Sunday, May 10, 2009

'Asugam', 'Sookherdu', 'Degha-ubadhruvam', 'Pani'....all Palagattan ailing states!

When a Palagattan has fever, he/she has 'pani'. 'Pani' (pronounced like half the word in 'pani-ni') actually means 'dew' in Tamizh and when pronounced with an exaggerated 'n', means 'work' in Malayalam. But Palagattans attribute most common fevers to come from expsoure to early morning dew. And so, they generalize and say, someone has 'pani' when that someone is beginning to run a higher temperature. Some Palagattans also call fever 'joram'. However, no Palagattan, ever will use the Tamizh word 'kaachal' to describe a feverish state.

When sick, Palagattans have 'asugam'. Which literally means unwell in English--'sugam' in Malayalam means 'doing well', so, 'a-sugam' means 'unwell'. But it must be understood that 'asugam' pertains to a non-so-serious state of ailment. Like a common cold ('jaladosham' or 'cheerappu'-discussed in an earlier post) or a viral fever. The Tamizh usage will be 'odambukku vandurkku' or 'odambu seriya illai' both implying an not-so-serious ailment.

A continued state of 'asugam', diagnosed further as a disease like malaria, typhoid or asthma, is referred to as 'sookherdu' (pronounced 'sookedu'). The other usage of 'sookherdu' is when someone in the family or circle of influence dissents on a decision or shows abnormal tendencies of loony behavior. In such cases, 'sookherdu' refers to 'discomfort' or 'what's wrong with (that person)?'. In Tamizh, we will understand a person's diseased state as 'noi'.

Senior Palagattans, often times purists, use the word 'degha-ubadhruvam' to describe the condition of their health/bodies. 'Degham' in Malayalam means body and 'ubadhruvam' in Malayalam means trouble. Palagattans who are fit as a fiddle even after they are well past their 70s can be heard using this word to affirm that their bodies are not troubling them at all. Alas, there is no Tamizh equivalent that this author can immediately think off for this rare, Palagattan gem!

Typical usages of these words/expressions:

'Pani': "Aye! Avanai paduthathey. Pani akkum!" "Hey, don't disturb him. He's got fever."
'Asugam': "Avanodu asugam marave mattengarthu" "He continues to ail." though literally it would be "His ailment doesn't seem to change (sic!-go away!!)".
'Sookherdu': "Enna kandravi sookherdo theriayallai" "Can't diagnose what his goddammed disease is all about!"
'Sookherdu': In the other context, discussed above, Palagattans would say: "Avannukku oru sookherdu undu kettiya? Poramai akkum". "He has a problem. He's jealous".
'Degha-ubadhruvam': "Deivanugraham irrukkarthunaala ennakku degha-ubadhruvam onnum illai!!" "By God's grace my body doesn't trouble me (at all)!".

Here's wishing all Palagattans good health so that 'pani', 'asugam', 'sookherdu' and 'degha-ubadhruvam' are expunged from their lives and just remain academic terms on this blog!!!

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