My wedding date loomed, and with dozens of matters requiring attention, the well-ordered household had grown chaotic. Heaps of shimmering fabrics, a jumble of brass and silverware, and piles of perfumed wood and eye-catching oil lamps and figurines assembled for the wedding cluttered the courtyard.

Father attended to the high officials and Mother to the ladies and their whims. It fell on me, despite constant interference from relatives and well-wishers who kept flaunting age and experience to steer things their way, to arrange for the garments, jewellery, and dowry for Kannagi. My bride.

I smiled. Friend, confidante, and even competitor. But bride? Kannagi and Kovalan. Kovalan and Kannagi. Day and night. Sun and moon. Two earrings to complete the whole. Paired all our lives, it was difficult to mention one name without the other rolling off the tongue. Promised at birth, and the day would soon be upon us.

The principal article for Kannagi’s dowry had caused many sleepless nights and several days of counsel as I sifted through a vast selection of treasures fit for my future queen. I exercised great diligence because family, friends, and wider society would be quick to fault any shortcomings, whether real or imagined. As I was my parents’ only son, my future wife, the incoming flame of the family altar, would in time hold the keys to our fortunes—she will wield the keys to the iron safes. A heavy responsibility that my parents would transfer after a suitable passage of time, with the arrival of the first grandchild. Until then, the elders deemed the newlyweds as too inexperienced and too preoccupied with one another, and even too frivolous, to shoulder the burden.

With celebrations stretching for days, Mother had declared that her new daughter-in-law would not wear the same set of clothing and jewellery twice. There were plenty of all nine auspicious stones: brilliant white diamonds; fiery red rubies; flawless green emeralds; perfect milky pearls; flaming orange coral; honey coloured yellow sapphires; multi-hued blue sapphires; lustrous hessonites; and lightning streaked cats eye gemstones. Added to these were the usual gold and silver. I selected the finest silks imported specially from Seenam, the mighty nation of the Middle Kingdom in the Orient. The ship survived the perilous journey, several weeks long, and when the captain finally dropped anchor, Father heaved a sigh of relief. And as the days progressed, the symbols of high wealth scattered throughout the house continued to grow.

The entire city had some part to play in the wedding. And when Anandan, my friend of six lives, appeared, with welcomed relief I embraced him. He was second only to Kannagi in my heart. He would provide a respite from the chores and perhaps even a solution to my problem. Anandan did not fail me on both counts.

He fetched Telamonius the Greek, a man of many years and a merchant of sorts, who had in his possession an intriguing article.

Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018

Song of the Ankle Rings, an adaptation of Silappatikaram

Continued on Friday: A Discard for a Wedding Gift

18 comments

  1. I woke up around 4am and thought why not? Read through all the chapters in one shot…a page-clicker indeed… I’m familiar with the story but never has it come alive and fleshed out as your have made it! I also like how you alternate between longer descriptive chapters and short more ones. I’m nothing but astounded at your writing of course. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Q,

      For going over the installments and for your lovely comment. You started reading at 4.00 am – gosh. That’s remarkable. I hope you manage to get a good sleep tonight.

      I’ll quote from the front metadata of the book:

      This work of fiction is not an accurate account of the original story. Song of the Ankle Rings removed several characters and scenes and introduced new characters and scenes to dramatise the story and render it more acceptable to modern readers.

      The author does not intend this adaptation to hurt anyone’s sentiments.

      As you can deduce, I’ve taken plenty of the liberty with the story line. Removed all references to religion and mythology, and made it more realistic/believable – as in a regular fiction.

      Hope that you like the complete work when you get round to reading it.

      Thank you and all good wishes,
      Eric

  2. Thank you; what a lovely surprise as I wasn’t expecting a story from you. Your well written descriptions transport me into another world and I love it. So glad that you have time to delight your readers like me!

    1. Hello Jane,

      Thank you for reading, commenting, and encouraging.

      Good to know you can visualise the world I’ve created in my novel. Looks like I’m on the right track.

      Have a great week ahead,
      Eric

  3. I love the hustle and bustle of the wedding preparations. Even these days I believe it is a huge event and brings together families, relatives and friends. Especially the rich, they get to flaunt their wealth and why not. You brought out the excitement and totally lit up the occasion. Will have to wait for the next slot on this intriguing gift.

    1. Hello Windy,

      Glad the “hustle and bustle” as you say came through. Yes, most weddings are an opportunity to meet/catch up with extended families and friends. Not much has changed in that regards, I suppose.

      Thank you for reading and commenting. Hope you enjoy the following blog posts.

      All good wishes for the week ahead,
      Eric

    1. Hello Jane dear,

      Yes, many customs endure and other cultural aspects continue to evolve in societies across the world.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      I trust all is well in your neck of the woods. You’ve not posted in a while and I’m guessing you’re gainfully busy with all those calls for “de-cluttering” work. All the best.

      Hugz back from your special buddy,
      Eric

      1. Hello my special buddy, you always bring your characters alive for me. 🦋

        Yes, I am busy and so very blessed in how this venture is growing. Decluttering is in much demand and I get to do all sorts alongside it. I am thriving and feel I was made for this. I will post soon. My Mum and Dad celebrated their Diamond Wedding Anniversary a few weeks ago. I want to find the words to wrote about that.

        Hugs and much 💗 flowing to you, Lisa and yours. Xx

  4. Some of your description survives even today among those who are conservative and seeking to hold the line against almost overpowering effects of globalization in the cities. All rural areas lag behind by at least fifty years and regardless of the directives coming out of New Delhi the local village councils dictate culture and the interface with those modern cities to see village folkways are not affected by metropolitan modern values. You made my memories of travel in South India come alive again. 🙂

    1. Hello Ian,

      You’re right. From what I understand, the village panchayat—village council—continues to wield quite a bit of power to this day. But I do not know their limitations.

      Many old practices survive in many forms in all societies, I reckon. But sometimes, we do not readily recognise the history behind these practices. For another, etymology—the history of words—provides a window to our past.

      Over time, all societies change. But whether such progress changes people and society for the better or worse, depends on the change and/or one’s viewpoints.

      Happy to have brought old travel memories to the fore 🙂

      All good wishes for the week ahead,
      Eric

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