my thoughts expressed in words

Kappal and sippal

on June 8, 2019

At the outset, I wish to clarify that this is a small step / attempt I am making to translate my own tamizh blog post.

So it’s tamizh and not tamil.

Zha (ழ) a letter in tamizh is unique to the language and also to malayalam another wonderful south Indian language. One needs to take the tip of the tongue to the roof of the mouth and release the tongue to produce the sound. Looks complicated?. Not really.

Now going back to the title

Kappal – means a ship.

Sippal – means a plate which has perforations on one half . It was in olden days used to cover the pot in which rice was cooked. Once the rice is cooked, the excess water was drained through the perforations. It was also used to scoop out Small amount of rice from the bigger vessel to facilitate serving.

So, kappal is to personify the bigger volume and sippal is to personify the smaller volume.

This post is on a heavy subject. “Death”

I attempted to write on it, just to reassure my clan, that “this too shall pass”. A close buddy of mine lost her younger brother to cancer. But by the time I am translating my original tamizh post, I had so many people writing back to me how my words resonated with them, how they found solace in my words, how it served as a reminder, and how it helped them to understand that it happens to everyone and they are not alone in grieving the death of a kith.

Death was introduced to me by my parents when I was quite young. It is they who dropped me in the scene when someone in the family died and made me swim on my own.

My mom used to recollect how I had put up the questions of what they do when people die. She never brushed me aside. She once thought, I would not be able to comprehend and just said., “They take the dead person’s body and leave it in a place and come back home”

I seem to have negated her and explained that they ‘burn’ the body as I had read in Harischandra’s story in Amar Chitra Katha.

Shanthi Ramachandran , widely known in Instagram sent a message on that fateful day,

Buddy, my brother lost in his battle with cancer

My respectful homage to Mr. Rajamani🙏🏼🙏🏼

I wished I could hug her, but time and distance keeps us away at such times. I conveyed my condolences to her and gave her time, and called her a couple of days to have a word with her. She is shaken badly. Kept telling how his health deteriorated in the last twelve months. How fond he was to her being the youngest in the family. Her father is ninety three and mom must be in late eighties. Trust me this is not the age tosee your children die. Any age is bad. But to live up to this ripe old age and see your child die is too painful. Right from the Hindu mythological character Shantanu and Malaya who saw their son Shravan die to this day’s Shanti’s parents its misery to the core.

My father in law and my mother were/are very good in using quotes and metaphors and idioms and phrases as they speak.

So its imbibed in me and I was quickly seen using a few of them while speaking to shanthi. When I used to grieve at the death of some one young in age, my father in law uses this metaphor and says,

“Anu.. what can be done? Some souls carry with them in kappal and some in sippal. ”

They carry their karma in a kappal full load and sippal full load. The one that has more has to live, shed the karma and then leave whatever be the age. The ones that have carried a smaller load of karma lives and exhausts it soon and leaves early. How true it is isn’t it? There is nothing which can change the duration of our stay on this planet. But, good deeds and acquisition of good karma can determine whether you will be left with kappal or sippal loads in your next birth.

It is not at all easy to cope with the loss of your loved ones. I swear, you cannot imagine a life minus them. I was in college when my dad was diagnosed of throat cancer. While I was not a young child, I was so scared and probably my brain stopped working, that I thought he will die tomorrow or day after. I used to take a close look of his chest heaving after he slept to make sure he is alive and breathing. I used to ask myself,

“How can there be a life without appa, its unimaginable “

But now its twenty six years since he attained his heavenly abode, and my life is still going on. I have lived three decades without him against the two decades I lived with him. What stopped because of his absence? NOTHING AND NOTHING ALONE IS THE ANSWER. Actually nothing stops. We grieve, then the next dawn is there, there is an urge to have a cup of steaming hot coffee, stomach rumbles and you start searching for food, you have a bath, and continue. Slowly the routine comes back. When I left my mother after my father’s death and when I found it difficult to do that she said,

” As days pass by and food with salt gets absorbed in your system and with ever sip of water that is consumed you will feel better”

How true is that!

Time and time alone can heal us.

She was my embodiment of strength. After all she is the daughter of Janaki amma who is the super embodiment of mental strength. She is my ammamma. ( mother’s mother for a literal translation), my maternal grandmother. She lived upto a ripe old age of 103. Has seen the death of

Her husband

Her first born son

Her first born daughter(my mom)

Her sons in law ( my dad and aunt’s husband)

Yet never asked the “why me” question. She used to say, “Its their karma to suffer /die and its my karma to be a witness”

Is it as simple as that.? To me “yes”

When I found this is the ONLY answer to all those intriguing questions beyond our comprehending capacity, just know that this is the only answer. You may not be able to do it overnight but nothing stops us from being conscious about that and trying to stay calm. I have been seasoned to handle life with this formula. Life threw difficult, tough situations very early in life. But I chose to look around and learn. There are so many out there with tougher situations.

The famous lyricist kannadasan of Tamizh cinema, writes in one of his songs,

If all those who arrive, stay back on this planet, where will we have enough place?

Life is a business

Birth is an income and death is an expense.

The Rajus and Ramaswamys (shanti’s brother and my dad) cannot just stay back eternally. As Shanthi makes a hashtag ” thistooshallpass” we can remember them by deriving strength from their valour, their practicality

We need to learn to emotionally let go.

We need to derive strength from others.

We need to be empathetic towards fellow humans and be willing to lend a shoulder to cry and at the same time make them understand that


2 responses to “Kappal and sippal

  1. Saira Ginu says:

    Lots of insights..loved reading your bit of heart. The words that comes out of experience is too precious.Thank you for sharing.

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