‘The perfect gift to adorn the slender feet of your bride,’ said the Greek.

He spoke Tamil with a heavy accent, but passable enough for us to understand his words. Many years ago, the man had taken a Tamil girl for his mistress and gained an intimate knowledge of our local mores and quirks. He liked all things Tamil, and his inquisitive darting eyes always settled on any young woman in the vicinity.

Having noticed the Greek’s roving interest, I shot sharp looks at the servant girls and they vacated the courtyard. The Greek spied my silent dismissal but, feigning ignorance, he remained unfazed.

‘This one of a kind artefact was specially crafted, sir Kovalan, for the fortunate. The blood red rubies within give voice, and the anklets sing divine music.’

‘How did you come by these precious works of artisanship, sir Telamonius?’

‘Dear sir Kovalan, hear the full story and you too will be drawn to the ankle rings as I was when my eyes first beheld them. I had the good fortune to call on a dear friend, one who resides in a foreign land, who lately returned from his manufactory. He was the portrait of dejection. I enquired after his dull state, and the accomplished craftsman related a sorry tale.

‘His wealthy client, who had commissioned the anklets, not only rejected these marvels of craftsmanship but also commanded him to melt the pair and break the mould. It broke my dear friend’s heart to destroy this divine miracle. It was at this juncture, troubled as he was, that I, having chanced upon his predicament, suggested gaining purchase of the beautiful twins. He expressed reluctance tinged with fear, for he dared not disobey his client, but I relayed my plan to merchant the peerless pair in the pearly cities of Greece. There are many brown-eyed damsels in my sunny country, who will press their kings and lovers to acquire an article as rare as these wonders.

‘For truly, sir Kovalan, this pair created with tender patience and unrivalled skills was meant for new lovers. These were my thoughts as your friend and mine, sir Anandan here, mentioned your esteemed name and a possible need for some special gift to form part of the dowry for your virginal bride.’

‘Dear sir Telamonius,’ I said, ‘you offer the pleasure of ornaments, beautiful as they are in all aspects and of high value, but already rejected, even if the rejecter may be of noble birth. Why sir do you think I wish to adorn the feet of the queen of my heart with these discards? Do you not think my bright new wife deserves better?’

Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018

Song of the Ankle Rings, an adaptation of Silappatikaram

Continued on Monday: The Hand of Fate


  1. Oh, so the anklet is the intrigue article and I can imagine the craftsmanship involved. You have truly brought out the distinctive feature and such an invaluable piece of art.

    Secondly I cannot but agree with Ian, how engrossing you set the bargaining scene, with the right touch of tension. Will Kovalan buys it for his beautiful bride, Kannagi? I am curious to know.

    1. Hello Windy,

      Yes, the ankle rings are unique. The original story glosses over and does not highlight the uniqueness of the ankle rings – a plot hole I reckon and one which I plug in Song of the Ankle Rings.


    1. Hello Krishna,

      Thank you for your visit and comment (the first from you on my blog). Welcome aboard 🙂

      I’ll check out your blog too.

      All good wishes,

  2. Oh that reminds me of the glorious game of bargaining I enjoyed so much during my time in Asia. It is both a game and a necessary part of the purchase. without bargaining both the buyer and seller would exit the transaction feeling a sense of loss.
    I love the way you described this. The seller exaggerates the value of their product and the buyer treats it as unworthy of purchase.
    If the maximum score for blogging was a ten Eric, I’d have to give you a twenty for this one. 🙂

    1. Hello Ian, and thank you.

      Twenty out of a possible ten! Obviously, you are the author’s friend and your score will not hold up in court 🙂

      Bargaining is great fun and before shopping malls and fixed prices, I too indulged in it in Singapore, and then in the neighbouring countries.

      And yes, bargaining is a game that draws on all the wiles of the buyer/seller and the sciences and arts too. Whoever blinks first loses but the idea is to make him think he won so he will return.

      Have a great weekend and once again thank you for the high score,

    1. Hello and thank you, Bill

      There is at least one English translation of the original text I know of – and it is heavy reading, complete with religious (Jainism) overtones. There are some graphic novels for children. Obviously, there are also several versions written in the regional languages of India.

      Song of the Ankle Rings is probably the first direct English version and it is an adaptation that caters to the modern reader. I’ve also removed all references to religious tenets.


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