MY LORD, your brother’s

lovesickness is becoming

impossible: ever since he saw

Valli, at the archery contest,

he’s being most unreasonable.

He refuses food, then says

he’s hungry and wants to go

pick figs on her hill.

He claims hot water’s making

him weak and wakes at dawn

to go bathe in the hill stream.

And now he wants grass mats,

no doubt woven with grass

from her hill, because


‘soft mattresses are bad

for a warrior’s body.’


My Lord, your brother’s

lovesickness is becoming

impossible. It’s days since

he came to the poets’ assembly

and you know it’s the spring

festival and poets have come

from all over, with a whole

year’s worth of poems they

have waited to have him

read and approve.

And all he says is,

‘I can’t bear poetry now:

tell them to come back next year.’


My Lord, your brother’s

lovesickness is becoming

impossible. Three days ago,

he screamed at the rooster

for breaking a dream in

which, following her eyes,

he was just about to see

what she was looking at.

What am I to say

to your mother when

she asks why no one’s

waking on time: the rooster

you see, flew off in a huff

and hasn’t been seen since.


My Lord, your brother’s

lovesickness is becoming

impossible. He’s forgetting

everything — yesterday,

he came up so close to me,

I could see the emerald and

gold of my feathers in his

eyes, but he just stood there,

his eyes a swirl of colours,

and it took me a moment to

realise he could not recall

my name or what it was he

had wanted me for.


My Lord, your apathy

is becoming unforgivable.

Are your elephant ears

not privy to all the world’s

secrets? Do you not know

what Valli is thinking?

Will she not return our

Kumaran’s love?

My Lord, can’t you go

and tell her that

your brother, Lord of

Pazhamudircholai — and

of this peacock driven

mad by his antics — is

waiting on her, for a

look, a word?

You’ll make a better

messenger than I, for while

I’m a silly bird, you possess

the gravitas of an elephant.

— Illustration © Namaah K for Firstpost

— Excerpted with permission from Offer Him All Things, Charred, Burned & Cindered published by Context, September 2018

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Sampurna Chattarji's Ghatkopar to Versova and Back

Karthika Naïr's Line 1