Thursday, June 14, 2007

Poyal oru vakku, kittiyal oru mala

Uh? What? Let me explain to those who came in late, or, clarify for the uninitiated Mallus who haven’t bothered to keep in touch with their richly endowed native state’s customs.

Malayalam is filled with engaging aphorisms, such as this one for instance. My mater tongue is full of the most expressive idioms and aphorisms that can say much more than a thousand, um, no, hundred words.

The gist of the above needs some explanation. I was thinking of it on the ride to work and noted it in my leather-bound pocket notebook where I note all fleeting thoughts that later transform into blogposts such as this one. I am such a filter when it comes to thoughts that unless I write it down I lose it.

Poyal oru vakku, kittiyal oru mala

Here’s the story: A man in yonder Mallu lands badly wanted a mountain on which he wanted to build a house and cultivate some crops. The owner of the mountain lived on another big mountain nearby. (The very word “Malayali” apparently means “people who live on mountains.” So there!) He knew if he asked for it he might get the mountain to cultivate, as the owner didn’t take much interest in this patch of greenery.

So he asked his wife. Wives (even mine) are known to be repositories of such sayings in the land of the swaying palm fronds. Now we come to the most important part. She says, the above aphorism which means:

“What is there in asking? If he doesn’t give it’s just a sentence (that you said) that’s lost. If you get it you get a mountain.”

Clear?



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