Deepa’s search for Manjadi

A few days back, I happened to go through a link that popped up on Anjali Menon’s wall – sharing one’s childhood memories. I was surprised and amazed by the response, more importantly the memories each one associated with their own. Surely we are nothing but a bunch of memories!

Now how could I resist writing on this? Childhood is one phase that I have always loved reveling about! Though for today, I will limit myself to just the manjadikkuru episodes in my rather eventful childhood days!

I found them huddled on my doorstep!
Well to begin with, I had those naughty prank filled years sandwiched between Kerala and Nagaland and Mumbai, and it was during one of those getaways from Nagaland that I first got acquainted with manjadikkuru.
I had to sit through a Malayalam school for a week’s time (my parents thought that would enlighten me), and among the 20 odd classmates, I should say manjadikkuru was like an (invisible) celebrity! It was a prized possession that they even disliked showing let alone sharing with!
One day on a walk through those kuchha roads, I got this tiny shiny red and black seed.By the time I reached home, I had managed a handful. You could well picture me smiling like a king who had conquered a kingdom. I showed it to my grandma very proudly, but Oh! I was in for a shock, for she said this was not manjadikkuru , it was kunnikkuru. Angry, I rushed out to the muddy road and threw all of them there. It lay there to be tumbled, scattered, flattened, transported!
Probably the next time I was home, my cousin was ready with a gift for me. It was a tiny red seed moulded into a beautiful shape. At last I had one of them right there in the valley of my palm! I kept staring at it, wondering, how it acquired this shape? With little time left, I had got on a vain pursuit to find the tree that bore these beautiful seeds!






Before leaving I was forced (as children usually are) for a visit to the village temple. The kodimaram , surrounded by a grill, had 1000s of my prized possession scattered all around. It had always been there. And it is only now that I notice! It is surprising- you don’t really start noticing things unless you are aware of it, or unless there is a story behind it! There I was, straining against the iron bars to get hold of a bunch of manjadikkuru. And there was Ma too, taking me by the ears for stealing the prized manjadikkuru from the temple complex!

Post 20 years….
The thirst to experience the real blobbed in my head again, and the thought of the long forgotten hunt for finding the Manjadikkuru tree surfaced (thanks to Ms.Menon’s movie)! I was on a 2 day visit to the pristine village of Kanjhangad and I made arrangements to spot one there. Unfortunately, with my temporary memory loss, I forgot about it until I reached home. So there I was, on my bed at 10 in the night, talking to my parents, when I suddenly remembered- the Manjadikkuru!
‘Okei, Pa do you know of any manjadikkuru tree nearby?’ Pa scratched his head, searched the realms of his brain and said, ‘oh yeah there was one near the kizhakketheile veedu near nammude swantham john achayan’s…. you don’t know john achayan, molly kutty’s…’Ma cut the conversation by piping in-mole deepe, it was felled years back…! End of conversation!
All these years I thought I was living in a village, and god there is no Manjadi here…!!!!
My friend from Kanjhangad while all ears to my complaint that he did not show me one, quipped in- there is one planted at Museum, or better still there is one at our college (oh I know they are part of an arboretum) But my dear, what I want is the magnificent tree in the midst of a village, children playing around, elders engaged in conversation, children and elders alike competing each other while gathering the red seeds… Oh how do I make you understand?

Heights of madness!
One of these days, back in Trivandrum, I even dreamt- I was travelling to Kattakkada (a friend lives there, and my fantasy prone brain has already visualized it as a place shining in the glory of a village) and found the tree, all robust, the branches, some looming high to touch the sky while some bending down knowingly, just so much that I could break away one of those pods containing the seeds!

‘I suppose I do have one unembarrassed passion. I want to know what it feels like to care about something passionately….’ Susan Orleans, Adaptations

Deepa Sasi

Based in Trivandrum, Deepa Sasi’s words about herself : : After so many years did I discover…photography and writing capture moments…and so when I aint architect-ing, they keep me occupied!”
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