Lakshmi’s manjadi

When I started writing about those old holidays at Ammamma’s place in Tiruvilwamala, a whole lot of things came to my head… a million memories but there are some I remember as highlights.

– The mornings, when Ammamma would wake my brother and me up and chase us to the veranda with a toothbrush with paste on it. The water in a copper vessel. Both of us would keep brushing, bored till the spirit to compete in a toothpaste spitting championship would overtake us. I am sure if Ammamma noticed she would have asked us to stop 🙂 And I remember the end of mundu was the hand towel for me. Also remember her telling me to press my teeth hard so that my protruding front teeth would stop showing so much and I would become a pretty girl!

– The food… breakfast to mid morning snack (mangoes!) and lunch (I remember the big tall pappadum box the most) and so goes the list. Ammamma used to make this super tasty chicken (even though she is a vegetarian) and also an awesome masala curry.

– My brother Vinod, elder to me by four years, was a skinny child and I was a nice round healthy kid. So Ammamma would take ghee in a spoon, sprinkle it with sugar to make it attractive and chase Vinod to eat it. Most of the time he would run away and I would be right behind her, ever ready to gobble the yummy spoon of ghee! 🙂

– My favorite things were the trip to Tiruvilwamala downtown (Chungam) with Chinammu (the maid at home at that time) with a bunch of pocket money. I would end up buying all the girly things like dolls and bangles and fancy necklaces and paint.

– I remember once Vinod dreamt of a snake or something of the sort and Ayyapesan- the local farmhand- had to do the thing where he holds something in his palm, murmurs something and moves it around Vinod’s head and asks him to spit into his hand after every 3 rounds. I was so sure Vinod was having too much fun doing the spitting part!

– Once I got my leg stuck in one of the window grills and cried so hard till Ammamma came and rescued me.

– My high point on some days was to go with Chinammu to the pond where she would wash the clothes and I would return with some floating plants in a little copper bowl filled with water.

– Vinod once took an adventurous trip to Palakkad and went to a toy store and bought Scotland Yard (the board game). Since we needed 3 people to play this game, anyone who visited was forced to play with us. The servants, the neighbours, the occasional visitor- no one was spared!

– I remember Ammamma’s trunk call booking process which would get her so stressed out.

– The watchman who would keep scolding us because he could not sleep while we watched some Doordarshan in the night.

– Vinod’s expedition to graduate from being the regular lantern expert to the petromax guru:) He was so fond of lighting it!

– There was a Gopalakrishnan Nair who would run errands for Ammamma. Everytime he had to go to chungam, he would spend at least 15 minutes in front of a little tiny mirror combing his hair.

– Watching Chinammu grind the dosa mavu effortlessly in the afternoons.

– Wearing mylanchee/henna on my hands… Eating chakka ….over eating chakka… Opening the old chest in the living room and looking at all the old pictures of Veliachan (our late grandfather), his clothes, his letters…. Taking out all of Amma and Uma Valiamma’s old clothes from an old suitcase and trying them on… Playing pulinkuru on the front veranda table.

– Evenings when Ammamma would bring out the lamp calling out deepam deepam and then smearing bhasmam on my forehead.

– The smell of the white sugandharaj flowers from the shrub in the corner of the front garden and many such impressions that remain etched in my mind.”

Lakshmi Menon is a software engineer based in San Francisco.


One thought on “Lakshmi’s manjadi

  1. hai lakshmi….
    i just read ur was awesome and took me to my old memories too..but since i dont know how to express thru such nice language..let it remain in myself…keep on posting ..ok..all the best,


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