As per Arthi's request...
Every stage of our lives brings a different shade, a different experience worth treasuring. At 13, our fascination with the cricket bat gives a satisfaction that nothing else can. A girl in your class giggles and your heart breaks - it would’ve been the 16th or 17th year since your birth. Books, music, instruments, puzzles – these happen at various stages and each gives a distinct hue to our life’s rainbow. Enrique, Sheldon, Sachin, or Vivekananda posters embellish one’s mind and heart at different times as one’s tastes and thought processes change and evolve. I’ve also not been spared from this very syndrome that defines various milestones. When nostalgia overpowers me at times, I buy a ticket in time machine to travel some years back… my first game of Gilli… all those Indi-pop days… Paree hoon main, Piya Basanthi… cousins priding over ‘Most Tintin and Archies completed’ tag… Bhagavad Gita recitation – whose pronunciation is best … spending oodles of time and energy in making ‘my’ girl look at me :)… GRE wordlists… romancing with Anna and Britney magazine covers… spending hours with Star Movies to decipher the Uncle Sam accent… inspirations from Vivekananda and Hedgewar… Wow that has been quite a journey! And it has been just 23 years since I had set foot on the planet…
I’ve been thinking of bringing one such interesting influence, a thing that has influenced my thoughts to a great extent. Recently, I had been to a carnatic concert. As I came out of the hall, I was, as always, drawn towards cds on display by a music company ‘Charsur’. A cd titled ‘Aatma-Soul’ with colours from our national flag in its skin caught me - a collection by Bombay Jayashree. I like the depth in her voice. Superb. But I bought it for another reason altogether. It was a compilation of Bharathiyar songs.
Subramanya Bharathi made his advent into my life through the ‘Tamilnadu textbook society’ Tamil books provided by our schools for middle school curriculum. ‘Achamillai achamillai..’, ‘Panchaali Sabadham’ and a lesson exclusively on this man provided me with first glimpses. In college, one of my dearest friends, Syed, a die-hard fan of this great poet carried a ‘Bharathiyar kavidhaigal’ book apart from his lunch box as the two permanent constituents in his college bag. He used to read out few lines now and then even as we enthusiastic last benchers enjoyed those flashes of brilliance. This was a time when my inclination towards the works of Bharathiyar got renewed.
I’m not good at doing ‘Nayam parattal’ and stuff nor am I adept at understanding deeper meanings in Tamil kavidhai. But I couldn’t resist penning this piece, more so with me getting overpowered by his potent verses for quite sometime now. So, pardon me if I don’t strike sync with the poet’s emotions perfectly.
I sat awe struck as Bombay Jayashree recited verses from his renowned poems. So many varied subjects... Patriotism, love, spiritualism, progressive thoughts, nature, philosophy… so diversified was his pen in creating magic. ‘Kaani nilam vendum…’ – a song that catches me like anything. He explains his perfect setting – ‘oru kaeni aruginil thennaimaram keetrum ilaneerum…’, ‘katthum kuyilosai satre vandhu kaadhil pada venum’- golden! If anyone can describe it better, it’ll be Bharathi himself. What about ‘Kaatru veliyidai kannamma’? Planning for a romantic vacation with your girl friend – a boat house in Alappuzha with one of his ‘Kannamma’ songs playing in the background – the perfect setting. ‘Amuthootrinai otha idhazhgal’, ‘nilavoori thathumbum vizhigal’ – examples for the powerful imagery he uses. And then the evergreen ‘Suttum vizhichudar dhaan’… ‘natta nadu nisiyil theriyum nakshatirangaladi’, ‘neela kadal alaye unadhu nenjin alaigaladi’ – metaphors that will make Wordsworth proud.
‘Theekkul viralai vaithaal nandalaala ninnai theendum inbam thonrudhadaa’ – will the Lord not come down on hearing this. ‘Maadhar theengural paatil iruppal’, ‘geetham paadum kuyilin kuralai kiliyin naavai iruppidam kondaal’ explains Bharathi in his ‘Vellai thamarai’, a tribute to Goddess Saraswathi - a glowing example on how much he stressed education and enlightenment through learning. If you are the sort who feels that you’ve missed dwapara yuga and Krishna here is your tonic - ‘Theeradha vilayaattu pillai’. Know Bharathi know ‘Manadhil urudhi vendum’. He expounds his idea on the ideal world. ‘dhanamum inbamum vendum’, ‘pen vidudhalai vendum’, ‘unmai ninrida vendum’ – simple yet strong sentiments. Who can write like this? He sure is a Mahakavi!
‘Achamillai’ brings goose bumps – an eternal inspirer. ‘Ichai konda porul ellaam izhanduvitta podhilum acham illa acham illai acham enbadhillaye!’ – how much more confident can one get!
‘Engal Bharatha desam endru thol kottuvom’ – man does that not go bang into your heart. Makes me cry. How would it have been had we seen and heard this man live! ‘Paarukkulle nalla naadu’ and scores of such songs – had I lived during his time, I would’ve brandished our national flag the next moment to drive those vultures out!
One striking feature of his poetry is the way it gels with any genre of music. Bharathi had loads of what people call ‘music sense’. Be it Madurai Mani’s traditional carnatic renditions or Balachander’s film songs or contemporary Fusion – he fits into everything without getting distorted even a wee bit. All expressions or ‘ras’ are present – happiness, ferocity, divinity... You name it.
Little did the elephant that trampled him know about the endurance that this poet’s legacy will have for generations to come! And he was not yet forty then…