Who is Kanthan’s wife? This question came to my mind when I first listened to the Masala Coffee version of a folk song called “Kantha njanum Varaam Thrissur Pooram kaanaan..”.
The song is in the form of a series of requests (Is it really a request? That’s the question!) from a girl to her husband (Kanthan, a Malayalam synonym for ‘husband’) to take her to the famous Thrissur Pooram. Or it can even be looked upon as a song which talks about a girl’s extreme desire to go and see Pooram. Through the lyrics of the song, we get to know how she expresses her wish to her husband. Just like any other folk song , the lyrics go simple – constantly repeating the same words which adds an ounce more simplicity to the song. She goes on listing out what she wants to do when she is being taken to her much awaited trip to see Pooram . If you think her desires are limited to buy bangles, sindhoor or kajal you are mistaken! Here comes the feisty spirit of Kanthan’s wife! Don’t underestimate her. She is different! She makes her voice heard!
The song begins by addressing Kanthan and telling him she is also going to see Thrissur Pooram with him. She doesn’t ask; she says “ Njanum varaam” (I will also come). Isn’t that so contrary to the concept of a mild and shy woman living in a male dominated society of yesteryears? Then she gives her reasoning one by one. And one wonders why Kanthan is so quiet! His voice is not even heard once in the song! Is he pondering over reasons to wash off her adventurous spirit? Or is he too awed to speak?
She starts her list by saying that she wants to see the instrument thimila, a percussion instrument in the Panchavadhyam -the temple orchestra. Don’t think that our lady will be happy just with the sight of a thimila; she wants to play the thimila too. Then she jumps to the next instrument and expresses her yearning to see it first and then to try using her skills in playing it. Kanthan still remains quiet! Awestruck? Dazed? I am sure he has all reasons to be happy to have a wife whose heart fans the flames of a knightly gest! And she dares to speak about it to him!
The ending of the song is the most exhilarating one with Kanthan’s wife stating her wish to see the famous Pooram fireworks followed by her desire to light one of the firecrackers. Her spirit cannot be tamed, guys! Seize the moment, Carpe diem! She does not believe in being trapped inside the four walls.
And did you notice the manner in which she lists out her desires to her husband? She talks about the simplest wish first – her wish to see; then takes it to the further level of being an integral part of it- be it playing the instrument or lighting up the firework. And each wish is followed by her sweet way of calling him ‘Kantha’. Can Kanthan say ‘No’ to such innocent and ‘uncomplicated’ requests?
The repetition of ‘Kanthaa’ gives her an image of a soft spoken and domesticated wife who is totally dependent on her husband. Concealed inside this image, is her free spirit -the bashful bride turning into a daredevil by the end of the song. If you notice the rhythm of the song, it begins at a slow pace with a slow increase in its pace as her wishes go each level up. And she does not implore , she does not plead. She is clear with what she wants and she expresses it without any reticence! Isn’t she simply superb? Someone who wants to go with what her heart yearns for. Isn’t that the hyped up idea of 21st century ? And Kanthan’s wife believed in it centuries back! Salute her!
What was Kanthan’s decision? Did he too share his wife’s youthful bravado? Could he take her to the Pooram and fulfil her wishes (the last one does not sound easy to me!) ignoring many raised eyebrows from his family? I am curious…..