Pollap Puliyinum

TigerToday I have a sad story to tell you..in fact, a horrific story. If you are new to my blog, you may wonder what horrific stories have to do with music? Me, I see life weaving into music and music weaving into life; if horrid things happen in life, I look for a reflection of that in music as well.

This is about a couple I know for many years now. They are what I would call social friends – people one meets rarely and mostly in the company of others, with whom you may share a drink, a meal, a conversation and a few good laughs. H (49) is Irish, G (46) from Kazakhstan. They have no children. Both of them have had good careers; they belong to the educated, well-to-do, well travelled society that career expats often enjoy.  H cooks well and has a lovely sense of humour. G always reminded me of a Russian doll- round-faced, placid, gentle. A few years back she was diagnosed with cancer. She was very ill for a while but recovered with treatment. I thought that was the great trauma of her life. I thought wrong.

On the 23rd of March, H picked up a knife and stabbed G more than 50 times. She must have tried to run and escape for there was blood all over their apartment, the apartment which was beautifully refurbished with great attention to detail and decorated tastefully and luxuriously. I remember their house-warming party, remember admiring their taste. It was in that apartment that G lay dead in a pool of blood and H lay unconscious beside her, having tried to kill himself with medication and alcohol. He recovered in a couple of days, confessing to the crime. All that the newspapers say is that the murder occurred after a domestic dispute.

How could I have known, I wonder, how could I have seen that there was this monster inside a man whose cooking I have enjoyed, whose jokes I have laughed at, whom I thought of as genial gentleman ? How could he possibly have picked up a knife and sunk it into the soft flesh of his wife of many years, not once, but more than 50 times? Surely she must have begged him to stop. Did he not hear her? What could she possibly have done which deserved this frenzied massacre ?

G is not the first to be attacked by the one who should have loved her most. The statistics on domestic violence is mind boggling. It is across countries, social status, educational levels, religions. Some shocking statistics here (source: United Nations website) :

  • In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, 40 to 70 per cent of female murder victims were killed by their partners.
  • Several global surveys suggest that half of all women who die from homicide are killed by their current or former husbands or partners.
  • It is estimated that, worldwide, one in five women will become a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime.
  • Women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria, according to World Bank data.

I am sure that stats in India would be even more frightening. There is a BBC article here, but they talk of crimes reported. We all know that most crimes against women just goes unreported so these stats are way off the mark. In a survey of 9938 women in the late nineties, one in 4 women were either slapped, kicked, hit, beaten, threatened or raped within a year of the survey. Reasons include ‘not cooking properly’, ‘not attending household’, ‘talking to neighbours’….!!!!!!!

If you think this has nothing to do with you – look around you. Do you know four women in your family, mothers, sisters, cousins? One of them may well be abused. Do you know four men, friends, colleagues, relatives? One of them may be abusing his wife, his daughter, his girl-friend.

This touches us all.

This is criminal, cruel.

This is unjust in the eyes of man and God.

This must stop.

And so I come to my song choice of today. In this song Papanasam Sivan talks of himself as ‘a cruel man more wicked than a wicked tiger’. I do not  understand why he calls himself that, but his words were what I remembered when I heard of the rabid-animal like behaviour of H. He goes on to say ‘I will not kill the fury of lust and anger which rise within me’. Is not the lack of control of that fury which makes a man into an animal? The song has very strong lyrics, check the footnote if interested. Set to Mayamalavagowla, it sounds best when sung in a brisk pace. I present to you this very nice performance by Sandeep Narayan, accompanied by Mysore V.Srikanth on the violin and Neyveli B.Venkatesh on the Mridangam (I so admire him!).

 Alternate rendition : Click here

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Papanasam Sivan
Raga : Mayamalavagowla
Language : Tamil

பொல்லாப் புலியினும் பொல்லாக் கொடியன் என்னை
புவிதனில் ஏன் படைத்தாய் சம்போ

நல்லோரைக் கனாவினாலும் நணுக மாட்டேன்
நல்லது சொன்னாலும் கேட்க மாட்டேன்

உன் நாமம் என் நாவாலும் சொல்ல மாட்டேன்
உள்ளெழும் காமக்ரோத மதம் கொல்ல மாட்டேன்
எந்நாளும்  மூவாசையை வெல்ல மாட்டேன்
என் ஐயன் உன் ஆலயத்துள் செல்ல மாட்டேன்


pollAp-puliyinum pollAk-koDiyan ennai
bhuvitanil En paDaittAi, shambhO

nallOraik-kanAvilum naNuga mATTEn
nalladu sonnAlum kETka mATTEn

un nAmam en nAvAlum solla mATTEn
uLLezhum kAma krOda madam koLLa mATTEn
ennALum mUvAsaiyai vella mATTEn
en aiyan un AlayattuL  sella mATTEn


O Lord Shiva (shambhO), why (En) did you create me (paDaittAy) in this world (bhuvitanil), a cruel man (koDiyan) more wicked (pollA) than a wicked tiger (pollA puliyinum)?

I will not approach (naNuga mATTEn) good people (nallOr) even in my dreams (kanavilum). Even if good things (nalladu) were told to me (sonnAlum), I will not listen (kETka mATTEn).

I will not utter (solla mATTEn) your name (un nAmam) even with my tongue (nAvAlum). I will not kill (kolla mATTEn) the fury/passion (madam) of lust (kAma) and anger (krOda) which rise within me (uLLezhum).  I will never (ennALum) subdue/win over (vella mATTEn) the three passions (mUvAsai) (these are மண்ணாசை பெண்ணாசை பொன்னாசை, the desire for land, for women, for gold). My master (aiyan), I will not go (sella mATTEn) into (uL) your temple (Alayam).


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Papanasam Sivan, Sandeep Narayan

8 responses to “Pollap Puliyinum

  1. Ramesh

    What an appalling incident. A complete tragedy. It can completely shake you and leave you doubting if there is a monster inside everybody you meet.

    It is understandable that it is viewed as a man vs woman issue, but I submit the “monster” is gender insensitive. Different people use different weapons, that’s all.

    I would think Papanasam Sivan’s lament is how baser emotions take over us at some time or another. I think he is chiding the Lord for creating us thus and underneath the words is a plea for helping man overcome them.

    Hadn’t heard this song before – so nice to be introduced to it. By the way, you have to admire anybody from Neyveli 🙂

    • You are right that the monster is inside everyone and the weapons are different, but still..as far as physical violence is concerned, the stats are definitely one-sided. And your interpretation of Papanasam Sivan’s words sound very reasonable. As to Neyveli, yes, I remember where you are from 🙂
      cheers. Suja.

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about this horrific incident. How terrible for her, and what a shock for their friends and family to deal with.

    There can indeed be a monster inside everybody, and anyone is capable of losing themselves in an instant. But sadly men are far more likely to express negative feelings (and assert control) in the form of violence towards women. It’s due to so many complicated reasons, over centuries, worldwide, but I think a key way of helping to resolve this is by teaching young boys and girls that they are equally as valuable as each other in this world.

    As always your choice of music was beautiful, and the translation a great addition. I hope it helped you find peace in some way.

    • Thank you Sakthi for your very empathetic comment. It has been a great shock to everyone who knew the couple and we are still reeling from it. There is a great sense of disbelief and grief..I walk by their home on my daily walk and it keeps coming back to me. It will be a long time before I find closure.

      I agree with all you say about the violence in society. It is up to us all to teach self-esteem to all those who come within our influence, to teach that violence should neither be perpetuated nor tolerated. It is up to all of us to eliminate that monster within ourselves.


      • sundari sankaran

        what is the name of this monster? we need to identify in order to subdue it.
        S was the most affectionate husband of Y until 11.9 .2014 on which day he slashed her 5 times with a arivaal. surrendered to the police.
        He was our trusted driver friend guide and philosopher . the very epitome of etiquette . When the demon of suspicion , founded or unfounded, entered the fertile mind , his ruin was waiting.
        A fellow loved by all including other staff ,never known to have uttered a harsh word even under provocative situations which are available in plenty in Chennai traffic, kills his beloved only so she is not possessed by another man .
        When I read your blog I was re living that night I was told of the gruesome murder.

      • Oh the pity of it! My son (a doctor on his way to becoming a psychiatrist) says that it is possible that some event causes such severe psychological pain in somebody that they would do anything to try and remove-obliterate-the cause of that pain. Jealousy can be a strong emotion..I wondered about that with our friends as well. Was G seeing some other man maybe? Did she demand a divorce? But look at the result..H and your S are both far far more unhappier now than they would have been if their wives had taken up with another man. The Gita talks about loving without attachment..to be able to love and let go, that is something one needs to learn.
        Cheers. Suja

  3. Padma

    Dear Suja, A very tragic incident… There existed a monster inside a well known neighborhood gentleman is frightening indeed.. Can imagine how difficult it must have been for all of you to accept this.
    And as you say we may start doubting everyone now..
    And what a song… Penned by papanasam sivan… When I read the Lyrics and meaning wondered why did he have to write one such song, but Ramesh s comments here under gives some clarity.
    Hope you hear see better things and this goes out of your thoughts….

    • Thank you Padma..it is true, we are really struggling to come to terms with this. A month has passed and still we don’t know why, what happened to that poor man..because I have decided that he is indeed someone to be much pitied. Imagine having to live with the guilt throughout his life! May God forgive him. The sad thing is G has passed away, poor H is in a really bad place but life around it all just marches on, waiting for nobody. I too have left it all in the hands of God and turned my thoughts to happier things. I thank you for your kind thoughts.

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