Book 1 | Chapter 17 | Meeting Kundavai Again

River Cauvery (img src: tripoto)

To read from the first Chapter — https://medium.com/son-of-cauvery

Princess Kundavai had almost decided within herself that Vaanathi would be an ideal queen for Arulmozhi. But, there was one big flaw with Vaanathi, which she wanted to fix. This was her fearful nature. Her brother was going to be the most powerful person, ruling over the largest kingdom in these parts. How could one, who is going to marry him, be a fearful person?

To fix this flaw of hers, was the reason, she had set up this elaborate crocodile plan.

After Princess Kundavai and Vaanathi had come back from the Kudandhai astrologer’s house, they had got onto the river boat and sailed down the Arasalar to a spot, where they usually docked the boat, and played in the water.

And this was where the decoy crocodile had been planted.

One of the maidens had started the ploy of screaming — “Ayyo” and pointing to the crocodile. As planned, everyone else had joined in. There was one person who was not screaming, and surprisingly, it was Vaanathi.

She calmly said — “Akka, a crocodile is dangerous only when it is in water. It is far less dangerous when on the shore.”

One of the maidens looked surprised and said — “It almost feels like you know that the crocodile is a decoy and not a real one.”

“Even if it was a real crocodile, I would not have been surprised. I am more afraid of small reptiles like lizards and chameleons.”

Princess Kundavai smiled at her best friend with a very relieved look on her face.

It was at this time, our dear hero Vallavarayan Vandhiyathevan had come to the ‘rescue’ of the ladies.

Vandhiyathevan looked at the charismatic lady in front of her. He had felt sad earlier that he had not heard her voice. But now he heard her. That beautiful voice. But he was still befuddled as to why she is stepping in front of the crocodile. And why the crocodile was so still in the water.

“Dear Sir, at the astrologer’s house, you had expressed your apologies for entering into the house when we were there. We did not reply. This could have caused a bad reputation of the ladies of this great Chozha kingdom, in your mind. Please do not take that to heart. The girl with me had fainted and had just recovered consciousness. My thoughts were a little clouded because of the incident. This was the reason why we had not responded.”

“Vandhiyathevan still stood frozen on hearing the mellifluous voice of the lady. Something about her presence affected him.”

“You came to rescue us from this crocodile. Your aim with your spear was on the mark. It is rare to find such a good marksman.”

He heard giggling from behind the trees. He went and removed his spear. Blood did not come out spurting. There was just some mud and hay that came out. Vandhiyathevan felt embarrassed. Embarrassed beyond words. He did not know what to do, except jump on his horse. He showed his anger on the horse by giving it a couple of kicks on its sides. The horse reared on its two legs and shot off in the direction that Vandhiyathevan guided it.

Princess Kundavai kept looking in the direction of the horse rider, until he was out of sight.

She then looked at her maidens who had giggled earlier — “That was not the right behavior. Within ourselves, you can behave however way you want, but when we have visitors in our midst, we should show restraint. What will he think of the ladies of Chozha kingdom now?”

Book 1 | Chapter 1 | Veeranarayana Lake

Veeranam Lake — erstwhile Veeranarayana lake. img src: cuddalore.nic.in

On a windy august evening, a horse and a rider trudged along the banks of the Veeranarayana Lake. The horse was tired, but the rider was not. The lake was brimming with the newly flooded waters flowing in from the River Vadakaveri (present day River Kollidam). This was a man-made lake built by Rajaditya Chozhan, son of the great Parantaka Chozhan.

The Chozhas were indeed great rulers — impartial in justice, able in administration, and did ample service to God and God fearing citizens. Their engineering and architectural marvels, including this lake, and its numerous sluices were unmatched.

The young warriors name was Vandhiyathevan. It had been a long ride from Kanchipuram. He was taking with him personal messages from his Master, the Crown Prince of the Chozha kingdom, and commander of the Northern provinces, Prince Aditya Karikalan. The messages were for the Chozha Emperor, Sundara Chozhan and his daughter, Princess Kundavai. He was counting the number of sluices that led the controlled waters out of the lake to numerous canals. He wanted to check if there really were seventy four of them.

As he reached the edge of the lake, where the Vadakaveri was emptying its waters into the lake, he realized that today was the 18th day of the Tamizh month of Aadi, and it was the festival of Padhinettaam-Perukku. It was a harvest festival, and the common folk were celebrating by picnicking on the river banks. There was celebration everywhere. Ladies were singing folk songs which praised the Emperor. Young girls and boys were giggling and running around flirting with each other.

And then suddenly there was commotion. A fleet of ships sailed down the river. The ships in the front had soldiers with their spears glistening. The ship in the center had a flag with the palm tree insignia. Vandhiyathevan quickly realized that this convoy was that of the Pazhuvettarayar family.

The Pazhuvettarayar family, originally from Pazhuvur, had been loyal to the Chozha emperors for generations, due to which they enjoyed special privileges — including the privilege to fly their own flag. The two brothers, known as the Periya Pazhuvettarayar and Chinna Pazhuvettarayar, were brave in battle and had many a scar from victories over rival kings. The brothers no longer fought battles because of their age. Instead, the family controlled the treasury and the granary of the Empire.

The soldiers from the first ship jumped onto the river bank and began forming a cordon. The people, recognizing who it was, did not resist, and moved away from the cordon.

Vandhiyathevan had heard about the bravery of Periya Pazhuvettarayar, and was in half a mind to go closer and take another look. But his Master had explicitly asked him to not indulge in any distractions. He had asked Vandhiyathevan not to pick or participate in fights along the way. His Master knew him too well. He spurred his horse forward.

He decided to stay the night at the Palace of Kadambur Sambuvarayar, and continue on his journey the next morning. He would probably have to change his horse too.

And yes, there were indeed seventy four sluices leading out of the lake.