Marabu and Siru Kye Neetti

M.A. Rahman; published by Ilampirai Pathippakam, 14/23 Wahab Street, G3 Mohsin Regency, Choolaimedu High Road, Chennai 600 094; Prices Rs.90.00 and Rs.100.00 respectively.

Marabu is a collection of 30 stories in Tamil, all allegories. Allegory is defined as a narrative description of a subject in the guise of another having points with symbolic representation. As mentioned in the introduction, such writings are not popular in Tamil. The introduction is followed by stories by the Marathi writer V.S. Khandekar, Khalil Gibran, and stories from Aesop’s Fables and the Bible.

The title, ‘Marabu’, points to a competition between the river Ganga and the sea — pure water and the salt sea water — where the Ganga is unwilling to mix with the brackish water. The dispute is taken to God, who informs Ganga that her water is mixed with the sea and again pure water is brought to the river through dark clouds, which is the marabu or tradition.

In another story, the cuckoo raises her sweet voice, being superior to the crow, but when the crow hatches her eggs, it becomes superior. Another story informs that the plant with paddy bows down and the one with chaff, the false plant, stands erect.

A library owner is proud of his collection of books but the red ants claim that they have read most of the books. The banyan tree’s branches feel they are great but forget that the tree was born out of a tiny seed. A priest in search of pleasure is told by a farmer who works in the field that he could give him a tool to dig the soil where he will find his pleasure.

In another story, a spider weaves its web and a fly is caught in it unwittingly, leading the spider to believe that he is more intelligent than the fly. There is also the well-known story of the locust which falls in love with the flame and gets its wings burnt.

The second book, ‘Siru Kye Neetti’, is a colleciton of six short stories on various subjects. The narration is worthy of admiration. The stories are brief and fast moving. ‘Poo’ has a tragic ending. The young woman has delivers a baby through Caesarean, and the husband is advised by the doctor not to have another baby for a few years. The husband fails to heed the advice and loses his wife. In the story titled ‘Elephant,’ the game of chess is brought to life in a family.

The fourth story preaches non-violence between Tamils and Sinhalese. ‘Eeman’ is a story of Islam during the Mughal period and states that Muslims never commit suicide at any cost and it is against the Islam. The last story, a well narrated one, revolves round a one rupee coin in an orthodox religious family.

Both books have powerful narrations. The books were originally printed and published in Sri Lanka in 1964 and 1998 respectively, and are now being reprinted in Chennai.