In roudra varusham, in the month of Chittirai, my father, Iyer and others returned home. After the end of the war, they were free to come home. My father stayed on until Iyer was free to come to British India. But for Aravindar, the rest of them had left Puduvai.
Soon after, the Puduvai mUvar (Bharathi, Iyer and my father) started living in the same place again--Chennai. Bharathi worked at svadESa Mitran and Iyer at dESa Bhaktan. My father went back to his old business.
At the end of the month of aippasi, I had gone to Chennai from Mysore. Chellamma and Bhagyalakshmi Ammal came to see me. The Iyers lived in George Town then, I think. Bharathi and Chellamma lived in TiruvallikkENi in TuLasingap perumAL Koil street. We lived in PEyAzhvAr kOil street, facing the mantapam in front of Parthasarathy Swamy temple.
Bharathiyar was home only from seven to nine in the morning. Then, he left for work. He came home during the break, occasionally.
Hindi prachAr (propogation of Hindi) had started just then. Devadas Gandhi taught Hindi and national songs in our upstairs hall.
When seeing little babies saying 'Ao, Ao, Ao', BharathiAr had a habit of singing to them, 'AO sakala bhArath kumAr!' (Come, little son of all India!). "The little ones are saying, 'come, let's all be one!', but we foolish adults don't pay any attention to it!"
The political scene then was tense. The Ali bothers, on their way to Chennai were arrested. Their mother was a brave woman. She spoke at the beach meeting. At the end of it when people were starting to disperse, Bharathi got on stage and sang 'jaya bErigai koTTaDA, koTTaDA!' and the crowds came back in throngs. They loved to hear Bharathi's songs and his speeches. His voice and his verses charmed them all. That day, he sang the verses, interspersing them with the sounds of the drums (bERigai ), with his own voice!
When I was in Chennai, Bharathi overheard my saying, "Both children that I have are daughters and the one son I had, is no more". He chided me. "Daughters are more affectionate than sons, Yadugiri. You were a little child when you were in Puduvai. You still are the same in your affection for me. Your brother Sami is too occupied with family affairs. He does not find time to come and see me, as you still do".
I was in Chennai until ugAdi. Bharathi came to our house almost every day. Chellamma, Thangamma and Sakunthala came to see us often.
On the day I left for Bangalore that month, Bharathi came by in the morning. "Chellamma said it was an inappropriate day for a shave. So, I came to your house," he said and got shaven in the front of our house .
Bharathi came again that evening. I did namaskArams to him and asked him when he would come to visit us in Bangalore.
Bharathi: What business do I have in Bangalore, Amma? Have a good journey and be well. The next time you come to Chennai, I don't know where I'm going to be. That was why I came to see you again.
That was the last time I saw him.
I was in Mysore. My mother wrote to me that Bharathiar was no more. I could not believe it. Soon, my father wrote a long letter, giving me all the details.
It was the misfortune of tamizh nADu that Bharathi died, and that too, in his prime.
In 1923, I was back in Chennai. Chellamma, Thangamma and Sakunthala came to see me. It was a sad moment.
Chellamma: He asked about you even on the day that he passed away. "Where is Yadugiri now? How many children has she?". "Two girls, like us," I answered.
"I don't know when she will come to Chennai. I miss seeing her. Wherever she is, let her be happy," he said. "Chellamma, finish cooking by eight in the morning. I have to go to the office early," he said. He died soon after. What could I do? It all seems like a play, this life of ours!"
After so many years of our struggle for freedom, we are now free--because of great patriots like Tillakar, Bharathi, Chidambaram Pillai and V.V.S. Iyer. They laid the foundation for the freedom which we enjoy.
Bharathi was inspired by some unknown force. When he sang, poetry flooded out of him .There were times when he was surprised with some of his own lines of poetry. He didn't go in search of words, style, grammar or rhyme. He was a vara kavi (born with a boon-poet).
Bharathi had the habit of asking himself questions. I used to be surprised by this."Whom did you speak to at the beach?"--I'd ask. He would laugh and say, 'with parAsakti, with the sea!" I did not know the impact of it then. I realize now that to be a great poet, to develop one's sensibilities to that extent, one should do penance of a very high order. Bharathi was a living example of such a poet. Poets like him are born only once in a few centuries. Lucky indeed are the nations which produce such great souls!
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The translator's note:
I reluctantly take leave of the company of Bharathi, Chellamma, Yadugiri, Iyer and their families. It was an inspiring (and perspiring!) summer for me to journey back with them into the past. If only a few young men and women have been reading this and have started discovering 'their' Bharathi, I'd be delighted. Bharathi's works have universal appeal, but for every Indian, particularly a tamizhan, he is a national treasure which we all own--which we can keep and also share endlessly.
Bharathi sought immortality and he got it. He lives forever in his poetry and his other works.There is immense value and beauty in his verses which are guaranteed to appeal to humanity until the end of the world.
We are stepping into September, the month of Bharathi Day. I am glad I finished the translation well before that special day (as I promised) and now want to go back to his poetry which will feed me with inspiration and offer me renewal, as it always does. No, I revise my statement: go back to his poetry, so that all of us get inspired and are ready for renewal!
We have many performers who are members on Rasikas.org. Those who are not, visit our forum to browse. If they include many Bharathi's songs in their repertoire, kudos to them all. Those who don't--please consider singing his songs, as joyfully as he did
I thank Yadugiri's daughter Dwaraki Krishnaswamy for lending me, and letting me make a copy of her mother's book.
Thanks to those who have been reading this translation and also for their patience when I took a break . Special thanks to friends on the forum who have always been extremely kind to the old lady.
I thank srkris for making this thread a sticky to ensure that it didn't sink to the bottom of the page and disappear. Due to that, many more rasikAs have had a chance to read it.
For those of us who already adore, admire and worship Bharathi, it was good to hear Yadugiri tell her story about him. I hope she inspires the young just as much, so that they can pass on their love for Bharathi to their children and they to theirs and so it goes on and on--Bharathi's immortality is ensured that way.
Thanks again, all!