|Posted on November 20, 2011 at 12:45 AM|
MY VERY OWN KAKU
I landed at Palakkad Railway Station on oct 12th 1984, the climate than was quite hot for a Bangaloren like me who are used to more pleasant climate, sweating all through my way, but that did not dispel my enthusiasm as I was visiting my Uncle places which is around 22kms from the Station. Usually we used to take Autorikshaw ride upto Palghat town, and then take a bus ride up to Kollongode., since my elder brother Veera was accompanying me this time he took the train route up to otthara which is quite close to Kollongode, from there we took a Auto Rickshaw ride to my village which called Eastern Village, Kizhekegramam called in Tamil.
The best part of the journey was the train ride from Palakkad Junction previously called Ollavakode, I could see on my way miles and miles of coconut plantation and between I could see paddy, banana and other plantation which was a treat to my eyes. The wind blowing from time to time used to set the paddy plantation swing into symmetrical dance form unknown to any one of us. This rare tapestry culminating out of nature’s own manifestation showing a humble human being like us, to understand that the nature has varied forms of dance and music which we are yet to understand and relate too.
On reaching my maternal uncles home my brother left me there, the same night he was back to take the train back to Bangalore. I was to stay put with my Uncle for next 8 months, besides my uncle , my Aunt, My Grandmother and my Uncle's Aunts Son Attan who would have then been in his late seventies were there in the house.
The house was called Iyengars house and just could not understand why such a name was given as all of us were Iyers, not just in my house, but all the villager were Iyers too, so why Iygengars house prefix came to my maternal family is quite unknown to me till date.
The house begins with 9 inclining steps which I used to feel is not user friendly, most of the houses were identical, I used to compare it with city houses which are more user friendly. As one goes into the house, we have a large sit out which was called Thinnai (Sit out) with just one easy chair on it , probably meant for head of the family and all others were to sit on the ground. I used to wonder what kind of relationship these people share, when people are not treated as equals as was the case in big cities. As a quorum in Big Cities, where father and son used to speak like friends and share information’s. From the sit out we have an entry through a passage which used to be the rectangular straight passage through which one could reach up to the back yard, As we start from Thinnai on the either side of the house we have Large rooms which is called KOODAM, THE LITERAL TRANSALTION MEANS NEST, but I don’t know why a living room is called by such a name?. The right side koodam was adorned with Large size photograph of many gods, and it is perhaps a print from Raja Ravi Verma’s collections, which is still hanging there for close to 80 years. Neither my Uncle or anybody else, ever bothered to change the frames, which is almost getting eaten up by termites etc., except for praying these gods to bless them, the family has kept these gods too in a pathetic state.
The right side Koodam (Living room) too was equally large had a sofa set on the right side. on the right side of the wall there was a large book shelf, with amazing variety of books which none of the family members used to even glance except my Uncles Paternal Uncle Mr. Venkitramani , we used to called him chittaappa, who was perhaps the only one to go to college and I was told he studied up to BA but did not complete, which by itself is too high as none of the other family members has ever stepped into the protals of college gate, including my uncle who did not pass Secondary schools, for them why will Shakespeare or Keats appeal? As such that was also a neglected portion, its fate was the same as that of the Gods.
As we go inside, we have huge kitchen which had Adupu(Conventional Stove) a rectangular 6 feet long with four feeders through which wooden logs used to be inserted and lit, I had a vivid memory I used to wonders about the wall right above the stove, which was black and I was told it could be washed at the end of the days cooking, and one could see one own reflection on it( To be very frank half of this was narrated to me by my mother’s) when I tried seeing my face there I could not----Then I thought it is more of an exaggeration than reality ,which is perhaps the hall mark of people taking about their own past. \
As we come out of the kitchen we have something called Thavaram which acts as a interface between Kitchen and Dining room which in the colloquial terms called Kolathavaram. Here I used to see all the male members of the family having food and in today’s parlance it is dining room for men only, the women would have it in kitchen itself. What a gender bias!
Adjacent to kitchen is a semi wash room and thereafter we used to have 10steps declining stairway which leads to squared open space which had Tholasi madam(A Godly herbal plant worshipped by Hindus especially the women) the legend has it that the women who worship this plant will usher in long life for her husband and children, besides well being of the house. As we proceed to the back yard we have two room structures which is called Rendan Kattu,( which means second house, when literally translated) the orthodox Brahmins would make their women stay in that place during the menstrual cycle, but by this time it has turned out to be just another rooms where the waste and wood for cooking was stored. The next is the cow shed and after that we have one bathroom which was quite huge. Here the bath room was sparing used, as men and women used to take bath on the village pond.
The backyard of the house used to have plenty of vegetation once, I remember a Mango tree, plenty of coconut tree besides other plants, within its confines we have a huge well and I was told that had more than 150 years of existence, have been quenching the thirst of many generations of two families. one my maternal uncle's family other is their cousins, It had a railway track on the top of the wall fitted with a pully through which they used to draw water. At the end of this back yard is the toilet with no pipes or waterline attached to it. People who want to ease out should carry water on a bucket and all the human waste are driven to the nearby plantation which used to act as a best fertilizer.
I had forgotten to mention about the room right above the drawing room and Thinni, which is quite a huge size had large windows through which I could see Seetharkund hills, during wintery days as the sun rises up ,we could have an panoramic view of the hills, and at times, I had personally sighted waterfall engulfing through two tiny routes, jumping and dancing which gives out vivid colors’ at different times of the day.
One day as I could not catch sleep, I got up went to the first floor room and opened the window it was almost the twilight hours I lit a cigarette and stood there at 6 o clock, I witnessed something amazing as sun started spreading its radiance on the hills, there by lighting it with red and yellow lights on a controlled speed as sun spread throughout the hills, it was spectacular sight that I could ever see.
I have also witnessed during monsoon season, the Sun light passing through the watery prism creating rainbow images on the hills. For me the Kollongode hills atop this Eastern village are quite formidable both in size and structure.
As I was jobless during that period except for reading news paper and going out for a smoke or sometimes with a Tailor Saleem who had by that time was my only friend, while I did not have anything in common with him, but he was of my age and this aspect ,removes the all the barriers of class and creed. His shop became my den especially during afternoons and evenings. The rest of the time which was in plenty and difficult to pass.
One gloomy afternoon I happened to think about my childhood years in this house in 1967, that was the time when riches were aplenty, my grandfather had cloth shop, Ration shop and they were also distributor for Hindustan livers soaps. I was told they had farms too, I did have my own memory on this as such I was trying to refresh my memory when I was idle.
Here I would like to quote from my Autobiographical venture the” Retrospection”.
“THOUGHTS REFLECT, MIND SPEAKS , MEMORIES COMES BACK AFTER AGES AS WE TRAVERSE THROUGH THIS VAGAUE PARADOX CALLED LIFE”
This was true to that situation I was in, I could hear lots of noises within the house and suddenly I could see faces that were lost to the dustbins of history, I could see a towering personality dominating the house hold, Here I am referring to my Grandfather Mr.Guruvayurappan, shouting and yelling at people around him and asking them to do thing as per his direction, all members of the family was seemingly also ran, yet there was a lot of love and respect the people around him had for him. Here I would not like to confuse the reader in telling he was a hero of sort, in any family there will be someone whom others will regard as a role model or just by fear, or by sort of abstractions., to an extend some people known to him and looking for favors’ would have adored him and his qualities. I don’t call him the protagonist to this story, but there is a lot of reference of his rather brash approach to life
. I should not be misunderstood to be be-littling my grandparent but all that I would like to clarify he was just the opposite of what I would have seen in cities and in all probabilities I was too young to gauage a person of his stature. Incidentally I was too close to him as per the verson of others in the family. I was too young to relate to him but I still remember a Mundu & Kurta and a clean shaven head and his looks might have created a scare on others but to me he very loving Grandpa.
When I said my grandpa is not the protagonist in this story as the story continue's, you will be amazed to find my favorite playmate Kaku the little elephant on the lead role, I used to spend a lot of time feeding it, give him a bath and I used to wonder why his skin becomes so tight after taking bath, he would listen to all my dictates, when I tie him to the pillars of my home he would not move an inch. will sleep on when I make him sleep. I used to tie a thread around his necks and take him around the village as others used to see and comment about me and my baby elephant. But myKaku was not bothered about what others would say so was the case with me as well.
I used to frequent a house who used to sell sweetmeats in the village, it was called the Vadhyar’s house, he used to dish out delicious ladoos, jelabis and salted stuff like muruku etc., I was the regular visitor to his house, many a time I used to eat and leave the place without giving him a dime, he used to not insist on money with me. It was later I realized he used to take it from my uncle. I used to feed my baby elephant with his share of the sweets, but somehow he used to not like it at all. When I force feed him, he used to throw it out , most of the times the sweet used to fall on the village roads and gets mixed up on the fine sands.
THIS STORY WILL BE CONTINUED , FEEB BACK WILL HELP ME WRITE BETTER.