We start this post with a story we heard in Vattakanal, it is a Swedish tale of two brothers and the promised land of Nangijala.
The Tale – Untold
In a tale of two brothers we meet a bed-ridden child named Skorpan who has been quite sick. He learns that he’s going to die soon. He wonders out aloud in a conversation with his older brother, Jonatan.
“How can things be so terrible?” Skorpan asked.“How can things be so terrible that some people have to die, when they’re not even ten years old?”
“You know, I don’t think it’s that terrible,” said Jonatan. “I think you’ll have a marvelous time.”
“Marvelous,” he said. “Is it marvelous to lie under the ground and be dead?”
“Oh,” said Jonatan. “It’s only your shell that lies there, you know? You yourself fly away somewhere quite different.”
“Where?” he asked, because he could hardly believe him.
“To Nangijala,” he said. To Nangijala–he just threw out the word as if it were something everyone in the world knew. But at the time, he had never heard it mentioned before.
“Nangijala?” he said, “Where’s that?”
Then Jonatan said that he wasn’t quite certain, but it was somewhere on the other side of the stars. And he began to tell about Nangijala.
“It’s still in the days of campfires and sagas there,” he said, “and you’ll like that.” All the sagas came from Nangijala, he said, for it was there that everything of that kind happened, and it you went there, then you could take part in adventures from morning till evening, and at night, Jonatan said.
Skorpan is afraid that it’s going to take such a long time before Jonatan gets there and he doesn’t want to be alone. Jonatan tells him that time is not the same in Nangijala, 90 years can feel like a few days, and if he misses him too much there are pigeons that can fly through the skies and visit him on earth.
But as fate would have it, before Skorpan dies their house catches fire and Jonatan, in his attempt to save them by jumping out from the window – fails, and dies first.
A pigeon comes and sits outside Skorpan’s window one day and that makes his doubt go away about if Nangijala exists or not. When he wakes up in the grass underneath apple trees he knows where he is. He finds Jonatan fishing by the lake and they end up swimming even though Skorpan never knew how to swim on earth.
Jonatan explains that in Nangijala everything is possible. It’s not just that everything is possible here it’s also like they were chosen and expected by the people in Cherry Valley of Nangijala. Everything seems a bit mystical and magical here; the nature, the people and what’s going on. (adapted from: Lindgren, Astrid. The Brothers Lionheart, Sweden 1973.)
Back on the Ground
When we got out of our Rs.200 cab from Kodai City bus stand to Vattakanal and opened our eyes, ears, lungs and feelings to it, our friend from Sweden put her hands on her lips and let escape “Å fan, det här är”; which translates to “Oh damn, this is Nangijala!”
A little later as we look for a place to live in the village, we run into another Swede (how uncommonly random?) who exclaims, ” Å fan, ja ja, detta är Nangijala!”
This goes on to describe Vattakanal…(Oh sorry), Nangijala as a land of valleys and magical forests, of streams and meadows, of orchards and blossoms, of pretty birds and funny beasts, of clouds high above and mists down below, of blue skies and green earth, of campfires and fairytales.
To this heavenly land on the other side of the stars, we’ll bring more surprises as we go further.
By “UcL Wanderers”