might be wilful now, but once she's tasted the pleasure of the loins, everything will turn out well. Krishnapurathare, never raise a hand against her, no matter what."

"You may trust me," promised the man from Krishnapuram.

"Careful, now. An elder's blessings upon you."

"I'll be off, then."

"Do."