Thursday, December 11, 2008

A place called nowhere

Sometimes a memory is just isn't enough to fill the void.

The picture on the left is of Neduvalavu, the small compound where I spent the best years of my life. I've already written about my grandparents' home. But you can never talk enough about your home. Or can you?

The second house on the left with those steps and railing is the monstrosity that used to be our home. Infact it was a twin house; we shared walls with Chettiar achi. Chettiar thatha owned a dalda store I think. It looks all cemented but when we were growing up it was more a gravel and mud alley. Quite appropriate that our favourite game used to be 'Kall?/Manna?'[Stone?/Sand?] The other houses look the same since 20 years ago. Maybe a fresh coat of paint on some and lots of cobwebs and cracks on the others.

This picture on the right was called 'paLLaththu veedu' because you walked down into it. Everything about this house is unchanged from outside, except maybe now you can nolonger swing your legs from the thinnai. The colour is same, even the old electric box is still there. 

This is also the house where Amma spent few years of her childhood... so it is doubly sentimental. One summer vacation when I was 4 or 5, I danced my lame-ass version of bharatanatyam for the old ladies in this house. Another time [this time a different family had moved in] I stood in rapt attention watching house flies sniffing/eating Baygon Bug repellant and falling dead. Gaah! what is with childhood and fascination for death?

The spot in front of this house is where we played hopscotch most afternoons and evenings. We played cards and talked nonsense sitting on the thinnai. The ex-Thasildar's house is opposite this house. He had 2 grand daughters. In 2005 when I went with The Mr to look at this place one last time before my flight to USA, I met the younger sister. She recognised me and we exchanged 
stories by the anthimandarai plant. This year I learnt that she is no more. There was a history of mental illness in their family and the house remains dark :(

These steps led one to the small one room loft Sankari chithi lived in. the loft was on the roof of paLLaththu veedu. Monkeys used to come and sit on the parapet wall making the climb up a true adventure, for a 6 year old :) There was no ceiling fan and we, my cousins and I, spent many a sultry afternoon trying to make our own stories as the heat became unbearable. 

A huge drumstick tree used to stand in the yard by the steps. Amma recollects that's where they used to tie their cows when she was young. When we lived there, we collected resin from the drumstick tree and tried to use it as glue, precious commodity for trade and make-believe upma :)

This time around, the trip to Tirunelveli was more painful because of all the changes we, The Mr and I saw. Most of the places from our combined childhood had either disappeared altogether or undergone a complete facelift that there was nothing more to tie us to it. Of course, there still were many wonderful spots but chances are they too would be gone by the time we make our next visit.

I guess what bothers me most is that Mayakins never got to see the house I grew up in. Chances are she might make her own memories and they might not necessarily involve popsicles for 50p, bench tickets at Ratna talkies or kothu parotta stalls. I think it's time I stopped hoarding memories for the both of us...because sometimes memories just ain't enough!

P.S: Tomorrow is my Achi's bday and I couldn't have timed this any better.

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Anonymous Meena said...

Wonderful post PonC.. Took me back to my childhood days in Karimanicka perumal street.

I still remember the days when I used to feed the monkeys with pottu kadalai through the rails. Nowadays with all the new buildings and less trees dont see any monkeys.

Am waiting for my next Tvl trip.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Jira said...

An award is waiting for you in my blog!

11:26 AM  
Blogger Ramya said...

very well written ponc! totally totally took me back in time.. the way the world is changing is pretty sad.. and it is too bad we didnt have digital cameras then to click pictures of random things that later become profound memories..

12:09 PM  

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