(Original poem by Bharathiyar)

Why build an exquisite veena1,
Only to be heedlessly cast-off into dust?
Tell me O! Sivasakthi2
You, (who) created me with a scintillating mind
Grant me fortitude
To devote my life in welfare of this State
Tell me O! Sivasakthi – Would you let me
Become a burden to this land?

Travail I

In the land of timelessness, atop tall spindly hills,
Lived the unhappy queen with a porous heart
A heart that retained no mirth, nor lingering happiness;

It is rumored, she was human once,
That she lived like any other modern woman –
Family, career and all
It is said that she ran away from all this,
‘Cause, she suffered from terrible sins.

Queen of trees
Queen of Trees / Illustration by Lekha Murali/created on Sketchpad-IO

Redemption V

Her feet divided and multiplied into infinite tentacles,
That slithered and writhed
Grew longer and longer,
Until they found their grip
As they entrenched the rich, brown earth.

Her hands splintered into copious branches.

Unhappy Queen
Unhappy Queen with Porous Heart / Illustration by Lekha Murali

Redemption IV

Each time the wind brought,
The languished cry of an abandoned child
She broke off a tormented sliver from her brittle heart,
Offered it to the gods and prayed the child be rescued.

The gods in their heavens, heard her woeful pleas,

Redemption III

The spin-top tree sighed and fell silent.
He delved into his oceanic mind
After a day and night of deep deliberation,
He finally spoke
In a voice, soothing as caress,

‘My dear queen,’ he said softly,
‘As sad as your story is,
As genuine the need for answers
It’s hard to know what happened eons ago,
For it has been that long since you arrived in our tiny world.

Redemption II

Affected by his warmth,
She opened her heart
Laid her burdens at his paternal feet

She spoke of her brutal callousness,
Of a mother’s selfish heart,
Of her arduous journey
Of the thousand deaths her flesh endured
About her heart that became porous and brittle,
As she returned to the folds of humanity.

spin-top tree
The spin-top tree/illustration by Lekha Murali

Redemption I

The spin-top tree –
The wisest of trees
That bore perfectly spherical flowers
That was also its fruit.

As timeless as the hills that bore him
He stood on his roots,
On the banks of the whispering brook
Like a solitary hermit on his lonely leg –

Aggrievance IV

She flew away from all that she knew;
She ran far and wide
Frantically querying about a young maiden
With the most melancholy of face,
The one who could not smile, nor utter a single word.

When humans would not help,
She implored the Sun, pleaded with the Wind
Besought the elements,
That made up the universe –

Aggrievance III

In the years that passed,
The young girl’s smile disappeared
Then her words vanished,
Till she became barely perceptible,
Until one day she was to be found nowhere.

At first she shrugged it away.
      ‘Where could she have gone?’ she muttered.
      ‘Who would take in that useless, ingrate?’
She raised a haughty eyebrow,