That night, after dinner, Vandhiyathevan met Thyagavidangar, the lighthouse keeper, alone. He expressed his desire to cross over to Lanka.
“There was a time when there used to be a large number of boats here. They are all now in Sethukarai. They are helping our troops fight the war in Lanka. I have two boats, one of which my son has taken. He has gone with the two people who came yesterday. I am not sure when he will return.”
“Sir, can you tell me who the two people who came yesterday were? Your daughter mentioned that they did not look very amiable.”
“Yes. I did not like them either. I am not sure who they were. They had a ring with the Pazhuvettarayar’s insignia. I would still not have let my son go. Unfortunately, my daughter-in-law has an extreme greed for money. When she heard that the two strangers were ready to give a big bag full of money, she forced her husband to go.”
“And your son did not listen to your words? Anyway, I do not wish to interfere in your family affairs.”
“There is nothing wrong in you asking. My son has a…”
Vandhiyathevan remembered what Amudhan had said about this family, and remembered that the son was dumb.
“I now remember, sir. I remember what Amudhan told me about your son. I am sorry.”
“Oh, you are that brave man, whom Amudhan had helped. Word about you has reached all corners of the kingdom. I hear they are searching for you all over.”
“That does not bother me at all. But, please do not mistake me to be someone who is running away from these people. I am going to Lanka to deliver an important scroll.”
“I am thinking about the favour you are asking of me. One of my boats is gone. I do have one more boat, but there is no one to take you. Would you and your friend be able to take the craft to Lanka?”
“I do not think so. Neither my friend nor I know how to sail a craft. In fact, I am a little scared of the water. My friend is not coming with me to Lanka. He is here to get some herbs and return to Pazhayarai.”
“If it is only you, then there is one way. The best sailor in this region is Poonkuzhali, but it is also the most difficult task to convince her to take you. I would advise you to not ask her right now. Wait for an opportune moment and ask. If she refuses now, it would be difficult to convince her later.”
Vandhiyathevan walked towards the lighthouse and lay down in the verandah of the keeper’s house. Tiredness took its toll. He was asleep in no time.
After a few hours, he heard someone open the door and walk out. It was Poonkuzhali. Vandhiyathevan remembered what Poonkuzhali had said earlier in the day. He forced himself to wake up and followed her. He thought it might be good to know more about her. It might help him in convincing her the next day, to take him to Lanka.
She started walking faster. It took a lot of effort to keep up with her. He followed her across the bush forest. They went up and down the dunes of seashore sand. It became darker as they went further away from the lighthouse. He almost had to run to keep up with her. And then she vanished.
He looked around and strained to see where she was. The trees cast gloomy shadows all around. Fireflies flitted around. And then suddenly he saw a figure sitting on top of a tree. And almost at the same time, he heard a sad melancholy song. He slowly walked towards the figure. He noticed that he was climbing a small hillock on top of which was the tree, on which she was sitting. He reached the top and stood mesmerised at the view from the top. He could not see the lighthouse. He could see the silver sands. He could see the waves lapping on the beach.
She stopped singing abruptly.
“Vandhiyatheva, so you have come! I saw you sleeping like Kumbakarnan outside the house.”
“I woke up when I heard the door open. It was quite a task to follow you to this place.”
“Why did you have to follow me?”
“You only asked me to come here, if I wanted to see your… lovers.”
“Hah! So, see them. Turn around and see.”