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The dissipated fort that once guarded and protected the magnificent city, still stands proud at the heart of the modern day city of Tiruchirappalli. The fort walls may have been built-over, the city may have grown beyond its once magnificent walls, the history of the city that the walls withheld might have been re-written and retold more than once, but the stories it tells and creates every day has never stopped.
Those who come from Trichy, would have heard of the Main Guard Gate for sure. It is in a fact in itself the heart of the city with four centuries of history woven into its walls, sometimes quite literally as it has been renovated and redesigned by various kings of Pallavas, Cholas and Madurai Nayakas, each leaving their own subtle signatures all along the fort and into the city itself.
The fort includes some of the iconic places like Rani Mangammal Palace, which was used as durbar of Madurai Nayak when Trichy was their capital which now houses government offices and government museum; Clive’s hostel that once housed Robert Clive and his men when the city was made cantonment during the British era, now houses the hostel for young students of St. Joseph’s college; the busy streets beyond the gate surrounding the temple tank which is filled with shops and the Main Guard gate itself which stands proud and that which protected its walls and the city in some of the fiercest battles fought in its wake which includes the Carnatic war fought between Chandha Sahib and the British. The most iconic and famous place of all is the upper cave temple -Lalithankura Pallaveshwaram cave temple which is believed to be built by Mahendhra Varman I and lower cave temple also believed to be built by Narasimha Varman I Mamalla, which adorns the upper and lower part of the massive 3.8 billion year old rock formation, commonly known as the Rockfort.
It is an amazing thought indeed that the once the streets that saw the troops paraded on, now has commuters and shoppers ebbing with excitement and the quarters of the Clive’s hostel once held meetings planning the course of action for protecting the city walls and other military operations, now holds meetings planning the weekend plan of the students staying there.
As of today, the remains of the once magnificent fort and the city and the remnants of the fort walls itself carries stories of its past and victories: some cherished and some forgotten in time. The once proud walls that protected the city and roared cries of victories over the won battles, now reverberates with the roars of laughter shared by the commuters and shoppers and tell stories of the life that in itself portrays the very essence of the modern city of Tiruchirappalli.
You lifted me up and gave me wings and asked me to measure the sky and beyond.
You mended my wounds and told my scars were beautiful when I broke my wings.
You gave me strength and made me smile.
I’ve come so far from the shy little girl who hugged your legs.
I flew high and far and someday I might touch the stars or even the sun,
But I will always be your little girl.
Happy father’s day to the man who set impossibly high standards for how a man should treat the women in their lives.
First rain of the year. I got a whiff of the rain that is about to pour down even before it arrived. I was on my evening walk and I smelled the familiar scent of rain wetting the sun scorched land somewhere far away. So I hurried back home and waited for the first rain of the year with my customary cup of tea and something hot and crunchy to go with it. I sat there in my terrace listening to the rumbling of the clouds and flashes of lightning here and there. Just that little rumbling and the familiar scent of the rain faraway brought back many memories. So I watched the rain finally arrive, thinking of all those years that I have learned to love rain.
I remember those early mornings I used to wake up to the sudden drop in temperature and little water droplets running a race down my window.
I remember those early summer rains that ruined our plan for playing the whole day outside in the best way possible; now we get to make paper boats and conduct paper boat races of our own.
I remember the nights me, my sister and my parents huddled up in one blanket, jumping a foot every time a thunder clap and my dad telling us to recite the name of Arjuna (son of Indian god of thunder) so that he would protect us from the monsterous thunders and we dutifully reciting his name over and over again till his name turns into slurs and we no longer know what we are saying.
I remember school declaring holidays due to heavy rain so we rush back home with a sense of happiness that no Sundays can replace. Those only times watching news anxiously hoping that they would declare holiday the next day.
I remember running to terrace to pick up the clothes that are drying there, only to end up throwing the clothes in a filthy pile in a corner and dancing in the rain, jumping in tiny puddles on the floor. I also remember catching cold and my mom cursing that I never listen to her about anything and worrying that I might catch flu. But all that scolding and even the flu shots are worth it if we get to dance in the rain.
I remember driving up to the river after a big downpour to see if the river has filled up and the dam is full and feeling a familiar sense of happiness because a full dam means that this years harvest will be good.
As I sit there sipping tea and listening to the steady rhythm of rain now falling, I realise with a tiny pang of jealousy and heart full of pride that the same rain is now helping another little girl create a series of memories that she will one day learn to cherish, just the way I did.
“Pluviophile – Lover of rain. Someone who finds happiness and peace in rainy days.”
I slammed the door shut behind me. The cruel hot sun burning my skin to the roots. I have places to go, things to do. I got into my mind and started my journey to nowhere. I could feel the hot wind across my face burning my insides. The ride was doing nothing to help. I was driving over the dry vast sand lands, nothing in sight for what it seemed like a million miles. It felt forever on that bike, my mind racing over cruel nothings, not really concentrating on where i am going. There was an unnameable rage in my mind and heart, which made me rage at anything and everything. I know what I am doing, but these questions inside my head are doing nothing to help me realize what exactly is wrong with me. Suddenly I was brought back to reality when a shadow started to hover over me from behind a faraway mountain, shielding me from the cruel sun. I didn’t know how I got there, but something told me to go on and reach out to the cloud. As crazy it might seem, I actually wanted to reach out and grab that cloud, that protected me. I kept riding. the sun was slowly moving away from me and I could see the crescent moon raising in front of me. The cruel hotness is now a little warm, not a pleasant kind, but just plain warm. I finally reached the mountain. For some reason, I got curious to know what was beyond my eyes could reach. The day wearing off and night engulfing the surroundings around me, but the light of the cruel day was still lingering in the far beyond land that I just forsake. It was the last thing I saw before the last traces of the day light died out: The most beautiful sight. It left like the empty world was suddenly filled with things. there was an endless river that was flowing from the foot of the mountain. The trees on the banks of the river and continuing through out the endless range of mountains. the autumn sun has clearly dried the life out of the leaves which were clinging to their branches for their mere lives. I started declining the mountain, till i found a place where I could breathe in the whole scene. I found myself sitting on a rock under a tree, having escaped from the sun, shadowed by the tree all day, which made it cool and welcoming. The transformation the scene made within few minutes was incredible. The dried up leaves constantly rippling the moon’s reflection on the cool river, the river running hurriedly to a faraway land, the crescent moon coming down to the river to fish. Each passing minute, each element of the scene….. I forgot what I was mad about. The rage and the hotness inside me felt like a million years ways. The scene: the dried up leaves finally engulfing their end, the river embracing the leaves’s final moments, the moon shedding its shadow and getting brighter every passing minute, the cool breeze encasing me into surrounding. When I was looking at everything it wasn’t my eyes which is looking at it anymore. It was like my heart, my mind and my body is one and it understood everything going on around me and I finally realise the truth about life. In this dark night, a feeble moonlit ever flowing river, I found what I was looking for and most importantly found myself and I am finally Home.
Home is not a place, it is a feeling.