Book 2 | Chapter 37 | Cauvery Amman

Sinharaja Jungles, Lanka (img src: wikimedia)

Vandhiyathevan and Nambi sat down next to Prince Arulmozhi Varman. And the Prince began to talk.

“When I was young, my parents and my siblings had gone down on a leisurely cruise down the Kaveri River. I remember sitting close to the edge of the boat and staring deeply at the strong currents of the river and how small flowers were dancing on them. And then suddenly, I fell into the water. I still remember being swept by the strong currents of the river. I remember thinking that the river was going to sweep me into the ocean, and that I would never be able to see my parents or siblings again.”

“At that time, I remember someone saving me. Gentle hands swooped me up from the water and raised me upwards. I had swallowed a lot of water. I took a good look at the lady, and the face remains inscribed in my memory. And then I was handed to someone else, and hoisted on to the boat. I then got distracted by the love and affection of my family, who were immeasurably relieved that I had survived. After a while, the question of who had saved me arose. The lady had disappeared. Everyone on the boat had deemed it a miracle and assumed that it was the Goddess Kaveri herself who had saved me. They also started calling me ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ – the son of Goddess Kaveri.”

“The urge to meet the lady who saved me was very strong, and for a few years, I kept searching everywhere I went. And then slowly, I lost interest. Around a year back, I became the commander of the forces in Lanka. General Boodhi Vikramakesari was already present here at that time. I had expressed a desire to explore all the parts of Lanka that were under our control. With a small select force of a thousand troops, I scoured this island of Lanka from east to west and north to south. During one of these journeys, we had camped in a forest very close to this city. Near our camp was an elephant settlement as well. There were several uninhabited small islets near the coast as well.”

“There was something eerie happening in this area though. Every night, we would hear the moans and wails of a woman. Actually, we were not sure if it was a human wail, or the call of a bird. After a few days, we decided to go and investigate. We found that it was a lady, who started running very fast, once she saw us. I soon figured that it would be very difficult if we followed as a group. I ordered the rest of the force to stop, and I pursued her. After a distance, when she saw that I was alone, she slowed down and motioned for me to come near. I was terrified now.”

“But, I went closer to her. The moonlight lit up her face. She had the most enchanting smile. And then it dawned on me. This was the person who had saved me from drowning in the River Kaveri, when I was young. I then proceeded to ask her who she was and why she was roaming around my camp, and as to why she was wailing in sorrow.”

“She did not answer. After a while, tears of sorrow flooded from her eyes. I could not bear to see so much sorrow in front of my eyes. She seemed to want to tell me, but she could not. And then I realised that she was a mute. She did not have the capacity to talk. She suddenly hugged me and kissed my forehead, and before I realised, she ran away and vanished.”

“When I went back to camp, and the others asked me who she was, I told them that she was a normal lady, who had suffered immense sorrow in her life. I also told them, if she did come by in the future, the soldiers were not to pursue her or trouble her.”

“I spent the next day thinking whether to move camp elsewhere, but I wanted to see her once more. Night fell, and I heard the wailing again. I gave strict orders to my soldiers not to follow me, and I went again, to the place where I had met her the night before. She was there standing, smiling, waiting for me. She tried telling me something, but I did not understand anything. Then she took my hand and took me with her. I understood that she wanted to show me something.”

“She took me through dense forest, and at the end of the trail there was a small hut, and I saw a flickering lamp inside. Next to the lamp lay an old man. I could sense that the man was ill. He was shaking and shivering. His eyes were red as embers. His whole body shook when he shivered. I realised that he was affected with a rare kind of fever that was spreading in this region.”

“She took me out of the hut and using sign language, motioned to me to move my camp quickly. She seemed to tell me that this fever was spreading in this region, and I should save myself and move my camp. I also got to understand that she wants me to do this because of her immense love for me.”

The Prince sighed, “I gave orders to move the very next morning.”