Thungabhadra’s Redemption by Suvarchala Chintalacheruvu Atchyutuni

The regal Thungabhadra was appearing and exhibiting itself as a nostalgic elemental-witness while holding and hugging the grandeur and splendour of the bygone era within itself. Its silent flow was reminiscent of the feelings of its longing to see, feel, behold and enjoy, one more time, with its million eyes of water droplets, the wonderful visage of Sri Krishna Devarayalu. Its hush-hush tone bordering on unspoken voice was conveying the perennial patience, with which it had been waiting for that auspicious occasion to get fructified at least one more time in its life time. People may think that Thungabhadra of the times of Rayalu, had flown down along with his era. They may not, however, know that what have got drained were only just water globules, but not the majestic memory modules.

It seems, there is one person, who has come down there to drink and feel those un-drained memory modules. Sri Krishna was seemingly contemplating, sharing and participating while enjoying the subtle magnificence as well as remnants of the reminiscences with the river. He, even though a highly qualified engineer and a management expert, what with his pedigree of coming out with distinction from the prestigious IIT and IIM making him one of the most sought-after persons in those areas, is as much an artiste as he is an engineer/manager. May be, more.

Arts, sadly for its truthful possessors, make them move away from money. Of course, he does neither have complaints nor have regrets. As a result, unsurprisingly to those, who know him the best, he declined highly lucrative offers from corporate giants for the sake of his pursuits that help humanity, but not himself in terms of filling his bank-coffers. He was big way into eco-friendly constructions to make the globe that is moving from warm-phase into hot-phase to return to its normal equilibrium. The other interesting facet is that he is a Teluguphile, the rarest of rare species in this modern era of Anglophiles dotting every inch of Telugu-land. He took it upon himself as a mission to bring glory to Telugu across the globe. He was planning very enthusiastically to submit good number of papers on the magnificence of his mother tongue in all forms, especially in literature in the international literary conferences/conventions/workshops and what not. He wanted this endeavour to move away from the futile trodden-path of mere translations. His plans included creating interest about Telugu in the bibliophiles of the west – the foreigners. Then, with the help of passionate Telugu connoisseurs, who are also resourceful and settled in West along with good number of professors, he wants literary-chairs be established in Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard, etc. These were presently his projects – in technology and in Telugu.

As part of those exciting eco-friendly technological research projects did he come to Hampi along with his wife Rani, who was present by his side, then. The natural air-cooling systems in lotus-mahal; the environment-friendly constructions involving boulders, limestone, sand and rocks-slabs attracted him. Among those resplendent Hampi ruins, he wanted to glean methodical engineering nuances that would be useful for modern constructions to become not too modern to ruin environment. But, more than that, when he was closely observing them, the glory of Vijayanagara empire touched a chord in him, sent a wonderful feeling directly into his heart and soul, sung a special serenade exclusively for him, took him back into its time and space, into its era.

***

Shaking Krishna, Rani broke the silence with a tone bordering on annoyance “Tell something, Krishna!”

He replied as if he was talking more to himself than to Rani with a tone reverberating in low-notes with his gaze firmly fixed on the the river “Is Thungabhadra not appearing as if it is conveying that we all, the mortals, come and leave since time immemorial, whereas, it has always been here, observing everything?”

Being attentive that she was, Rani could hear those rumblings, and asked with the mixed feelings of curiosity and irritation “What are you talking?”

Ignoring her words as well as her feelings, Krishna continued “I somehow feel Rayala vari[1]   words are still permeating the infinite airs over here even now. Just we should cultivate the ability of listening the unheard voices”

“Really, how is it possible?”, Rani started inquisitively

“Words also are energy. Aren’t they? If only the receivers that capture them are invented”

“Impossible”, she cut short his words

“When it is possible to receive radio waves, why not these? We should find out the ways and means. That’s all.”

“All your thoughts are crazy”, she almost withdrew from the argument. May be, to divert his attention.

But, Krishna continued with immense enthusiasm as if he was in some sort of trance, “Yes. I too feel the same. But, all great truths and deeds do emanate from crazy thoughts only. Look there. Is it not appearing as if the sparrows are tweeting on Rayagopuram, the bells chiming on Vithalaalayam, Rayala-vaaru propitiating in Viroopakshaalayam, and then sauntering and strolling on the banks of this Thungabhadra. I am even able to see his majestic court with all its splendor. Aren’t you able to feel it?”

“Yaa yaa. I, too, am feeling. But, not your way. I am able to recollect movie ‘Mahamantri Timmarusu’. My mom has forced me to sit in front of TV to watch it. Of course, I liked it! Not only that, even Ghantasala’s stentorian voice in “Silalapai silpaalu chekkinaaru” is also being heard by me”, Rani started joking.

Krishna laughed with a feeling of apathy at her silly talk, and continued “Do you remember Timmana’s Paarijaataapaharanam[2]?”

“It is not Timmana, but our Telugu master, who recited that poem”, Rani continued her humours talk

Neither Krishna’s laugh changed, nor did his talk. This time, he, rather, talked in further low voice “Are you not able to recollect anything?”

“I can remember the lesson perfectly. And, aa aa, Satyabhama kicking with her left-foot is very much in memory”, Rani took the tantalizing banter to a higher level.

Without giving any importance to Rani, Krishna continued as if he is not in this time and space at all “Have not five hundred years passed?”

“Yaa”, Rani replied normally.

“Do you remember that day?”

“Which day?”

“That day. The day after that Paarijaataapaharanam episode, I came into your majestic foyer. That day”

This time, Rani got really perplexed.

“Are you remembering?”, he repeated

“Sreeeee! Stop, you mad!!!…”, Rani shouted at once, and slapped hard on his shoulder.

This has really brought Krishna out of his thoughts, hangover and delusions.

“Why did you hit me”, he asked as if nothing has happened

“You are talking as if you are Sri Krishnadeva Rayalu. Over and above, you are uttering incongruently phrases like ‘Mukku Timmana’, ‘Parijatapaharanam’, ‘after coming into your majestic foyer’ and such nonsense”, Rani hurried in exasperation

“Oh Is that it? Parijatapaharanam is reminding me something. Yesterday, I could weave a fantastic Sarasohodantam”, replied he with a measure of enthusiasm.

This has reassured Rani that everything was not so abnormal as she thought. She then restarted participating in the talk.

“What? Sarasohodantam!?”, Rani’s face became a big question mark.

“Yaa Sarasa – Ooha – Udantam. A Sensuous Imaginary Tale”

“Oh! All the imaginations that you had till now are not sufficient. It seems, you started this process ever since we started for Hampi. OK! Should I take it that it, too, is related to the king Rayalu?”

“Oh! sure. You can think like that. But, after the tale is over, the colorful blushes that your cheeks sprout should be handed over to my lips”, Krishna replied with a mischievous romantic glint in his eyes.

“Oho! But, what if those enter into my eyes..!”, Rani asked while carefully trying to hide the shyness that she started getting.

“Then, you can give them to my cheeks”, Krishna slightly stuttered while answering. That he might not have expected such romantic repartee from her must hold the clue for his stuttering.

Then, both laughed out heartily.

“Tell”, Rani asked while moving closer to him.

Taking her hand into his, Sri Krishna started.

***

Few years after Rayalu had ascended the throne, and, had made his beloved consort the queen…

***

“Oh! how much! And, how many? Are all these flowers for her highness queen only!?” Malati almost got tired, along with almost ten others, while weaving and stitching all the flowers, that were forming big heaps in large plates in that majestic hall, into garlands. Not only exhaustion, but also envy must she have felt. Whether others too felt envious was not known, but certainly they too felt exhausted.

“Oh! loving to an extent is okay. But, this is too much”, here clearly not she, but her envy spoke to herself.

“Is it tempting or trembling?”. She has got good sense-of-humour too.

“Whatever it may be. Only his highness can do. See, it is for the first time that he came in over here, after he had left in intense anger caused by the haphazard way in which the queen had positioned herself on the bed then. This reconciliation could be possible only after his highness heard Parijaataapaharanam from the poet from Queen’s parental province. Then, he sent the communication that he was visiting her that day”, she was reminiscing.

When king arrives, that too Sri Krishnadeva Rayalu does, does he do it in any ordinary way? Doesn’t he pre-send his present state-of-mind before he sends himself? And, he manifested it in the form of those flowers then

Jaajulu[3], Mallelu[4], Sampengalu[5], Mogalirekulu[6], Kaluvalu[7], Devagannerulu[8] Chaamantulu[9], Bantulu[10]

That he made spring arrive in all its resplendence for the sake of his spouse directly into her chamber, right into her foyer, is possible only for such sprightly sensuous person like him.

All flowers in magnificent heaps.

All of them were quietly talking among themselves. Whispering excitedly that they would all become the blessed witnesses of the sensuousness of his highness Krishnadeva Rayalu during his that night sojourn. Queen’s seraglio itself was resembling a big garden what with it was fully filled with not only flowers, but also the fragrances that all those wonderful flowers were emanating. Bantulu and Chemantulu for doors, Kaluvalu and Devagannerulu  floating on waters in the big wide-mouthed bronze cauldrons, Jaajula garlands along the wonderfully carved wooden columns attached to the big cot. The tender mallelu have been sprayed very densely on the bed. The floral layer has become so thick that the fine silk bed-sheet that covered the mattress made out of superior cotton cover and filled with the finest of bird-feathers was not at all visible. The thick plait of queen was lined with strong fragranced mogalirekulu making it pretty important part for Rayalu to deal with that night during the arousal of their passions. Finally, the garland of sampengalu for the king.

While looking wondrously at all those flowers, Malati has got a romantic desire germinate in her. Ensuring that nobody was observing, she took as many flowers as can be taken by forming a  cup-shape joining both her hands together, and hid them in her saree. Then, she silently left the scene, and entered into the attached garden.

There, her beloved husband Thotaramudu was alone sitting as if waiting for someone.

Without making herself visible to him, she sprinkled all those flowers on him while chirpily laughing all the way.

Ramudu turned at once. He jumped and ran towards her to try to capture her hand. She, too, ran away from him making serpentine movements in that garden. Finally Ramudu could succeed in getting hold of her. He lifted her with both his hands and took her into their hut. He made her sit on the low-raised platform in there. Then, went out and gathered all the flowers that were sprayed by her. He, then, searched for a beautiful full-petalled Sampenga flower, which doesn’t have even a single scratch or ruffled mark on it. He took it into his hand, and looking lovingly into her dove-shaped eyes, that were closing with trembling anticipation of what he was going to do then, tenderly traced a curvaceous path on her sensuous neck. When he smelled it after that, it took him by surprise. He got astonished for its aroma matched that of mallelu. When asked, Malati too got nonplussed. She too checked it to enjoy the pleasant shocker. Her surprise got doubled when malle smelled like mogali. They reasoned, to their surprise and happiness, that their close proximity must have made their fragrances to get interchanged from one variety to the other. Those handful flowers sprouted lovely sensations of passionate desire in them. Those fragrances have cast such a splendid spell on them that they, while becoming intertwiningly a single body and a sole soul, did not come to know when actually Sun appeared on the horizon in the east the next morning. They did not have any idea about another happening too. Not at all related to Sri Surya Naranaya[11], but involving Sri Krishna Devarayalu.

Yes, Rayalu has seen both of them that evening in the garden. When he came into it, and was strolling to enjoy beauty of the nature to sufficiently get ready to both entertain and get entertained by his consort that night, he observed them. Curiosity got better of him, and he further went ahead, and saw some not-to-be-seen scenes too that night.

***

The night passed.

All the worn-out flowers were thrown into the flower-well positioned in the south-west of the garden. The servant maids have, the next day, while cleaning the room, swept them and thrown them over there after making heaps. Surreptitiously, and ensuring that no one was there in the garden, Malati too threw her share of flowers, that she had taken, into that same well.

The flowers were in no mood to feel the ignominy of being treated so shabbily then for they were all still immersed in the enchanting experience of the previous night.

The previous night, if two pairs were being absorbed and getting drenched in  their respective passions playing with the charms of floral fragrances, all the flowers, in turn, became magnetically fascinated while looking at those pairs and also while getting crushed under them.

The next morning, if those two pairs – A pair in the harem!! Another in the garden, out under open sky – were reminiscing about that sweet night, the flowers were recollecting their delightful deeds in the flower-well.

In the flower-well: The tired, drained and exasperated flowers, while adjusting themselves one over the other, were talking to one another.

The Mogalireku that was removed from queen’s plait saw and started asking in surprise Sampenga flower, which was used by Ramudu to titillate the neck of Malati.

“What happened? You were not seen since yesterday?”

“Ah! Malati has taken me away”, Sampenga replied sulkingly

Mogalireku’s surprise increased. Rather, it got flabbergasted.

“Oh! Is that true? Why don’t you tell, then? You are very fortunate…” Mogalireku replied wondrously with a hint of envy too.

Sampenga thought that Mogalireku was passing sarcasm at her.

“Hmm! Fortune. Huh! What were we planning yesterday? We were all thinking how to enjoy the night while observing the passionate sensuousness of Rayalu. What can I do? Fate played its part. I did not have it written on my head”, Sampenga spoke in a morose tone again while heaving a sigh of sadness. With that answer, it also deliberately sounded that she did not fall for the sarcasm initiated by Mogalireku.

“That is another matter.. But, do you know, Rayala vaaru was describing about Thota Ramudu’s captivating deeds only. He, in fact, complimented him a lot”, brushing aside Sampenga’s sadness, Mogalireku replied.

“Is it? Why?”

“When he was strolling in the garden in the evening, that pair has come into his eyes”

“Then, he should have got anger.. Why this accolade?”, cut short Sampenga.

Sampenga was becoming restive to get to know the reason for such a maverick reaction of Rayala varu.

“Just a minute. Let me tell fully. Why so much of restlessness? In fact, you should feel proud”, replied Mogalireku

“Stop your sarcasm. Tell what happened”, Sampenga asked wearily and vexingly too.

“Yesterday evening, what did Thota Ramudu do with Malati?”

“You tell. You only know better than me about the issues that happened in my presence..”, insinuatingly replied Sampenga.

“It seems, he lovingly adjusted the anklets of Malati with his hands”

“Yes..!?”

“While putting his head tenderly on her knees, he eulogized the paaraani[12]decoration on her feet”

“OK! So what??”

“He ran his finger along that paaraani”

“Aha!”

“He pulled her toes gently”

“Literally, yes”

“Finally, it seems, he kissed her on the underside of her feet?”

“Yes. So what???” Sampenga was becoming more impatient

“Rayala varu has seen all this..”

“These are all ordinary deeds of a very very common man. What is so great in it that the monarch should feel mesmerized? These are all very trivial and inconsequential events”, replied Sampenga without any emotions of wonder.

“Yes, precisely those trivial issues only made Rayala vaaru fall for them. do you know that?”, replied Mogalireku.

“Oh! so nice. Can Ramudu manage these many flower the way King did? Can he gift as much jewelry to Malati as is done by the king to queen? All those comforts and happiness can he provide? Can he make her the queen?”, mocked and derided Sampenga with a good spread of ridicules while rushing all those condescending questions at Mogalireku with a twisted mouth.

“I am coming there only. Don’t rush, and slip your tongue. Listen to me fully”

“Oh! Go ahead then” further complained Sampenga with a sardonic tone

“Exactly Rayalavaaru told all these things. But, with a different meaning. The happiness and joy, that all the riches cannot ensure, can be given by these day-to-day trivial slices of life. I could not unravel such a simple, yet ineffable truth. The loving relationships and happiness that lay behind these tidbits of life did I miss noticing and enjoying. Owing to the duty imposed by this crown for taking care of kingdom and its administration, I could not shower enough love and affection that are due to you. Over and above, all these days, I made you suffer by not visiting you even once. Please forgive me. – This is what and how Rayala vaaru has regretfully and remorsefully apologized to the queen”

“Ah!”, Sampenga got simply surprised.

“If poet Timmanna’s Paarijaataalu[13] have made me realize my mistake, Thotaramudu’s sensuous and pleasing charms have awakened the true lover in me. – This also is what is told by Rayala vaaru”, said Mogalireku

The genuineness in the tone of Mogalireku has finally convinced Sampenga that this was all true.

“Oh! truly how great is the heart of Rayala varu’s!”

“Not only kingdoms, he could, that’s why, win the hearts of even general public”, added Sampenga

All the flowers went into merriment while conveying their affirmation to this assertion.

***

He came into senses when laughs broke his almost unconscious state.

“Oh! What a wonderful story!! You wove it really beautifully”, ecstatically and excitedly exclaimed Rani

Sri Krishna remained deeply serious.

Even Thungabhadra, while listening to the story, too stayed calm and profound.

“OK! Let us leave, now”, said Rani while extending her hand

He started slowly sauntering away from river with his hand held in hers.

The fact that they were leaving, or may be because of some other desire on the part of the divine river, the flowing waters have gathered a rare hurriedness and rushed towards them. Breaking the shackles of profundity, they moved fast and engulfed their feet at once. The ardent desire and zeal could be seen in the swiftness of those waters. Then, it happened. It should only be seen to believe. Tungabhadra just could not control itself. It rose and spread its waves as never seen before!! Rani got worried. In that worry, she could not observe that Krishna was not at all worried. Waters abated very slowly while enjoying his touch. His touch has gloriously reminded the river of the wonderful feel that it used to enjoy whenever a king and his queen strolled on the banks of that river some five centuries ago.

It seems, Thungabhadra’s perennial patience bore fruit. Amen.

(End)

Venkata Ramesh_G
Translated by Goparaju Venkata Ramesh.
The Telugu original sarasohoodantam has been published on koumudi.net, March 2011.
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[1] Rayala vaaru/Rayala vaari – Colloquial way of showing respect to Sri Krishnadeva Rayalu when referring his name in conversations.

[2] Paarijaataapaharanam – A famous collection of poems written by one of the legendary poets Nandi Timmana, who is part of the magnificent 8 court poets of Sri Krishna Devarayalu, collectively known as Ashthadiggajam – The eight great poets

[3] A variety of Jasmines

[4] Another variety of Jasmines

[5] A variety of Orchids

[6] Screwpine flakes

[7] Lotuses

[8] Pagoda flowers

[9] Chrysanths

[10] Marigolds

[11] Sun-God

[12] Paaraani – Traditional smeared-decoration done on ladies’ feet using Turmeric mixed with chunam

[13] Paradise flowers