Book 3

Book 3 | Chapter 19 | The Saviour

The mandapam was so crowded that the Vaidhiyar’s son, Pinakapani, could not get in to listen to Thirunaarayur Nambi. But he intently observed Vandhiyathevan. He saw Vandhiyathevan observing the Princess constantly. There was one other person who was observing Pinakapani watching Vandhiyathevan. He was none other than our old friend Alwarkadiyan Nambi.  

After the fortune telling session, Vandhiyathevan had requested to step out of the palace for some time to get some fresh air. As soon as he had stepped out of the gates, Pinakapani approached Vandhiyathevan, and asked, “Who are you, sir?” 

Vandhiyathevan was taken aback seeing Pinakapani. He took a moment to gather himself, and replied, “Sir, are you asking about this body in which I am in, or my inner soul, atma, or the power that controls all the souls, the Paramatma?” He invoked this anecdotal dialogue of Adi Sankara’s very deftly. “You should listen to religious scholars like Nambi to get answers to these questions.” 

He quickly got on to his horse and galloped away. This only raised Pinakapani’s suspicions. He went straight to the local guard outpost and explained the happenings to the chief guard, who dispatched two guards with Pinakapani. After searching for a short time, they found Vandhiyathevan resting in a cul-de-sac. 

“Guards, capture him. He is the spy who escaped from Thanjavur and sailed to Lanka,” said Pinakapani.  

“Stop right there. Spy? Who? Me? Are you mad? I am the fortune-teller who accompanied Prince Madhuranthakan.” 

“He is lying,” cried Pinakapani. Meanwhile, a crowd gathered around them. Some of them spoke for Vandhiyathevan claiming that he did not look like a spy, while others spoke against, questioning why a fortune-teller should be roaming around with a sword.  

Pinakapani was growing impatient. Out of the crowd came a booming voice, “Is the fortune-teller who came with Prince Madhuranthakan here? The Princess has summoned him.” Alwarkadiyan Nambi emerged from the crowd. 

Vandhiyathevan felt a jolt of joy. Pinakapani screamed with increased vigour, “Arrest him quickly. He will run away.” 

Nambi said, “Prove to me that you are the fortune-teller,” and he indicated with his eyes to a pair of riders galloping towards them. “Tell me what news those riders are bringing.” 

Vandhiyathevan cleared his throat, closed his eyes for a moment and said, “They are bringing bad news about a member of the royal family. Someone has been affected by the ocean.” 

The riders came to a halt because of the crowd.  

“Dear sirs, you look like messengers. What message are you bringing to us?” 

“We bring bad news. Prince Arulmozhi Varman has drowned in the ocean on the way from Lanka to the mainland. There was a squall. The Prince jumped into the sea to rescue someone, but drowned.” 

Many in the crowd wailed in sorrow. They loved their Prince. Some started murmuring rumours about the Pazhuvettarayar ordering the Prince be arrested and brought back to the mainland. They started cursing the Pazhuvettarayar. The messengers could not make their way through the crowd.  

Nambi looked at the two guards with Pinakapani and said, “What are you looking at? Clear the way. Help the messengers go to the palace.” 

In the sea of sorrow, no one listened to Pinakapani, who was screaming, “This is a ploy. A ploy to help the spy escape. Catch him.” 

Nambi whispered in Vandhiyathevan’s ears, “Leave the horse. We can find it later. Come with me quickly.” 

Vandhiyathevan replied, “You are my saviour. If it had not been for you, I do not know what would have happened to me.” 

“This is a habit of yours,” laughed Nambi. “You always get caught in a problem, and need someone to rescue you.” 

After the crowd had dispersed, Alwarkadiyan Nambi caught Vandhiyathevan’s hand and took him the other way. As he had done once earlier, he entered the General’s locked residence, and went to the backyard, towards the lake adjoining the Princess’ palace. A boat was there, with someone waiting in it. Vandhiyathevan’s heart skipped a beat. From a distance, it did look like the Princess, but he could not see clearly.