Perunkaviko, Va.Mu. Sethuraman in writing Sethu Kappiam, (Marumalarchi Kaandam) Part 3, has told us the story of Arunmozhi and Sethu and, in the process, has dealt with various issues that affected Tamil Nadu. Mention is also made of the praise showered on the Tirukkural by Albert Schweitzer and how Russian writer-philosopher Leo Tolstoy read Tirukkural and later explained its significance to Mahatma Gandhi.

Lucid, lovely and lyrical, the Kaappiyam traverses along, producing in its wake drama, devotion and the many vicissitudes in the life of the hero, Arunmozhi. The faithful mirror is held to reflect the many moods. And more than that, what has been built into this poetical narrative is contemporary history. The anti-Hindi agitation, the relationship between Tibet and China, Ma Po Si’s deeds, the bravado of Thillayadi Valliammai, Vallalar’s philosophy, Annadurai’s vision, the struggle at Kallakudi, the black flag demonstration against Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, references to Periyar - all these have been well contextualised, providing the historical background.

Dravidian movement

The story begins by telling us the kind of education hero Arunmozhi undergoes and the influence his teacher Kandasamy had in his life, at Mallipuththur. The two share a deep bond and get attracted to the Dravidian movement. Sethu, the would-be consort of Arunmozhi, is shown as a picture of determination refusing to marry anyone else. Though she longs for him (Arunmozhi), she is willing to wait.

The poet’s love of Nature is abundantly exposed. Of the falls at Kutraalam ‘Oppil natrala maththalaththin isai pola athirndhu - suzndha paravaigalo geetha isai paadum, engum arpudhangal suzndhu irukkum kaatchi’ and the kind of metaphor he uses to say that ‘Aruviyo vizhum- padikkum maanavartham padippai mudiththu padham veedu sellal pol thullum’ will enthral even the unlettered.

A social issue such as Brahminism which intrudes the marriage of Arun-Sethu is dealt with thus -- Paarpaniyar verukkaathir, paarpaniyaththai veruppir’ (Periyar). While describing their marriage, the muse says the ceremonies were held in ‘Suyamariyaathai muraiyil, sudarthamizh nalmuraiyinile seyalaagum thirumanam.

The face of humanism pervades the Kaappiyam. The ring episode where the ultimate detector/diviner is none other than a gypsy, who remembers Arun as a small boy, refuses a gift offered by Arun. “I would rather have an invitation for your marriage.” The gypsy has a heart and dignity too.

Another seven cantos are in the pipeline. May that happen soon!

(sivakumar2004@gmail.com)