The Greek misinterpreted my reticence as reluctance to proceed with the purchase. To bolster his case, he said,

‘I am told, sir Kovalan, in Tamil norms no blame attaches to one who speaks a thousand lies to facilitate a welcomed marriage. There is no lie required or attached to this gift of love, sir. Simply, do not reveal its pedigree. When a man adorns his lover’s neck with a sparkling diamond, does he also regale her with tales of the slaves who work the dark mines? Some things are best left unsaid and when you don’t speak, sir Kovalan, you don’t lie.

‘Watch your relatives and friends behold these delicate beauties with awe. Let them envy your resourcefulness in locating such rarities. There is no story here, sir, only a clean palm leaf. Write your own epic, sir Kovalan, as you lovingly slip these over your wife’s slender ankles. If these ankle bracelets are beautiful now, imagine them when worn by your peerless queen.’

‘And what of the price, my dear Greek?’ said Anandan. ‘I remain wary for my friend, Kovalan, for I know well your reputation for hard bargains.’

Insulted by Anandan’s sudden talk of money, my cheeks flushed red. Though a dear friend, he had spoken as a new rich which was thanks to his father. He is yet to learn that real wealth does not speak of money.

‘You must excuse our dear friend, Anandan,’ I said. ‘He exhibits a direct streak which is refreshing, but also promises an occasional shock.’

‘His intentions are laudable, sir Kovalan, to keep you as sharp as a sword and to keep me as honest as daylight.’ Telamonius tapped Anandan on the shoulder and said, ‘But as you can see, sir Anandan, your friend and mine, sir Kovalan, is a cultured man, and his regal bearing and words are in concord. It is not the ways of the learned to let coin come between them, for she owes no man her loyalty.’

‘Wisely spoken, sir Telamonius,’ I said, ‘for panam, gold coin, indeed lacks loyalty and she is a tenuous lover.’

Nevertheless, with the subject of money now in play, I felt compelled to commit.

‘Hear me, sir Telamonius,’ I said, ‘and let us not dwell on this base topic of money. Whatever your planned profit, I shall double it, for my delicate love, my wife-to-be, deserves a gift that remains in the dreams of all others.’

Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018

Song of the Ankle Rings, an adaptation of Silappatikaram

Continued on Monday: Chained and Unchained

12 comments

  1. As always your dialogue sings and the story advances tantalizingly. I am enjoying this work.
    The comment about money reminds me of one of the difference between the Texan and Englishman. Texans will stand admiringly around a new car and ask it’s cost along with the other characteristics. In the UK, when I was growing up, you NEVER asked the price of someone else’s possessions including a new car.

    1. Hello Jane,

      You’ve often said dialogue is my strong point. A couple of other friends have said so too. I’m humbled.

      When people in my writers’ group ask, I always say ditch that “bring out the closet writer in you”. We’re already writers. My approach is: “bring out the closet actor in you”. Once we get into character, the dialogue flows. It works for me. But I’m a poor actor and have much work ahead. LOL.

      Re: Texan vs Briton, when I was a kid my grandpa thought me what he learned from the British, the same thing you said: NEVER ask the price of someone else’s possessions (I quoted your words).

      But in Singapore, for the last 50 years or more, everyone – even total strangers – would come up and ask the price of your car, motorcycle, house. The only taboo: NEVER ask one’s salary – not even among close family. Only the spouse has that right. LOL.

      All good wishes for the weekend,
      Eric

    1. Thank you, Bill,

      For your visit and encouraging words. Much appreciate them.

      Yes, we’ve been there haven’t we – buying jewellery for the girls. I enjoyed our purchases. Unlike boutiques, one can bargain in the Chinese-owned goldsmiths in Singapore. I had great fun and landed some fantastic deals.

      All good wishes for the weekend,
      Eric

    1. Thank you, my Nairobi friend,

      Yes, the Greek does have a clever argument. It is so obvious that it sounds almost profound.

      Good to have you follow and comment 🙂

      Cheers!
      Eric

  2. The luxury of the rich where money is a base topic. It is telling enough of the different breed and their society level.

  3. Again beautifully expressed in authentic language Eric. It was a pleasure for me to read it. I was interested in in the phrase “Telamonius tapped Anandan on the shoulder” in some parts of the south this could be problematic. I suppose hand holding between men is quite acceptable but for a foreigner to touch in proximity to the head is gravely misunderstood apparently. I can remember trying to sort out a problem at the university when a foreigner touched the head of a man from the south-west and it became a tribal insult that had to be handled carefully to avoid a knifing from the community.

    1. Hello Ian,

      I knew you would pick that out – regarding Telamonius tapping Anandan. It is a measure of how close their friendship, thinks the Greek. But as events unfold in subsequent chapters, we notice the Greek overstepping decorum. His behaviour leads to subsequent drivers of the story.

      As you probably guessed, every single sentence drives story and/or character development. Any sentence that does not meet one of these criteria – needs revision or removal. I try hard to stick to that regime – but sometimes falter.

      Thank you for reading. I love and welcome your encouragement and critique.

      All good wishes for the weekend,
      Eric

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