Sunday, May 31, 2015

Krishnar Thaalattu (Krishna's lullaby)

Summer holidays were spent in the confines of our ancestral home at Pudukkotai, Tamil Nadu in the presence of many elders - paati (grandmother), athai paati (mother's aunt), thatha (grandfather), many mannis (aunts) and mamas (uncles).  There was an earthly charm in doing some of the mundane things as kids.  For us, they were anything but mundane.  Playing under the sun in a nearby maidaan (grounds) in soaring Tamil Nadu heat is no joke.  Our bodies would be dripped in sweat, and we would be coaxed by the elders to come back home for a break.

"Ennada, ippadi thoppala nenanjundu vandhurkel," they would say. (You guys are absolutely soaked).

"Go wash your hands and feet, or why don't you take a shower".  Taking a shower was pointless, because after a mini break of having lunch, we would head out again.  In a matter of minutes, we would again be soaking.

Being the eldest in the family, I was supposed to have responsibility.  My partner in crime was my cousin, who is just a year younger than me.  We would have our fights, plan our mischiefs together and figure out how to stay away from home from the prying eyes of the elders.  And then, slowly, every year, the members of the young troupe increased one by one.  In a joint family, with a collection of elders and young ones, there is never a shortage of fun and frolic.

The houses those days were very different from homes of today.  It was a long stretch from the front courtyard to the backyard with a number of rooms.  Our atthai paati occupied the oonjal (swing) at the center of the living area.  It was a long wooden plank, and whenever I go back to the days of my atthai paati, I can only imagine her occupying the position on the swing with kids on either side, and singing the lullabies for the kids.  With her loud, clear, crisp voice, she would sing,

Gopala Krishna Swamy Gokulathiley, Kuzhandayi roopam kondu vilaiyaadinar...

All of us were lulled into sleep thanks to the Krishna lullabies.  She had a whole collection of them, but the one that sticks in my memory is the one I mentioned above.

She would get up at four or five in the morning, when the youngest member of the household wakes up, render all the lullabies for about two to three hours.

Generations of kids have been soothed to sleep, thanks to the way it has been passed from elders in the family.

Now that my mother is here to take care of her grandson for a few months, she sings these lullabies to my son.  It gives me a chance to happily relive those glorious days of time spent in the summer.

I told my mother, "Everything is available on Youtube.  Let me Google it and bring it to you.  And you will see that this song would be renditioned in many different versions."

As I Googled, I was super surprised to see that there was not a single audio or video of the song.  In fact, there were a lot of people who had requested this song.

My mother also mentioned about Ananthamkaatu kummi, a collection of songs that were transferred to her by her atthai.

"I have the book at home, back in India, with all the lyrics", she said.

In an era when we try to digitize and preserve as much information as we can, it is surprising that some of the classic old lullabies that have been passed several generations down may be lost forever.  So, I told my mother, "Let's have your rendition of the lullaby uploaded to youtube.  At least, there will be some folks grateful for it."

These songs are true masterpieces that definitely deserve a wider audience.  That way, we will have a chance to sing these lullabies to the next generation of kids.  These classics deserve to be preserved.

Lyrics (in Tamil) - தமிழ் 
கோபால கிருஷ்ண ஸ்வாமி கோகுலத்திலே
குழந்தைரூபமாய் வந்து விளையாடினார்
ஆசனதீயிலே முத்து தொங்கவே
வாசுவகபிலஸ்தலம் மார்பில் அசைய

கஸ்தூரி திலகம் நெற்றியிலிட்டு யசோதை
கனகமுத்து கொண்டை சவைசூடினால்
முத்து மாலை சாற்றிய தோள்வளையிட்டு யசோதை
பத்திரமாய் தங்கத்தினால் அரைநால்லிட்டாள்

கிண்கிணி அரைநிறைய தங்கக்கட்டியே யசோதை
தங்கவளை கையிலிட்டு மோதிரமிட்டாள்
காலுக்கு தண்டையிட்டு காதிரெண்டிலும்
மகரகுண்டலமாசய கண்ணுக்கு மையிட்டாள்

யசோதை இடுப்பில் வெச்சு வெளியில் நிக்கவே
இறங்கி ஸ்வாமி ஓடினார் விளையாட
தன்னோடத்த குமாரரும் தானும் சேர்ந்து
ஜலக்கரை உள்ளே மட்டும் எங்கும் ஓடினார்

பிடிக்கப்போனவர் கையில் அகப்படாமலே
கூர்ந்து கிரஹம் தோறும் விளையாடினார்
தங்கநிறவட்டில்நிறை வெண்ணெய் சேர்த்து
தங்கமே பாலகிருஷ்ணா வெண்ணெய்வாரீரோ

எனக்கும்  ரெண்டு குழந்தைக்கும் மரப்பாச்சிக்கும்
அதுக்கும்கூட வெண்ணெய் தந்தாள் உண்ணுவேனென்றார்
மரப்பாச்சி வெண்ணையை உண்ணுமோ கிருஷ்ணா..
பெருத்தவாயாலே வெண்ணையை முழுங்ககண்டாள்

உறுதினத்தில் பகவான் கிருஷ்ண ஸ்வாமி
ஒரு ஜாமம் விடியவே எழுந்திருந்தார்
அப்போது நந்த கோபி எழுந்திருந்து
ஆங்கள்தோறும் மெழுகி கோலமுமிட்டாள்

கனத்ததொரு தாழிவைத்து தயிரைகொட்டி
கிருஷ்ணாவை பாடிக்கொண்டு தயிர் கடைந்தாள்
காலை மெல்ல தூக்கிவெச்சு இருட்டுவேளையில்
கிட்டேவந்து வாயாலூதி விளக்கணைத்தார்

தாழியிலே கையைப்போட்டு வாரிவிழுங்கவே
பூனைக்கு கொஞ்சமும்போட்டு தானும் உண்ணவே
மோரிலுள்ள வெண்ணையெல்லாம் வாரிவிழுங்கவே
மூச்சுவிடும் ஓசையை கண்ட கோபி

என்னடா பாலகிருஷ்ணா என்ன விந்தை
உன்னுடைய அம்மாகிட்டே சொல்லுவேனென்றாள்
உன்னுடைய அம்மாகிட்டே சொல்லுவேனென்றாள்
உருகி பயந்தவர் போலே நடந்தார்

கன்றுக்குட்டி கிட்ட போய் கதவை திறந்து
கன்றுபசுக்களெல்லாம் ஊட்டவேவிட்டார்
கறக்கயில பாலும்போச்சு தாயிரும்போச்சு
குழப்பயில மோரூம்போச்சு வெண்ணையும்போச்சு
அச்சுதானந்த கிரஹத்தைவிட்டு வெளியில்
நீ உச்சிதமாய் சொல்லும் குழல் ஊதி நடந்தார்

Gopala Krishnaswamy Gokulaththiley
Kuzhandhairoobamai vandhu vilaiyadinaar
Aasanatheeyiley Muththu Thongavey
Vasuvakabilasthalam maarbil asaya

Kasthuri thilakam nettriyilittu yasodhai
Kanakamuththu kondai suvaisoodinaal
Muththumaalai saatriya tholvalaiyittu yasodhai
paththiramai thangaththinaal arainaalittaal

Kinkini arannirayya thankgakattiye yasodhai
thangavalai kaiyilittu modhiramittaal
kaalukku thandaiyittu kaathirendilum
Makarakundalamaasaya kannukku maiyittaal

Yasodhai iduppil vechchu veliyil nikkave
irangi swamyodinaar vilaiyaada
Thannodaththa kumararum thaanumserndhu
Jalakkarai ullemattum engum odinaar

pidikkapponavar kaiyil agappadaamaley
Koorndhu graham thorum vilaiyaadinaar
Thanganiravattilnirai vennai serndhu
Thangame Balakrishna vennaivaariro

Enakkum rendu kuzhandhaikkum marapachikkum
Adhukkumkoodai vennai thandhal unnuvaynendrar
Marappaachi vennaiyai unnumo Krishna..
Peruththvayale Vennaiyai muzhungakandaal

Urudhinaththil Bhagavan Krishna Swamy
Our jaamam vidiyavay ezhundhirundhaar
Appodhu Nanda Gopi Ezhundhirundhu
Aangalthorum mezhugi Kolamumittal

Ganaththoru thanzhivaiththu thayiraikotti
Krishnavai paatikkondu thayir kadaindhaal
Kaalai mella thookkivaichchu iruttuvelaiyil
Kittayvandhu vaayaludhi vilakkanaithaar

Thazhiyilay kaiyaipottu vaarivizhungave
Poonaikku Konjamumpottu thaanum unnave
Morilulla vennaiyellam vaarivizhungave
Moochchuvittum osaiyai kanda Gopi

Enaada Balakrishna enna vidhdhai
Unnudaiya ammakitte solluvenendraal
Unnudaya ammakittey solluvenendraal
Urugi bayandhavarpolay nadandhaar

Kanrukuttikittapoi  kadhavai thirandhu
Kandrupasukkalellaam oottavevittaar
Karakkayil paalumpochchu thayirumpochchu
Kuzhappayil morumpochchu vennaiyumpochchu
Acchudhanandha grahaththayvittu veliyil
Nee uchchithamai sollum kuzhaloodhi nadandhaar

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The overwhelming moment

The fascinating aspect of life is probably the first moment of life.  That instant of birth is probably the perfect example of intersection of science and Godliness.  There is something miraculous about the whole thing.  It's certainly inexplicable.

He was supposed to have arrived four days ago.  At the beginning, we waited with expectation, which slowly transformed to patience and boredom.  We wanted him the very next instant.  Anyway, after all the anticipation and drama, he arrived the next day, with a splash and a wail.  To call that moment the most overwhelming moment of my life would be a gross understatement.

With as much information of pregnancy classes loaded into our heads as possible, we were thrown into the complex world of parenting.  Theory and practice are two different beasts.  I had found that out in my Engineering days and the real world scenario was no different.  So, on the first evening, at the hospital, my wife and I were gaping at him with a feeling of awe and fright.

The first night, all alone, with the little one, we had our self doubts.  The duty nurse walked in.  "Guys, do you want to place him in the nursery?"

My wife and I looked at each other.  We had discussed this scenario a million times before.  We were sure of what we had to do.  Yet, we were confused.

"OK", I said.  "No", my wife said.

"We'll see how things go tonight", my wife said.

Obviously, you will have no doubts as to whose decision prevailed.

So, ten minutes into that decision, everything went well as planned.

He was fed, his diaper had been changed and we thought that we were covered for the next three hours at least.  And then, out of the blue, he let out a cry.  It was not a quiet sob.  It was a piercing wail that could bring the entire ward down.

We looked at each other as though babies were just expected to be quiet.  It's very easy when sitting in a class as to what to do.

"What do I do now?", I asked my wife.

"What did we learn during the birthing classes? Let's just follow the instructions", my wife replied.

"What instructions", I wondered. I mean, I went blank.  All that I could hear was a high decibel wail piercing through my ears.  I was totally nonplussed to react.  Like I said earlier, theory and practice are totally different.

"Let me hand him over to you.  It'll be good for him to get skin to skin contact", I said.  I had to say something meaningful.

Nothing helped.  The cries did not subside.

"OK, OK.  Call the nurse.  Press the red button", I said confidently.  Calling the nurse was probably the only thing I was confident about.  That should have been the last option.  But for me, I thought that we had already reached the last option.

The nurse walked in.  She had such a confident demeanor as though she knew exactly what she was doing.  She held him for a few seconds.  She asked us a couple of questions about his feeding and diaper change.  We answered, rather less confidently.  At that point, we were not confident about anything.  If somebody had asked us what one plus one was, we might have hesitated to answer two.  Such was our state; so unsure of anything.

The nurse was smart enough to understand.  She smiled at us and said, "It's probably the diaper."

She quickly undid his diaper, and lo and behold, he had a wet diaper.  We heaved a sigh of relief.

My wife and I quickly said the same thing "Please take him to the nursery." We'll catch up as much sleep as possible at least as long as we are in the hospital.