The Moon & The Ocean

Letter 35

o’ dearest moon
even when the Ocean hasn’t seen her in days
yet knows she is still there
as his waves twist and curl in visions of her hair
he continues to wait the time
when once more into the night she will climb
to share herself in her way

At least that’s what the letter would have read if she had opened it.

Like all the other letters she quickly collected it and placed it into a box, which she then slid under her bed with a swift kick. Tissarakkhā went quickly to preparing dinner, Tāy would be home soon and she wanted to surprise her. Before boiling water she grabbed a rusted kettle to see if there was any mark on her cheek still but couldn’t see anything through the time on the metal. Rubbish she said out loud to no one in particular and tossed the pot aside.


A purr from outside the door told her Tāy was home.

குறிஞ்சி – தலைவன் கூற்று

குறிஞ்சி – தலைவன் கூற்றுயாயும் ஞாயும் யாரா கியரோ
எந்தையும் நுந்தையும் எம்முறைக் கேளிர்
யானும் நீயும் எவ்வழி யறிதும்
செம்புலப் பெயனீர் போல
அன்புடை நெஞ்சம் தாங்கலந் தனவே.-செம்புலப் பெயனீரார்.

Red Earth and Pouring Rain

What could my mother be
to yours? What kin is my father
to yours anyway? And how
Did you and I meet ever?
But in love
our hearts have mingled
as red earth and pouring rain

~Translated by AK Ramanujan


My mother and yours,

what were they to each other?

My father and yours ,

how were they kin?

I and you ,

how do we know each other?

and yet

like water that has rained on red fields,

our hearts in their love

have mixed together.

~Translated by Gorge L. Hart

Poet: Sembula Peyaneerar


Tissarakkhā was very good at fishing and the Indian traders respected her for that. She collected her rod and catch for the day, turned to her fellow fisherman and curtsied. Many of them gave a gentle nod while a few were too distracted with particularly difficult struggles. With a smile she leapt barefoot off her rock and into the sand below.

The Ocean crashed and surged behind her, but in it’s wake she heard the faint whisper of an arrow being dequivered, and a bow being strung back. A soft Ttthp could be heard as it gently passed through Tissarakkhā’s hair. She turned to let the feathers brush her cheek and a smile pursed her lips which gave birth to a now infamous giggle. Digging her foot into the beach with a twist just behind where the arrow landed she spun on a heel. Tossing her catch into the next flown arrow she side stepped right to let the skewered fish fall harmlessly to the ground beside her. By now most of the fisherman had cut their lines and turned to watch.


After waiting some time with no further arrows flown, the fisherman returned to the sea. Tissarakkhā rose and wiped her cheek with the billowing silk of her sleeve. It was cold against her tender skin but she was relieved to find she wasn’t bleeding.  Another fish landed in the sand beside her with a dead thump.

“Naṉṟi,” she said aloud to no one in particular.

A man with a long grey beard braided with beads, stood  balancing on a pole several waves deep into the Ocean. He flicked his wrist and nodded to her, then cast his rod back out. Some of the men & womyn were diving off their poles into the waves below them, day’s catch in hand. It was magic hour, as they called it. Work was done when the sun dove into the drink, and they would surely all soon follow. They swam and laughed, even splashing one another. All of them older than she, they began to imitate her giggle while she washed the sand off two fair sized thora. We will eat well tonight she thought as she walked home. The way was familiar so she let her mind wander, wondering who was mad this time. Perhaps it was the butcher who she cheated out of a perfectly good elephant last week. Or perhaps just the stick fisherman being fools again. It wouldn’t be the first time they tried to play a prank similar, but yet, the wind pricking at her cheek said differently. She hurried home the rest of the way.

There was a letter waiting for her when she arrived.

Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world

~Lao Tzu

Chapter One

An Argument Becomes A Discussion

The water buffalo Lao Tzu had been travelling with had taken to a small foliage patch near a coconut tree, just as Buddha’s followers had ventured into the village to find food and shelter for the evening. This had allowed the two men some much needed time to themselves, which very quickly developed into a heated argument over the taste of vinegar.

“It tastes sour, and we must struggle to swallow it. Vinegar is the flavour of life.” Buddha said with a finality.

“It tastes different.” Lao Tzu said with a smile. “Perhaps you don’t enjoy it, but I’m sure you enjoy tea.”

“Who does not enjoy tea? But you only prove my point, vinegar is not tea, and it does not taste good.”

“But the taste of vinegar reminds us of how good tea does taste. Vinegar is a flavour of life.”

Buddha meditated on this for some time in silence while Lao Tzu danced and played with some monkeys that had gathered around them.

“Is this what you meant when you said pain is vinegar?” Buddha asked after some time had passed.

Lao Tzu had taken to lying on the ground staring at the stars and did not raise his head to answer.

“Just one of the many flavours of life.”

Buddha arose and began to return to the village. He turned with a smile, “Will you join me for dinner old friend?”

Lao Tzu rolled over in the sand and rested his head on his hands. “Can we have dumplings!?”

“Of course.” Buddha answered. “But you have to eat yours with vinegar.”

They both laughed and started towards the village gates.

Buddha and Lao Tzu Were Having an Arguement

Buddha and Lao Tzu were sitting on the beach watching the summer creep back into the ocean when they began to argue.


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