Saturday, May 23, 2009

'Saaram Illai', 'Egadesham', 'Virodham Illai' and 'Madhuram Koottiyal Kambli Thinnalam'

Author's Note: I was away traveling...and working!!! Hence the blog stagnated for a week. But we are back in business. Enjoy!!

'Saaram Illai' is Palagattan for 'It's OK'. This is a very, very Palagattan usage and is drawn from the Malayalam 'Saarow Illa', which also means 'It's OK or acceptable'. A variation of this Palagattan usage is 'Virodham Illai' which actually means 'It is not objectionable' or actually '(I) Have no objection'. The Tamizh usage for 'It's OK' is 'Parava Illai' and the one for 'Virodham Illai' is 'Ethirppu Illai'. In Malayalam, they even say 'Tharakedu Illa' which means 'the quality (tharam) is not bad'. Palagattans also use the phrase 'Tharakedu Illai' rather liberally.

Typical usages will be:

''Nalekki varata?''. ''Shall I come tomorrow?''. And the reply: ''Saraam illai''. ''It's OK''.
''Avaathu Kalayanathukku, vara mudiyathu''. ''I can't come to the wedding in their home (family).'' And the reponse: ''Virodham Illai''. ''It's OK''.
''Karudaam varathurken. Chaptupatheyla?''. ''I made some crackers (In India a.k.a Fryums). Did you taste them?''. And the reply: ''Ooah! Chapteney. Tharakedu illai ketteya?'' ''Yes, of course, I did. The quality ain't too bad''. This last example is a typical daughter-in-law:mother-in-law banter. It has huge contextual relevance.

'Madhuram Koottiyal Kambli Thinnalam' is Palagattan for a 'sugar-coated pill'. While it has a philosophical import, meaning the toughest utterances or events/decisions can be made easy or palatable by dealing tactfully with them. 'Madhuram' means sugar, 'kootiyal' means 'to add', 'kambli' means blanket and 'thinnalam' means to eat. But Palagattans often use this to advise young mothers on how to feed their infants medicines. In fact, there is a special Palagattan device for such occasions called a 'goghurnam' which is a small steel or silver or brass cup with a sharp triangular pout. The mother would add honey to a powdered dose of a medicine, hold the nostrils of the hapless child closed and then force the medicine down the child's throat. By a simple law of survival, the child would swallow the medicine along with a gulp of fresh air. This phrase, 'madhuram koottiyal kambli thinnnalam', is used by the mother-in-law, to force the young mother__who may be trying to avoid feed the child in such a gruesome manner.

Recent advances in medical science have, of course, spared such beleagured mothers (under pressure from their mothers-in-law) and their tortured children. So much so, when mean 'naathanaars' (sisters-in-law) of the young mothers go complaining or passing snide remarks on children not being looked after well when they are sick, the mothers-in-law are often heard saying 'saaram illai' or 'virodham illai'.

A different usage of 'saaram illai' is in a husband-wife, pillow-talk conversation. When there are guests at home and the children have to sleep in the parents room, the husband in a moment of arousal may nudge the wife. "Enna," she may moan. "What?" "Hmmmm, vaa,"he may plead, enticingly. "Come (let us make love)!" "Chi, kuttigal irrukka. Ocche padithunnelna, ezhundoodovaa". "The kids are here. They may wake up if you make noise". He may then, seductively, purr into her ears,"Saaram Illai. Vaa!" "It's OK. Come..." And she would, hopefully, indulge him.

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