As I look into the picture of the beautiful *manjadis spilling out of the bowl, I travel down my memory lane to my grandmother’s (ammamma) magnificent **nalukettu. If a journey to a grandma’s place was a vacation trip for many, it was where I lived my childhood to the fullest. The house was situated in the heart of Calicut city with a vast compound around. That was where I stayed with my parents and sister, held close to my beady-eyed grandmother’s warm bosom. Apart from attending school, it was a vacation through out the year- though I realize the fact only now, sitting in a corner of my Mumbai apartment typing away.
There were no manjadi trees in the compound, but a tree from the neighbouring compound showered the red corals into the southern corner of ours. As obvious, both of us did our share of running around in the compound among the coconut palms and the mango trees. Our tiny hands picked up the manjadi seeds but could never succeed in collecting them as we would lose all of them. There were so many manjadi seedlings in the compound which had leaves that looked like those of a goose berry tree or a tamarind tree. Are these trees siblings like us, I wondered! I wondered why those seeds, we scattered failed to grow into big trees over all those years. In my early childhood, bullocks were brought to the compound to plough the land and keep it free of weeds and wild trees. Now I realize, this could be the reason why no manjadi trees grew there. It should have been considered as a wild tree and totally unproductive to grow one.
There was a narrow pathway between the our compounds and the neighboring one, whose soil was studded with the manjadis. When we walked through the pathway, clinging to our grandfather’s fingers, we would often keep him waiting while we picked up the seeds, still not managing to keep any for more than a day. As child hood made way for adolescence, things were taken for granted and our free time was shared between books and television.
My encounter with manjadis materialized once again when we were visiting my father’s ancestral home in the suburbs of Calicut. My cousin, (chechi) had stringed them together using her sewing machine into a nice necklace. What a wonderful job! thought I. Back home, we studied, studied and studied and grew up fast. In the mean while we moved to a new house constructed on the same compound. The vast compound was broken into pieces and new boundaries separated the coconut tree family. New beautiful houses came up on all the pieces of land and my nalukettu kept a low profile and hid herself in their shadows.
Now in Mumbai, I feel rich and contended bringing those memories into my room. I visit my native place during the vacations and my son is more delighted than me. Unlike me, my son is a guest now at ‘his’ grandmothers place which is nothing similar to where I once played a host. There he goes to his “Kalari” (place where martial arts of Kerala is taught) every morning.
One morning on his way to the Kalari, something caught his attention and he bent down. I got irritated as he was delaying me and bent down to see what he was upto . I saw one or two manjadis in his tiny hands. My father who had accompanied us was also seen picking them up for him.
*manjadi – red seeds
**nalukettu- old houses in Kerala following the traditional architecture
I reside in Mumbai, and presently a home maker, interested in mathematics, drawing, reading, poetry and many other things.