Tuesday, March 15, 2016

When the mind goes a-wandering…

Sometimes I miss home. Mostly those days when I am feeling a bit under the weather and sick. But those are the times that I crave for Amma’s cuddle or Appa’s fretfulness at what might just be a headache.

Days when I am bogged down at work, or I feel unbelievable amounts of stress for no particular reason, my mind starts wandering. I reminisce about Kalam. About old childhood memories.

Have I told you about Kalam?

It was this large family home where I and Achu spent the better part of our childhood.  The house is no longer standing; we razed it down as it was getting difficult to maintain it, what with the termites and other small reptiles making it their home. But it was such a beautiful sprawling house. I make it a point to visit it every time I am at Palghat. A walk through the winding trails, through the bushes, an almost dry canal, into the rubber trees, and back to the base finishing off with an elaneer or two, is a standing practice these days. I have very fond memories of the place.

Appa’s Rajdoot bike parked in a corner.  Sargent our dog, who used to  make himself comfortable beside the bike.  Achu wearing my blue frock and coming down the stairs at Kalam.  Amma chasing us all around the house with books in one hand, trying to make us sit and study.  Ammamma holding a long stick in her hands, trying to hunt down the snake that appeared in the store-room amidst the dry coconut husks.  Sahadevan’s auto.  The Chembaka tree in front and the smell of the flowers. The Krishna idol that stands tall and the bench where Thatha used to sit.  The parrot cage hanging in front of the pillars outside with the cawing of the bird and me trying to teach the bird to sing / talk / repeat after me. Skinned knees from the trips down to the ‘parakulam’.  Amma wrapping me and Achu in one big towel after our baths.  The huge Aatukattil in the hall.  The cool floors inside where Thatha used to lie down in the afternoons and let us kids climb all over him.  The office rooms at the end of each side where chithappa and thatha sat doing their work.  The bell that Thatha jangled when he did the poojai.  The old bathrooms with their creaky taps.  The naripaarai where foxes used to come at night.  The attic where one had to crawl up a flight of stairs, almost like transporting us into a fabled other world.  The bats that used to be seen in the attic sometimes.  The granary inside the house where they used to store rice and other items.  The thair-kadayal that happened religiously every day.  The vadaams and koozhumaavu that Ammamma dried on the terrace.  The rubber sheets and the smokehouse.  The cowshed and the cows that grazed around.  The chakkai’s during the season. And the mambazhams. The elaneer that Sahadevan prised off the coconut trees. The bilvam leaves. The odds and ends, nooks and crannies, the water tanks. The rubber trees. The canal that ran by the side of it. The ball badminton ground. The Vishnu temple.

You know how they say; you never know value of what you have until you lose it?

Kalam for me is an example of that. Sometimes I wish the place was still there or that we had kept it and maintained it for what it was worth. 

I wish I was there now.

At Kalam. Or at least what’s left of it.  


elaneer - tender coconut juice, chembaka - champak tree, aatukattil - traditional swinging bed, naripaarai - fox hillock (literal translation), thayir-kadayal - churning of the milk to get curd, chakkai - jackfruit, mambazham- mangoes, paarakulam - rock pond. 

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