Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Amidst the rubble...

21, Neduvalavu, Vellam Thangiya Pillaiyar Koil Street,
Tirunelveli Town.

I was sitting with her on our thinnai (verandah)as early as 6 AM,the cold cement not bothering us a bit. My two minutes with her... watching the sparrows pick the rice grains we left for them. Her eyes are dancing with joy. Our Little Goddess. Grandma walked out and picked her up. Time for the next ordeal - her breakfast.

The scrunching of gravel made me look up. She was moving her gigantic bulk towards us; a slow walk that accelerated my fall into the abyss. The abyss that would be mine once her insatiable hunger is fed. She smacked her lips in glee. I closed my eyes.

1983. "Puja Neram. Ellorum Vanga" (Puja time. Everyone assemble)
Little Pujari tied her towel-dhoti tightly, swept a glance over her audience and went back to her puja. Bells chimed, arthi lit, the devotees were moved, more at her 'adult act' dipped in innocence than at the ritual performed to perfection. Will that Little Pujari ever re-surface from within?
The steel cot by the huge lamp, the wooden ceiling with ornate carvings with the B&W wedding photos of grandma's 7 kids...the blank wall where i had my first 'home theatre' experience with Kumaresh anna's 'movie' with discarded film negatives, a mirror and a magnifying glass...

Her roar shook me up. I stood far from the crowd trying to ignore the drama playing in front of my eyes. But then when the play is about you, you can never escape...did i ever want to escape?
She lurched forward and her fangs dug deep. The shadow loomed large.

Rendankattu -- the second living room. a long corridor like room housing everything from the new TV, the old bench, the rusted trunks that came with Grandma on her wedding with all her beautiful silk sarees...the small sky light letting sun play with us as grandma shoved that Ginger lekiyam down our throats during summer...
The stairs on the side leading to Mama's room upstairs...the room where we are running to now to exchange secrets...
The far corner with those wooden ladder taking us to the attic...the huge pickle jars, the wooden horse bought for the first grandson- Kumaresh anna; the cobwebs covering a treasure long forgotten...

The pillars had gone. The pillars i clung to when we played 'Kalla-Manna?'(Stone-Sand?); the stone steps and the cement verandah, the sparrows and she...all had disappeared. She charged menacingly now. Little did she know what she was taking away.

"5 more minutes please?", i begged. Thalavai pumped water at the water pump while i stood underneath for my shower. A little midget inside a huge sink. Mama & Thatha by the stove, having dosas made by Athai; the door leading to the bath room i hated to go...the muduku by the house(small gully) to run through with our skirts held high and their trousers in one hand after our morning ablutions by the roadside. No shame, no game. Only giggles and laughter.

I adjusted my duppata. The metal dragon had left, leaving in her wake smoke and dust and a mound of mud that was once our home. Our Heaven.

The living room devoid of any life as she lay silently, eyes closed having an unheard conversation with an unseen Lord. Our Little Goddess. Why did she have to leave so soon? Didn't i sing sweetly? Were there not enough sparrows for her here?

The curtains were drawing closer. The play had shifted stages but i? I was rooted to the same spot. Time to move on but how? It took a few hours and a metal dragon to put to waste what years of smiles and tears had built...does a similar fate await my new stage?

I don't know. I don't have to know. Mine is just to act and His to direct. I walked slowly past the abyss...the bundle of treasure weighing me down...the treasure the dragon never found.

P.S: Dedicated to the 'movers and shakers' digging up the roads of Tirunleveli :)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow! im all excited coz im the first one to comment,but i also feel guilty and i want to leave the place for the first comment to sumone else who has something more sensible to say. This post was simple, yet complex in its own way since it had so much to do with ur emotions n i really like it.I guess trips back to yr native place isnt jus abt the trip n the people (and the yummy food ofcourse),it does so many other things tyu.
it sure shuts me up...
Lovely post.

6:34 AM  
Blogger Kumari said...

@Ammkuttz: This blog is an 'ode to lunacy' so dontya worry about anything and be ecstatic coz i am that ur the firsht one to comment :)
Yup, this post is just about my emotions...coz that home was for rent n we never saw it getting demolished. i just built the whole thing around those machines and the memories of my childhood from that house :)

I will miss Tirunelveli - the people, the smell, and the yummy food :)

And Thanks a LOT coz this post is special to me in many ways :)

7:22 AM  
Blogger Vignesh said...

I would imagine I would feel the same way, when the same fate confronts the house I grew up in, back in Chennai. I only wish I could translate them into words as nicely as you can :)

Its amazing how many memories are centered around that house... I don't fully remember a lot of the people, cousins, uncles and aunts, of whom, sometimes, the only memory I have, is with respect to the house as such - where they were standing, what they were doing in the house.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Sagnik Nandy said...

my mom was supposed to marry some zamindar and your post has brought back memories of a very funny incident - i owe my morning blog to you girl :)

12:31 PM  
Blogger Kumari said...

@Vig: I am sure you can do better when the moment arrives :) I know, sometimes i clearly remember the way they stood in a part.corner on a part. day ...sigh!

@Sagnik: You are always welcome for further resurrection of memories :)

11:04 PM  
Blogger Primalsoup said...

Very nice post. Konjum intellectual style, but nice and vividly done.

Tirunelveli eh? Hmmm... Now I ought to be careful about what I tell you...

Like it is often said, 'Tirunelveli kay, halwa vaa?!'


4:51 AM  
Blogger Kumari said...

@Soups: Gee thanks. ppl have called my posts many things but intellectual? Thanks so much *Widest Grin*
And i hope the vivid style was not a reference to the bad choice of colours :p

Why why why? I am not from Tirupachi to vessify 'aruval' at the slightest hint of insult :)

PPL from Tirunelveli are just like the halwa- Sweet :D

7:11 AM  
Blogger Rathish said...

A trifle late - but still very lovely :)

7:33 AM  
Blogger Kumari said...

@Rathish: Better late than never and when it is 'trouffle' sweet all the more welcome :)

7:54 AM  

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