Chekkel adikkum

(Translation on request for A.)
This is a folk song from the days of feudalism in Kerala, when influential families of higher caste held vast areas of land and these lands were leased out to people of lesser financial or social standing, to cultivate crops. Chaathan and Neeli are one such lessee couple who grew chembaavu rice in their fields. They seem to have had a misfortune of losing their crop in a flood and are going to the landlord to tell him about the same. They start from their home at the break of dawn, go up the hill to their landlord’s home. The palahaaram (snack) they brought on the way was eaten by ants because the strands of the basket it was kept came loose. (This could probably mean they are really poor to get another basket or just their misfortune continues even here.) Even though they are going through a tough time, they have each other and are contented about that.

I couldn’t find the lyricist for the song Avial sings. Anyway, it goes without saying, Avial’s music composition rocks! (no pun intended  😀 )

This cover of the Avial song by Pathayam is pretty good too. The slower tempo somehow brings the pathos the song requires, given that it is about loss.

Here is another folk version (possibly the original lyrics handed down orally by generations) sung by C.J. Kuttappan, a singer who specializes in folklore songs. The lines are a bit different, but the concept of the song holds. The lyrics of this song describes the couple’s journey sequentially as to how and why the couple start from their home and what happens on the way. Avial’s lyrics confused me a little bit about the timeline of what happens until I listened to this one.

Chekkel* adikkum munpe, theyyam thaaro
+Chembattu veeshum munpe, theyyam thaaro
[Before the chekkel blows
Before the red silk waves]
Chembaavum** paadathu Chaathanum Neeliyum
Thambran*** padikka chenne, theyyam thaaro
[Chaathan and Neeli of chembaavu fields
went to the landlord’s front steps]
Thakathaara thaaro…

Maalimada murinje, theyyam thaaro
Cherikkelum mudinje, theyyam thaaro
[The bund (which keeps water out) to the field is broken (because of flood)
And the fields are ruined]
Maadathil enthundu kaachikkudikkanayi,
anthikku edi kidathee, theyyam thaaro
[What is left in our hut, to boil and drink,
this evening, my girl?]

Thakathaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thom
Thakathaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thom
Thakathaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thom
Thakathaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thom

Ee aandil kaazhcha**** illae, theyyam thaaro
Ee kollam onam vanne, theyyam thaaro
[This year there will be no offering (to the landlords),
when Onam comes this year]
Kaalimalathara thambran kudimala
thaedi nadakollane, theyyam thaaro
[To the landlord’s home in Kaalimalathara,
let’s start walking ]
Thakathara thaaroo…

Puttil urumbariche theyyam thaaro
Vatti valampirinje theyyam thaaro
[Ants have gotten into the puttu*****
(because) the basket’s strings have gone loose/broken]
Kannodu kannilum chuttinadanne,
vekkam nada nadanne theyyam thaaro
[Walked looking into each other’s eye,
walked in haste (to landlord’s place)]
Thakathara thaaroo…

Thakathaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thom
Thakathaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thom
Thakathaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thom
Thakathaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thom

Thakathaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thom
Thakathaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thom
Thakathaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thom
Thakathaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thaara thakathimi thom

* Chekkel – I couldn’t find a clear translation for this word anywhere. If I am to guess, it is some kind of wind as the second line says a red silk waves (in the wind). In this trailer video by C.J. Kuttappan, he uses thekkel instead of chekkel. Thekku means South in Malayalam. So this may be referring to the South Western monsoon winds.
+ Red silk here is a metaphor for dawn. So this line figuratively means before the dawn spreads.
** Chembaavu is a type of red rice grown in Kerala.
***Thambran – This is a word of respect used to refer someone of higher social standing. Contextually here it means landlord. Thambran or Thamburan is used for princes/kings also.
**** Kaazhcha is a token offering/gift which the lessees give the landlords when they go to visit them, especially during festivals like Onam. The landlords give them traditional clothes like kasavu mundu (dhoti with gold threaded sides) as a return gift.
***** Puttu is a breakfast dish from Kerala made of roasted rice powder and grated coconut.

++Image copyright to the original uploader.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s