For the fourteen-year-old unmarried Kalyani, the festival of Bhogi assumes a brutal literal meaning after she delivers a baby boy in the wilderness, amidst the cheerful celebrations in the town.
All the brazen public-shunning, and the agony of unassisted labour leaves the exhausted teenager completely disillusioned. As she lies all alone in the fading light, her maternal inadequacies painfully dawn upon her.
Endless questions with no logical answers plague her mind, making her doubt the very essence of her motherhood.
சின்னத் தாயவள் தந்த ராசாவே
முள்ளில் தோன்றிய சின்ன ரோசாவே…
Nowhere to go, she puts the baby on a cargo train in the hope that someone would find the newborn, and take him under their wings.
But destiny doesn’t seem to be in a mood to relent, as the door of the compartment nestling the baby loosens, and opens out.
Shell-shocked by this sudden turn of events, she runs behind the whooshing train for a while. At one point, she gives up and slumps on the track, wailing in agony.
The young girl, who had never seen the world outside her home, is left to deal with a barrage of alien and razor-sharp motherly instincts.
நம் சொந்தங்கள் யாராரோ…
உந்தன் கண்ணில் ஏன் தான் நீரோ!
As she looks towards the horizon, devastated, and helpless, what is that which is mercilessly consuming her? Guilt? Anger? Gloom? Doubt? Regret? You would know if you are Kalyani.
உன்னை நான் தான் நெஞ்சில் வாங்கிட
மெத்தை போலுன்னை மெல்லத் தாங்கிட
Fast forward thirty years, the abandoned baby boy has grown up to be Surya – the much-feared ‘Thalapathi’ and the trusted friend of the local slum lord, Deva – ruling the city and meting out justice as he deems fit.
Surya had, over time, warmed up to wear a mask of indifference, but deep within, the pain is seething. Losing your parent is one thing. The grief can leave you shattered. But, to realize that you were an undesired entity, only to be discarded by the genesis of your own blood… that’s quite a dreadful thought to live with. The more you think of it, the more it is likely to shake you to your soul’s core, leaving you numb and full of existential uncertainties.
But, the man had learnt to live with them. All the emotional trauma had made him short-tempered, but what it had not done is crush his spirit. With Deva by his side, he is determined to give back something to the community, which had nursed him to adulthood.
And in the process, he gets to lock horns with the newly appointed district collector, Arjun, who, incidentally, happens to be his antithesis, with a diametrically-opposite sense of justice.
Over the battle of conflicting sensibilities, Surya, one day, barges into the collector’s residence, and threatens Arjun’s mother, who’s none other than Kalyani.
Years after her tryst with destiny, Kalyani had married an understanding man, who, knowing about her first baby, had helped her wade through the relentless guilt.
Kalyani on her part, had learnt to live with the self-blame, but not a single day passes without thoughts of her dear son – the one she had halfheartedly run away from.
பால் மணம் வீசும் பூமுகம்
பார்க்கையில் பொங்கும் தாய் மனம்!
When Kalyani’s husband gets to know that Surya is the ill-fated child, who had grown up to be an apparent convict, he approaches Surya with a request to move away from Deva, and renounce his violent ways.
Surya reflexively refuses, citing Deva as his dear friend and the only person in the whole world who would care for him.
Kalyani’s husband however disagrees, telling him the truth about his wife. Surya is instantly lost for emotions. “How did she get the heart to throw me away? Why did she? What made her think that I would survive this desertion?” Incessant doubts regarding his mother’s apparent callousness are all he could convey, right up front.
However, when the old man attempts to explain the circumstances that forced her to take the fateful decision, it slowly starts to make sense for Surya. Unable to choose between his best friend and his newfound mother, he begs his step-dad not to reveal the truth about him to Kalyani.
Ah, how must it feel to have lost sleep over a close-someone’s insensitive decision over years, and wake up one fine day to realize the justifications behind it? Surya is not able to digest the sweeping implications for quite some time.
After days of contemplation, he follows Kalyani to a temple, gathering his emotions with considerable effort.
It’s amazing how a life-changing piece of information can change the way you perceive people.The same person he had shouted to, a week back, seems completely different now.
Hidden from Kalyani’s view, Surya stares at the lady – who had brought him into the world, and who is now ceaselessly repenting for the same – with stoic shock.
It’s tough to comprehend the sort of emotions he is going through. Thirty years of yearning for some form of affection and identity, and now, within the blink of an eyelid, the sight of the embodiment of love in his mother’s eyes. What does it mean to him? How would she feel if she knows of his brutal ways?
A hardened criminal in the eyes of the law, how would he come off in his mother’s eyes? Would this newfound identity alter his way of looking at life? What about his promise to Deva?
The apathy on Surya’s face slowly gives way to a deadly combination of joy, agony and confusion, as questions keep getting stacked on one another.
Kalyani, meanwhile, walks around the temple with a sombre look that seems to beg for some kind of redemption. Probably, she’s praying for the son, whom she never got to say goodbye to. She’s visibly hurting, but, have her inner demons grown stronger over the years?
Believe me, when you are a grieving parent, no amount of rational self-persuasion can silence the howling voice of guilt within. It’s potentially crippling, and it hits you at the most unexpected moments. But then, it’s also exasperating, as it’s intermittently replaced by a voice of hope, without any warning.
ஆயிரம் காலம் ஊர்வலம்
வேண்டிட வந்த பூச்சரம்
வெய்யில் வீதியில் வாடக் கூடுமோ
தெய்வக் கோயிலை சென்று சேருமோ
On one such moment of unrelenting torment, Kalyani instinctively senses someone watching her from behind, and turns back.
Surya, who has been following her, retreats just in time to escape from her sight, As she proceeds to close her eyes and pray, he is fighting a battle of epic proportions within. Caught in a whirlwind of elation and indecision, he sincerely wants to undo a lot of his past, but, can’t seem to get a hold on the infinite repercussions.
One glimpse at his mother’s lamenting eyes and all words cease to exist for Surya. A part of him wants to put all the emotional baggage behind, hug his mother tightly, and tell her that none of this was her fault… that he wants to be nothing else other than her loving son. Only that the other part – the one which is more in touch with the reality – takes over soon. And makes sure he stands grounded, staring at the woman’s departing silhouette.
சின்னத் தாயவள் தந்த ராசாவே
முள்ளில் தோன்றிய சின்ன ரோசாவே…
But then, he has seen his mother; which has now given him a freaking purpose to exist. Nothing else mattered.
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