Book 1 | Chapter 35 | Who caused the Sulking?

Twin temples at Keezhaiyur built by the Pazhuvettarayar feudal lords. (img src: wikipedia)

It was way past midnight when the Periya Pazhuvettarayar returned back to his palace. He thought, perhaps, he should not have been so harsh with his younger brother. But then, he could not tolerate anyone speak like that about his dear wife either. He still could not wrap his brain around how the young warrior could have gotten the ring. Could there be any truth in what Kaalanthakan was saying? He was very confused now. Did he just support a lady he had just recently rescued from within a forest and married? Was he justified in being harsh against his own brother, who had fought besides him in countless wars, and would give his life for him?

But, why does she keep asking for my insignia ring? Why does she go and sit alone in the latha mandapam? Why does she keep meeting that Sorcerer from time to time?

Besides all that, he wondered, why, even after these three years of marriage, she had not let him have conjugal pleasure even once. She had kept giving excuses of religious observances.

He thought to himself, that he had to have a serious conversation with Nandini tonight.

She found the palace courtiers all waiting to pay their respects and welcome him. All, but the Queen herself. When he asked, one of the hand-maidens mentioned that the Queen was still in the latha mandapam.

The Periya Pazhuvettarayar started walking towards the gardens.

She was sulking. She was angry. But he did not know why she was angry.

The Periya Pazhuvettarayar cursed under his breath. Now he would need to pacify her first, before he can have his serious conversation.

“Nandini, why are you angry?”

He tried placing his iron hand on her soft shoulder. She brushed it away.

“I am blessed to even have the touch of your hand that brushed me away. I am here to listen to your beautiful voice, but you will not talk to me?”

“It has been four full days since you left. Do you realize how lonely I have been?”

The iron man, who had fought the countless wars, melted. But one could see the flood of relief in his face.

“Was it for this that you were sulking? It was just four days. What would you do if I went for a war? I would be away for months.”

“I realize you have not understood me fully. I would have come with you to the war ground.”

The Pazhuvettarayar chuckled.

“I would never be able to take you there. Even the sight of a thorn piercing your leg would melt me. How can I fight a war with you besides me? Do you think these four days was difficult only for you? It was hell for me. I could not wait to come back and look at your beautiful face.”

He led her to the nearby chaise, and the two of them sat down. By this time, the thought of having a serious conversation had been forgotten.

“You had been gone for four days. Could you not have come here straight to see me? You had to see your brother first”, she said with feigned anger.

“I also wanted to come here straight. But, I had to make sure that the silly fool, Madhuranthakan had returned safely through the underground tunnel. That was the reason I had to stop by my brothers palace.”

“I am supportive of every activity that you carry out.” She hesitated, but continued, “I do feel bad that, you took a man in my personal palanquin. The entire kingdom thinks that you are taking me with you everywhere.”

Periya Pazhuvettarayar sighed. “I do not feel good about it either. But then, the plan that we are working on is a big one. We would need to do whatever it takes.”

He looked at her and said, “Do not also forget that this was your idea. The idea of smuggling Madhuranthakan in and out of the fort through the underground tunnel was also yours.”

“I was just doing my duty as a faithful wife. I will stop, if you do not like me interfering.”

“Is that all you did? This Madhuranthakan was so deeply engrossed in service to God, like his mother. He was initially against the idea of taking over the throne. We had been trying to brainwash him for a very long while. All it took was two long meetings with you, he has completely turned around. He cannot wait to ascend the throne now.”

Pazhuvettarayar found this as an excellent opportunity to breach one of his topics on his mind.

“You are proving to be a Sorcerer yourself, by doing these amazing tasks. Why should you be talking to another Sorcerer? There are people in the street who are talking about this.”

“I have already mentioned to you before why I talk to the Sorcerer. It is to take care of the poisonous snake that resides in Pazhayarai. You men, can take care of the wars. You deem it as below your dignity to deal with women. But then this snake is dangerous. I cannot forget the way Kundavai humiliated me that day. I remember those exact words. I will never forget those words. She said that I looked like a Deva Mohini and she asked me, why I was marrying an old buffalo like you, who is waiting to die any moment.”

Nandini wept uncontrollably.