Sunday, November 02, 2008

Kallarai Thiruvizha

All souls day is called Kallarai Thiruvizha (literally the cemetry festival) in Tamil. I learnt this today by chance at a teashop near the fishing harbour in Tuticorin.

He was like any other normal person who goes to a tea shop in the morning - unkempt hair, lungi folded in two and a messed up shirt. He was sitting in the benach and staring blankly. His face brightened up when he saw a friend (?) approaching the tea stall. He asked for a tea.

"Aren't you going to the mass now?".

"No, I plan to go in the evening. That's when the crowd will come, and I can meet a lot more people". His friend moved away and ordered a tea for himself.

He took a small notebook from his pocket and looked at an old photograph and mumbled loudly "I too plan to go in the evening. When every one is praying for their dead, I need to ask my father a few questions. You bugger, why did you leave me like this. Why did you torture me when you are alive and now when you are dead too..." He started cursing his dead father with all the cusswords he could muster. I looked closely at him and found that he was drunk.

The other customers drank their tea without bothering about his whining. His friend finished his tea, said to him "I have paid for your tea too" and walked away.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wish this post were in Tamil, so I could learn what it is you are translating as "bugger." (I'm also curious if the writing would be less awkward.)

Chenthil said...

Anon - I did think of writing it in Tamil, but wanted to test my writing skills. When I first heard the word bugger, it was used in a harmless way - like that bugger- and I equated it to saying that fellow. Only on reading Charles Devereaux was I enlightened (but that is another story). Old habits die hard, and I still use it as equivalent to a fellow.

The exact word that man used was "nasamaa pona en appane". I think "you old bastard" would be more apt.

I am sure my writing in Tamil would be more fluent and less stilted than how it is in English.

ashok said...

its 'kallarai thirunaal' (literally cemetry holy-day)

Anonymous said...

:)