Overwhelmed with joy by the prospect of a long journey into new lands, the first in my life, I shared my excitement with Kovalan. But he grew sullen. I detected a tinge of envy. By going away on new adventures, I was in some strange manner doing better than him. His behaviour was disappointing for I thought he would be happy for me.

His joy was mine, but he did not share my joy. That made me sad. Now I did not want to go. I wanted to remain in Puhar to keep Kovalan happy.

But Anandan was excited for me and told stories of new adventures that beckoned.

I trudged home, angry and confused, and cried myself to sleep. But by morning, I had resolved myself to Kovalan’s apathetic reception of the news. He was right, and I would not abandon him again. This journey would be the first and the last without him. In the future, I would place him before all else, for I believe there was no greater joy than to make him happy.

What I did not know was that, instead of a year, my parents had conspired to keep me away from the boys for several years—until I lost my boyish antics and reached marriageable age.

I lost my rough edges in that time but also acquired a new skill, one that my parents had not wished—I learned to ride horses. But it was a poor trade for all those years without Kovalan.

Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2019

Song of the Ankle Rings, an adaptation of Silappatikaram

Continued on Monday: A Child leaves and a Maiden shall Return


  1. Not sure if parents should intervene in their children’s business to have them learn to deal with situations themselves. But I guess it depends on the situation.

    1. Perhaps, and it also depends on the times.

      As recently as the 1940s/50s even in the west, parents had a great say in their children’s lives. This story is set in BCE India.


  2. Going to visit relatives or attend weddings was a big deal back then, there was never any talk about going overseas. Nowadays parents bring their children for holiday trips and going overseas is but a norm. How things have changed so much during our lifetime.

    I can understand Kannagi’s excitement and just to have Kovalan throw a wet blanket, must have made her disappointed and guilty.

    1. Hello Windy,

      Yes, those were rare outings and children looked forward to the visits – and were rewarded with ang pows and other gifts. So much has changed now.

      It is easy to feel sorry for one who is down. But when that person is riding high? Kovalan’s behaviour says much. For one thing, a true friend is one who can be happy for another’s good fortune/success.

      Have a great weekend,

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