Book 1 | Chapter 18 | Idumbankaari
We return back to the banks of the River Kollidam, where Vandhiyathevan had gotten a new horse, and had left on his way to Thanjavur.
Alwarkadiyaan Nambi was lost in deep thought.
“Who is this fellow? He seems to be a very sharp warrior. I wonder who this warrior really works for? Is he really from Aditya Karikalan? I am not sure if this boy had anything to do with the midnight meeting at Kadambur.”
“Saami, are you talking to yourself, or are you talking to the tree?”
Nambi was shaken out of his reverie, to see the Kadambur warrior standing next to him.
“Son, what is your name?”
“Why are you asking Saami?”
“You saved me from falling into the Kollidam to the crocodiles. I would like to remember you.”
“My name is Idumbankaari.”
Idumbankaari then joined his too palms together, one top of the other, and waved his two thumbs up and down. While he was doing this sign, he looked into Nambi’s eyes.
“What is this sign, you are doing, son?”
Idumbankaari realized that Alwarkadiyaan Nambi did not recognize the secret sign. He had opened up to the wrong person. Fear gripped his innards. A mistake. Mistakes were costly.
“Saami, nothing. I never did any sign.”
“Son, I saw you making a sign of the first avataram of Vishnu — the matsya avataram, where Lord Vishnu came in the form of a fish.”
“Haha. Looks like you are very tired.”
“Let that go, did you see which direction the Veera Shaivite go?”
“Yes sir. He went in the same direction as I gone. He came along cursing you all the way.”
“Do you know which town he is from?”
“He said he is from Pullirukkavelur (present day Vaitheeswarankovil).
“I need to go and settle a score with the Shaivite then. Are you also headed in that direction?”
“No Saami, I need to cross the Kollidam, and head back to Kadambur.”
“Then go right now. It looks like the boat is about to leave.”
Around halfway to the ferry point, Idumbankaari looked back. He could not see Alwarkadiyaan Nambi anywhere. Little did he know that, Nambi had quickly climbed up the banyan tree.
Idumbankaari asked the oarsman to leave, and mentioned to him that he will catch the next boat.
“What I thought was correct. Idumbankaari has not caught the boat. He seems to be returning back. I need to find out which direction he is headed. He did a matsya sign to me. What would a fish sign mean? Hmm?”
And then it struck him — “The fish was the symbol on the Pandiya flag. I need to wait and see what this man is up to. It definitely seems fishy. I should definitely wait and see where this mysterious plot is headed.”
By this time, Nambi had climbed up to a thick branch and hid behind a thicket of leaves. Idumbankaari searched all around the banyan tree to make sure no one else was around. He then settled down below the tree. He seemed to be waiting for someone.
Time went by. Nambi’s feet were getting numb. Just when Nambi had almost lost all of his patience, a man walked towards the banyan tree. He was coming from the Kudandhai direction. This was the person Idumban was waiting for. The two of them made the same code sign — the sign of the fish.
“What is your name?”
“My name is Idumbankaari. What is yours?”
“Hmm. I am Soman Saambhavan.”
“Where are we headed to?”
“To the Pallippadai. The Enemy’s Pallippadai.”
“Shh. Yes. But keep your voice down. Someone might hear. I do not know the way. You lead the way, and I will follow.”
“The way is through thick forests and is dangerous. Keep close to me.”
The two of them started walking towards Thiruppurambiyam.
Nambi waited on top of the tree, until the two people were out of sight. He then jumped down.
“Aha. What a twist in the turn of events. This is getting more and more mysterious. They were referring to the Pallippadai dedicated to the Gangainaadu Emperor Prithivipadhi. That is the one in Thiruppurambiyam. The Pallippadai is in ruins now. There are forests all around. It is some distance away from the village. What is it that these two need to discuss in such a place? I am sure there must be more people coming to meet there.”
“Also, why are they calling Prithivipadhi the enemy? Who is it that Prithivipadhi was an enemy? The Pandiyas? Aaha. Something ‘fishy’ indeed”, Nambi smiled at his own play of words.
While the two men took the Kollidam bank route, Nambi decided to take the Manni River bank route. The Manni River route was more dangerous but Nambi was a brave man. He started walking down the Manni River through the desolate forests. By sundown, Nambi had reached Thiruppurambiyam.
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