Friday, June 04, 2010
The Echo of Moonlight
Pari had died,
and the sun had vanished in the darkness.
Ankavai and Cankavai
They had fallen
to the “royal drums beating victory”
and on their hill, on a narrow path
that seemed to be filled with the sorrow
of their downcast moonlike faces
Pari’s daughters walked. Coming down
from the hill, the moonlight itself seemed to walk slowly
to accompany Kapilar, who had grown so old.
As they walked,
whiteness flowed over everything --
the hair of Kapilar,
and the good life of Parampu.
With reverence Kapilar entrusted
Pari’s daughters whose lives were broken
to Auvai and disappeared.
The journey continued.
Pari’s daughters walked with Auvai
and with all the village
so poor their only food was gruel,
and the moon stood, hesitating, and went with them.
As if her long life
granted by Atiyaman’s nelli fruit
were approaching its end,
Sealing the marriages by pouring water,
she gave Pari’s daughters
to the men who had destroyed their lives on Parampu mountain,
Pari’s daughters who, like her,
If only she had given them
to the families of men so poor
that, late in giving taxes,
they have only gruel or porridge to pay,
Pari’s soul would have rejoiced.
That day, in the white light of that moon,
there was Parampu mountain,
and the drums beating victory,
and Ankavai and Cankavai
who became slaves in the harem of kings
and cried in pain -- and now
on this day, in the white light of this moon,
their echoes still resound.
Original poetry in Tamil by S. Vilvaratnam
Translated by: George L. Hart