I wanted to write a long piece about the parallels I drew to my life from the experience I had on 15th with Ainthinai at Akkarai. I wanted the “title” of the piece to be “Red Earth”. I’ve fallen completely in love with the red soil and how it feels when it’s wet, as is the ‘mother soil’ with roots growing into and through it. I love how I left the nursery with my palms and soles stained in that same earthy brown (I didn’t want to wash it off at all!).
It made me think of a song I had stumbled upon quite recently ( Yayum Yayum- Sikkil Gurucharan and Anil Srinivasan (https://mio.to/album/Sikkil+C.+Gurucharan/Madhirakshi+%282006%29 )).
The song itself is a classical Tamizh poem set to music. The poem is Yaayum (ng)yaayum, from Kurunthogai and the lyrics -“யாயும் ஞாயும் யாராகியரோ,
எந்தையும் நுந்தையும் எம்முறைக் கேளிர்,
யானும் நீயும் எவ்வழியறிதும்,
செம்புலப் பெயனீர் போல,
அன்புடை நெஞ்சம்தா ங்கலந்தனவே.
-செம்புலப் பெயனீரார்” (-wikipedia)
-(I did have to read the translation) contain some sublime imagery…below, is a superb translation of those four lines that a listener (Unnikrishnan R) had left in the comments section of the song on Youtube- ” What could my mother be to yours? What kin is my father to yours anyway? And how did you and I ever meet? But in love our hearts are like red earth and rain, mingled beyond parting”.
It’s interesting to note here that the poet is named “செம்புலப் பெயனீரார் ” after two beautiful words from these lines he has penned…nobody knows his real name.
When I first read these lines, it blew my mind and has stayed with me since then…and when(15th) I took my first ever sapling from the ‘mother soil’, these are the lines I was reminded of. Like red earth and the rain. I hadn’t thought I’d experience something that the poem could be equated to. But well, this was it.
The interesting bit is, I had to “google” the poem now to find the lyrics, and I find the poem and its translation in a blog called “Sangam Tamil literature in English”, and the creator of the blog writes- “Lets see the beautiful kurinji thinai poem from kurunthogai…”
Now that, was just surprising! Kurinji thinai?? I remembered looking at the Ainthinai badge and wondering what thinai meant because it had 5 names – Kurinji, Mullai, Marudham, Neythal, and Paalai; of which I only knew that the first two were flowers, so I simply assumed (in complete ignorance) that it had something to do with 5 flowers that meant something to the founders of the group…I did mean to look it up “later”. But now that I saw “kurinji thinai” mentioned, I had to find out what thinai was. For those who don’t know much Tamizh (like me) and other curious folk, do do read this!- https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinai it generally tells you what it is and following citation number 4 leads to this well-written research paper on tiNaipoetics for a better understanding – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320958189_Tinaipoetics_An_Ecopoetics_of_South_India
And so, I’m beginning to discover what “ainthinai” really means quite serendipitiously…it’d be really nice if the person(s) who came up with this name for this wing of CTC can tell me about their thought process behind the naming…it’s beautiful!
Going back to the lines of the poem, I believe that it doesn’t necessarily have to be about romantic love…it does go beyond definitions and limitations by the sheer magic of its words…what does it matter that we aren’t related to each other by familiar bonds ? When we take that small step to give shape to a tiny seed of an idea in our minds, we find that love like that of red earth and rain, mingled beyond parting.This love could be that of strangers(then) who arrange for us to get a ride early in the morning, the kindness of the people you’ve never met before who give you a ride and make it amazing too! The love that courses through our actions, the love that goes into pouring soil into tiny bags, the love that connects us to the rest of Nature and the love that connects us to us. The love that finds fullest expression in the innocence of children. It’s subtle and needs no explanation. It transcends all boundaries that may have clouded our vision over time. Our lives are entangled in so many ways, constantly in flux and crossing paths, and beyond the layers that make us individuals, is the same energy. All of us have beautiful minds buzzing with so many ideas for a better world, but all those layers of self-doubt, hesitation, laziness and a tiny lack of motivation pile up and seem to keep us from being truly alive, and finding meaning in our lives. So step out of those comfort zones we slip into easily and breathe some life into your ideas. I see the difference a community of people can make. So what I’ve got from my first few hours with Ainthinai is that I’ve met some some great humans (somehow, I feel like I’ve known them a long time), gained a bit of awareness of plant life that I’ve not been very connected to thus far, and a feeling that I’ve stumbled onto something precious both in a tangible and intangible way.
A big shout out to the organizers, especially Mohan anna and Ajay anna, who helped big time with the logistics aspect, Rajesh anna and the (obviously) equally amazing others (extremely sorry! 🙁 will learn your names soon!) who taught us with clarity from scratch, from making the potting mix, the reason for the use of each ingredient of the mix; from the bit where we first examine if each bag has holes, to making sure we fill the bags up quite well. I understand that everything is a collective effort, so thaaank you, Ainthinai! Also, a biiiig thank you to Siva sir, Sharadha kutti, Parthasarathy sir, Ramya ma’am and Meera kutti for having taken me along and also for having given me so much to think about. All of us had a fantastic time! And great pongal too, which actually was delicious and was nothing short of admirable, for I don’t think anybody really has had any experience with making pongal in an maNpaanai before 🙂