Book 3

Book 3 | Chapter 24 | Vanathi regains consciousness

She could hear the Princess talking with the young warrior. She felt cheated as she realised that the wedding with the Prince was just a figment of her imagination, a mere dream. While she could not yet open her eyes, she could hear. She had wished that the Princess had not saved her. She wanted to hear what they were talking about. Why did she have to save me? She could have just let me drown and die.

“She is blabbering something in her dizziness. Thankfully, we were within reach of the shore, when she was jumping into the water. I shudder to think what would have happened if we were not here?”

“Well, you would not have been able to save her life. Now, she has to go through several hardships, now that she is alive.”

Vanathi wondered how the Vaanarkula warrior was speaking compassionately on her behalf.

“How can you be so stone-hearted? Are all men like this?”

“Ammani, that is not what I am saying. I am just saying what she was blabbering might not happen, and could just lead her into more disappointment.”

“Why do you say that? You just now mentioned that the Prince is safe in the Choodamani Viharam at Nagapattinam.”

Vanathi was elated hearing this bit of information. She was now glad that she had not drowned. She owed a huge debt of gratitude to the Princess for saving her.

“Ammani, yes. The Prince is safe, but what this girl is saying may not happen.”

“Ayya, you are repeating yourself. I wonder what makes you think so. It is not just that this girl loves my brother deeply, it is also my wish that Arulmozhi marries her. My brother would never go against my wishes.”

“Ammani, perhaps the Prince might listen to everything else that you might advise him on, but on this matter, I think not. He was also telling me that he would never want to sit on a throne, even if you tell him to. He refused the Lankan throne right in front of me.”

“What would the Prince see as a fault in Vanathi? What do you see in her?”

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with her. I am very sure that Prince does not see any fault in her.”

He hesitated and said, “I am thinking that, perhaps, there might be someone else in his heart.”

Vanathi was shell-shocked.

“Ayya, how can you say such things about my brother?”

“I speak what I know, and what I have seen.”

“Tell me more.”

“I have already told you about the boat girl, Poonkuzhali. She was the one who took me to Lanka. She was the one who brought us back. She was the one who saved the Prince’s life and mine. I have left the Prince in her hands, right now. If she had a thousand lives, she would lay all of them at the Prince’s feet.”

“Yet, she is just a boat girl. How can she even aspire to marry a Prince? How can a small sparrow flitting on the grass look up and desire to be one of the eagles?”

“Ammani, why not? A sparrow can desire to be an eagle, and an eagle can look down and want to be with the sparrow, as well.”

“Even if there is a hint of such a desire in Arulmozhi’s heart, I will remove it completely. I have saved him from so many dangers in the past. I will save him from the lusty web of this boat girl.”

“Why are you thinking of a boat girl as such a lowly one? Is it such a big matter? The blood that flows in your body is the same red blood that flows in her body as well. Take me, for instance. Would you want me to open my heart and tell you what I am thinking?”

“No, no. Please stop. I do not want you to open your thoughts. I am more concerned about royalty. Kings should marry only girls from other royal families. That is best for everyone. There is even an example in my own family for that. My father…,” and she stopped. “Why am I telling you all this? Vanathi also seems to be recovering. Please tell me about what else happened in Lanka?”

“There were several dangers that almost happened to the Prince, but each time, a lady kept saving us. She saved us from a building that collapsed right in front of us, and a fire that almost burnt us.”

“Ayya, even there, was it a lady who kept saving my brother?”

“Ammani, please stop imagining things. This lady is an elderly matron over forty-five years of age at least. She is a mute by birth.”

The Princess stopped him. “Please say that again. Did you say she was deaf and mute?”


“Tell me more, sir. Please tell me more. What did she look like? Where is she from? Where was she born?”

“She is from a small island close to the coast of Lanka. Her appearance took me by shock. She looked like someone from Thanjavur. The only difference was that she did not wear any jewels or any other finery, and her hair was open. The facial appearance was uncannily similar.”

“Who did she look like? This girl, Vanathi? My mother in Thanjavur?”

“No, my Lady. Can you not guess?”

The Princess slowly said, “The Pazhuvoor Rani, Nandini Devi?”


“Ayyo! What I guessed was right. That poisonous snake could be my half-sister. Do you now see the chaos that can be wrought by a Royal having a relationship with someone who is not from royalty?”

Vandhiyathevan retorted, “Who do you think is not from royalty? My ancestors were from the great Vanarkulam clan. They had fought great wars alongside the Chozhas.”

She interjected, “I am not talking about you, sir. I will hear your and your ancestors’ praises on another day. There is a lot that needs to be done now. I need your assistance for some more time. I hope you will continue helping me?”

“If I have a thousand lives, I will give them all to you. Give me your orders.”

“It looks like you are related to the boat girl. You are saying the same dialogue. I do not want to speak about that now. This girl is going to wake up any moment now.”

Vanathi had regained her strength. She now resolved to live, live long enough to prove to the Prince that she loved him more than the boat girl. She also remembered the wailing of the Emperor that night at Thanjavur, and her sighting of the lady in front of him. She was now able to piece together that scene and make a few inferences.”

She opened her eyes.

“Vanathi, how are you?”

I am fine, Akka. I am sorry that I troubled you.”

Alwarkadiyan came running. “I am also here to trouble you, Devi. There is a big crowd outside the palace gates. They are all emotional about the Prince having perished in the ocean. If you do not come and pacify the crowd, there might be a problem.”