Bitty Ruminations 93 – Asking for help (with a little help from lyricist Vaali)

A big thank-you to everyone who responded to the earlier thread, which is a reminder that people can help you only if they know you need help — meaning, you have to ask for help. And as with most situations in life, there’s a philosophical film song that expresses this emotion. I am referring to Poongodi thaan poothathamma, from Idhayam (1991), composed by Ilaiyaraaja and written by Vaali.

The opening lines are breathtaking. A flower has blossomed. A bee has witnessed this. But the bee, for some reason, takes its time — and before it can get there, the breeze blows the flower away. From this scene-setting “abstract”-ness, derived from Nature, the song gets into very specific human, very domestic situations situations, and the line that kills me is this one:

உன் வீட்டு கண்ணாடி
ஆனாலும் கூட
முன் வந்து நின்றால்தான்
முகம் காட்டும் இங்கே

As a line of poetry, I don’t find it very elegant — there’s a “fitted-in” quality to the meter/rhyme. (That “இங்கே” at the end really gnaws at me.) But as a thought, how brilliant this is! Even the mirror won’t show you your reflection unless you stand in front of it. Extending the metaphor a little more: Even the mirror won’t show you your reflection unless you stand in front of it, i.e. “confront” it, i.e. ask for its help to reflect you.

This, I have found, is the key to difficult situations. You have to confront them. (Going back to the earlier Bitty Ruminations, YOU have to ASK for help.) Of course, this is not easy for some people, because — like everything else in life — it depends on your internal wiring. Talking about feelings comes easy to some people. For others, bottling up emotions is how they do it. You cannot force anyone into a behaviour that does not come easy to them, nor can they “break” that behaviour until a certain moment comes and convinces them (or forces them) to do so. For some, that moment may never arrive. Either way, this song (and its lyric-thoughts) capture this conundrum beautifully.

As an aside, a lot of people associate the philosophical film song (thathuva paadal) as something that belongs to the MSV-era, but it has thrived through the 80s, 90s — why, you find examples of it even today! Here is one of my favourites, from Naan (2012), composed by Vijay Antony and written by Annamalai. The general idea is that nothing in life comes without an amount of pain, and making peace with this pain allows you to get ahead. I have often used it as a pick-me-up.

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