Maaveli varumbol…

It was 1.45 am when my friend took me to the bus stand. The next bus to Chennai was at 2, which didn’t turn up. The next bus was at 4.30 am. A two-and-a-half-hour wait at the deserted bus stand, with biting cold and mosquitoes testing my fever-hit physique. I could endure things worse than this, but couldn’t afford the prospects of staying back in Bangalore during Onam…
I still don’t know what got into my head. Maybe the growing up part had robbed the fervor for the festivity. Grandpa had passed away last December, maybe couln’t imagine an Onam without him. Life has taken us, the ‘kids’ of the family, to various places, maybe we were too busy to bother about pleasures of the yore. I decided that I won’t go home this time.
It didn’t take long to realise that I was wrong. I was turning restless. Then, my aunt called — an invitation to spend the eve of Onam at her place, in Vellore, five hours away from Bangalore. She was in no position to take a leave for Onam on Monday. My cousin in Chennai too was coming down. So I took the early-morning trip, braving the fever and the cold.

Still, I was restless. I wanted to type something for my blog, but coudn’t get the emotions together. Onam memories — extremely vivid — was flooding my mind like an avalanche.
Then, a call came from Kerala.
“We’re off to the temple. It’s only the two of us here,” said my sister.

Then I realised what Onam means to me — my village, my home, my dear and near. Painfully understanding that I am still a nostalgic, emotional fool, I put my thoughts in order.

Far away, they were putting the flowers in order.

Chandu Gopalakrishnan.

Chandu Gopalakrishnan is a business journalist currently working for the Bangalore edition of The Economic Times.
Read more of his writing on chandugopal.blogspot.com

Sreevidya’s Manjadi memories

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

Sreevidya Nambiar

I reside in Mumbai, and presently a home maker, interested in mathematics, drawing, reading,  poetry and many other things.

Anjali’s manjadi

How many folks out there have grown up outside India and remember going back on summer holiday to our tiny hometowns? The annual vacation which would be marked clearly on those Indian calendars hanging on foreign walls. Weeks in advance the shopping would be done- a gift for the second cousin, sweets for the nephews, medicinal oils and balms for the older uncles, a scent spray for the new couple. And finally the day would come to set out for the home shores.

I was a Gulf kid and our vacations were always during the Middle eastern summers which wonderfully coincided with the monsoon showers of Kerala, India. I believed then that the monsoon was the permanent season of Kerala! So green and different from the dusty dry landscapes my young eyes were used to. The glossy vines, rippling puddles, touch-me-not flowers, homemade ghee, wooden toys, narangamuttai, the colours, the textures and so much else… in two months one would try to absorb as much as possible and tuck it away someplace deep.

How deep?

Like the manjadi that we used to pick out of the wet soil, the little nuggets of memory have grown their roots into me. They throb every time I smell wet earth.

Back in Tanur, Malappuram

I got up depressed this morning, trying to fit plausible explanations to my ways of life; a North Indian friend of mine asked me about the movie ‘Manjadikuru’. Frankly speaking , I had lost touch with Malayalam films, so I browsed on the net and chanced upon the film’s blog; just loved it!

It brought tears to my otherwise parched eyes ; I went back many years into the past and spent some moments there .. It was divine. Thank you so much!
I will write on my past in the next few paragraphs.

My native place is Tanur. It is in the district of Malappuram. Some things about the place and people that will never fail to strike a chord in my heart …
The white sand (poozhi as we call it in Malayalam) which would be so cold in the night. I and my cousins would sit amongst the vast stretch of coconut trees in front of our ancestral home with our feet and hand tucked away in the sand. I can still feel the slightly damp, cold sand in my hands. We were terrified about ghosts but still loved to hear ghost stories. Some of my cousins, the gifted raconteurs that they were, would narrate stories which built up the tension in the air. The smaller ones would cling on to the bigger ones; the slightest of noise, the coconut leaves ruffling in the wind or the meowing of a cat in the distance; we would just run!! Back home, we would get restless as to what to do next.  Those were times when electricity in the night was a luxury and one of the distinct images that come to my mind is the incandescent bulb, barely able to light its own filament let alone give light to others. The men in the family would invariably be discussing politics which we kids never understood. The women will be in the kitchen preparing delicacies for the big family.

The monsoon too brings out indelible memories. The bunds that we prepared, in the hope of getting big fishes and how we would end up with the smallest of them; The brief reprieve during the incessant downpour when the water from the roof fell down forming small puddles in the sand; The paper boats, big and small , making their way through some of these puddles. It would be around ten o clock when grandfather would feel restless about the little ones not taking bath and getting wet in
the rain and he invariably made his point clear. The long bathing sessions that followed in the pond, splashing water on each other; We were a well knit unit ; there were about ten of us. We would use the coconut tree leaves to build houses; carefully designed with one or two rooms; the sincerity and the resourcefulness with which we did it was amazing; we just felt like it from our hearts; even the little ones chipped in with their contributions; Once the house was set, we would make tea in the house and invite grandmother and grandfather and other elders who would come and visit us.

There was certain innocence about those times; I just feel like clinging on to whatever memories that are left; those are my roots; I want to return to them time and again to recharge myself; but then I realize, those times were more about the people more than the place itself. There has been hardly any occasion in the recent years when all of us have been there together and even if there was i doubt the magic would have been reproduced.  The incandescent bulbs have been replaced by CFL lamps, the red tile roof has been replaced by concrete, TV news has replaced the regular gossip sessions…

Nipun

(Nipun is a graduate student at IIM Bangalore, married, has a kid, hails from Calicut)

Note from Administrator: Nipun emailed us this heartfelt note a while ago and it has inspired us to create such a blog. However we have not been able to trace Nipun and mails to his email id bounce back. So if anyone knows Nipun, please do send him this note and a Thank you from us!