Ainthinai Aimpathu – 21
O’ Bard, you are not unlike the man who sells
small eyed needle in blacksmith’s street
at inflated prices! – tell us the real message
sent by the man from paddy field ringed village.
கொண்டுழிப் பண்டம் விலை ஒரீஇக் கொற்சேரி
நுண் துளைத் துன்னூசி விற்பாரின், ஒன்றானும்
வேறு அல்லை,-பாண!-வியல் ஊரன் வாய்மொழியைத்
தேற, எமக்கு உரைப்பாய், நீ.
He has been away at his courtesan’s house for long. Now he wants to return back to his house. Afraid of his wife’s anger he sends his bard to appease her. She refuses to hear the flowery words of the bard. She says to him, “You are not much different from the man who sells small eyed thin needles at inflated prices in blacksmith’s street. I know the value of what you are selling. So don’t waste my time but tell me the real message that he sent across.”
Selling needle in blacksmith’s street is the equivalent of selling coal to Newcastle. The proverb is a common usage in Tamil even today. (கொல்லன் தெருல ஊசி வித்த கதையா).