Monthly Archives: November 2010
The train begins to slow down, it hoots and chugs into the station as my heart does a flip flop. On the left I see steps leading to the Church where it all began. It has a new coat of paint this time around, new wings have been constructed, the road has been tarred. I try hard to spot a familiar face or someone I may have met in the past. Ammachis clad in ‘chatta and mundu’ are a rare sight now. That generation of ammachis who fascinated me are being wiped out gradually. The train stops at the station hardly for five minutes and moves again. It picks up speed as I see the ‘landscapes of my childhood’ buzz past me. The railway gate, the fields, the house, the ‘vayanashala’ ( library)…the landmarks vanish and I’m left with nothing but another train of thoughts.
I step out of the auto, hold on tightly to my father as we walk towards our ancestral house. The passage is narrow with several small holes and I was afraid there were snakes in them. Amma tried several times to convince me there was nothing in those holes, but the few minutes of walking through that passage was like walking on fire. As soon as I reach the gate, I run down the sloping entrance, relieved. My grandfather would be seated on his easy chair, a glass of black tea beside him, peering over Malayala Manorama.
Tommy, my grandfather’s pet would bark at me, frustrated coz he’d be on a leash and would be deprived of my grandfather’s attention as long as I would be there. And I was damn scared of dogs. So the feeling of hatred was mutual between that canine and me ;).
I’m walking across the fields, with Grandpa carrying the ‘thoookupathram’ filled with black tea for the workers. Grandpa is giving instructions to the workers while the Chechis come and exchange pleasantries with me. About how tall I have grown, about why my ears weren’t pierced yet, about how thin I was becoming. The warmth and affection in their voices, the value of which I understood only years later.
The tractor is making contours on the land, a huge mass of mud is piled in a corner. My cousins and I, in our moments of madness and adventure decide to climb and slide on the pile of mud. Grandpa who was busy sharing a ‘beedi’ with one of the workers got the shock of his life seeing the three of us. Covered in red mud, top to bottom we looked like warriors returning from a battlefield. He drags the three of us and pushes us into a small stream in our backyard. This was more fun than rolling in the mud and we refused to come out of water. The only threat that worked on me was unleashing ‘Tommy’ and alas, I was out in a few seconds , followed by my partners in crime.
Our mothers were furious seeing our condition. We looked at Grandpa with pleading eyes. He said, “I’ll handle this. And we were off on our next expedition. ‘Peedika’ in our part of the world refers to a petty-shop. ‘Peedikayile Jose’ referred to the shopowner. In Thrissur slang, it became ‘Peediyele Jose’ and I thought it was P.D.L Jose! He bought Narangamuttayi ( lemon based boiled sweets) for us and his own quota of beedis.
Its getting dark. Ammachi starts yelling at everybody to come for the customary evening prayer. I’d be seated beside Grandpa, on the veranda ( the safe place for the ones who dozed off during the hour long prayers). Mostly, I’d fall asleep on his lap and not a soul would know ;). He’d nudge me to wake up when it was time for ‘wishing peace to each other’ ( better known as sthuthi kodukkal). Tradition follows that we’re supposed to wish people in the age-wise which made Grandpa the first in order.
Grandpa is out with his stick and torch. He’s doing a double check on whether the chicken coop is closed, whether there is enough water in the cattle pen, whether the motor shed is locked.
Its early in the morning and Grandpa is busy making my favorite breakfast, Pazham chuttathu.
We go on a walk, till the railway gate and watch the trains pass by. I count the number of compartments and he’d teach me how the numbers are named in Malayalam.
I’m sitting on one of the arms of easychair. I have my cousin’s slate board and chalk in hand supported against the parapet. Grandpa is holding my tiny fingers and teaching me the Malayalam Alphabet. I graduated to Thara, Para, Thala… and my Grandpa was a proud man.
Its time for us to return. That time around he gifted me a Malayalam Padavali. A book with a blue cover, with a picture of a parachute and a rainbow. When I kissed him goodbye, he had a glint of a tear in his eyes. He always does.
The train is becoming crowded now.Day commuters are filling up the space. People are competing for space. Some are standing. Crowded trains always remind me of that fateful night.
“Grandpa is not well, we need to go to Kerala”, one day Amma returned from office early in the afternoon. We packed our stuff in a jiffy and travelled in the crowded Island Express in the general compartment. We reached our hometown early in the morning. My uncle was at the station. I thought we were going to meet Grandpa in the hospital but drove straight home. The courtyard was filled with people. My grandpa lay there peacefully. The smell of chemicals, incense, flowers were making me heady. The photographer was clicking away those last moments which irritated me. Soon, the priest came. He recited some prayers and next thing I know, Grandpa is being carried away.
Few days later one evening, we all sat down to pray. There was nobody beside me on the veranda to wake me up when I fell asleep. It was time for giving ‘sthuthi’. I stood up, confused brought my hands together. It was always Grandpa who instructed me, whom to wish in which order.
From now on, I would be giving ‘sthuthi’ to his photo hung on the wall, the others instructed me.
EDIT: ‘Sthuthi’ kodukkal is NOT wishing peace but translates ‘glory to jesus’. It is a traditional custom in Xian families where we greet each other saying ‘eesho mishihaykk sthuthi ayirikkate’. Thank you Jose, the common man for pointing it out.
Until a few months ago, South Bangalore for me was a totally alien land to me. This was that part of Bangalore which had opened up to the globalization era, had nothing real world-istic left in it and was home to thousands of corporate dreams being realized. It was an alien land to me and in the few years I’ve been here I hardly visited this part of Bangalore and never imagined in my wildest dreams that someday, this is where I’ll be staying in days to come (at least for a few months).
A lucrative offer saw me move lock, stock and barrel to the very place I had scoffed at once upon a time. The sight of the huge buildings with the glass panes covering up everything that was inside, imposing structures that lacked soul, the crowds of people dressed up in formals neatly pressed at the same time who looked hard pressed for time, their ids dangling around their necks, the laptop cases slung over their drooping shoulders, huge apartments coming up in a desperate attempt to obstruct the view of the sky from below, ruthlessly speeding cars and bikes… Everything about this was mechanistic which left me wondering ,’Am I going to be a total misfit here ‘?
I lived in one of those calmer, peaceful typical ‘sarkaari quarters’ type area which had remained insulated in time and space to the ‘new age charm of B’lore’. And the move to this area where everything is a mad rush was quite overwhelming. It took time to acquiesce with the new life. (and I’d be lying if I said it was a smooth sail).
It’s the same learning process all over again. The same entangled web of human relationships, those concentric circles you need to create as barriers of entry to people in your life, the ‘when not to interfere phase’, the facade of ‘officialdom’ and finally to take everything with a pinch of salt, swallow bitter pills and then believe this is all a lesson to be learnt.
PS: I did try a hand at anon blogging for the umpteenth time meanwhile. Gave up. Period.
There is something disconcerting when life settles into a routine. Something about the certainty, the regularity, the familiarity of it all which makes me uncomfortable. Can’t help but I belong the species which get bored very very easily.
I wake up in the morning, sometimes to the sound of the Muezzin or sometimes hearing the scream of the pre-school kids. This is one of my favorite moments of the day. I get to see the break of dawn when I wake up early( ref: the Muezzin), watch the sky change its colours from orange to pink to a fresh blue and then bright daylight while I open my eyes at different intervals of time ( I sleep on and off then).
The pre-school kids are a noisy lot. But, its a pleasure to hear them squeal in excitement. There is some kid Rahul who seems to be hero among them all. So mostly I wake up to hear the kids screaming ‘Rahul, Rahul’.
After that its like my life is programmed, the routine nature of which repels me, but I have no way but move along with it. There are so many things which I’ve lost in ‘me’ and so many other things which I’ve gained. Fending for yourself, living independently does teach you a lot of things in life. Its way too different from the secure walls of a hostel where all you had to care about was ‘how to piss the nuns off’ and ‘yet evade getting into their bad books’.
There is a new found sense of freedom but I’m not yet ready to venture out there. That protective shell which I refuse to discard. I’m with a new set of people, people from diverse backgrounds and I’m still figuring my way around them.
There is something about the way people modulate their voices that I’ve been observing these days. And it speaks volumes. I guess I’m using those lessons on ‘tone judgment’ at the wrong place. But, still its experience that validates your gut instincts right?
Its time to take baby steps all over again. To let the thoughts flow and fit the words.
There was a time, when orkut was a big thing, when the profile had to be made attractive enough, when you had to stand out amongst the crowd and portray yourself as you wanted to the world to see you. Thus, I wrote the lines in the passions section : ‘ living life to its fullest and making it meaningful for others’. For a 19 year old then, it sounded quite a passionate statement. For the hours I spent reading up socio books and doing my bit of social work, the bird brain in me thought I’m doing something good for this world.
Now, I’m totally disillusioned about the meaning of life, forget about making it meaningful for others. Being concerned about people close to me ( the shit they went through) landed me in a situation where it became difficult to even acknowledge their presence. Meaningless friendships and relationships ensued, I do not know how many were genuinely concerned and for how many it was a matter of convenience. Even to this day, I haven’t understood what do inter-personal relationships hold for? There are people who I know, I can call up and talk to at any point of time, people who piss me off but I don’t have the heart to be rude to them, people whose intentions I misunderstand and people whom I’ve never understood at all. There are some who make me wish , If I could smash their heads :P. Surviving with them all without any hassles, counts right?
But is it ok to burn within, blame yourself for what others inflict upon you only coz you don’t have the guts/heart to displease them and tell them to get away from your life?
Pardon the emotional trash I’ve been churning out these days. But,there is something liberating about letting thoughts flow randomly in your head and putting down the entire process in words.
PS: Reading too much of Anjum Hassan is doing this to me I guess.
I don’t remember what madness had gotten into me when I decided to quit this blog. A week later and the itch to write something always crept up. Starting another blog seemed a painful process and reading through the archives made me realize a large part of my life is accounted here. Reading through the old pages, I cringe at my naivety, laugh at my stupidities and sometimes wonder ‘Did I really write this’?
Somewhere down the line, I’ve lost the soul in my ability to write. I admire some people’s ability to mince words, let it flow like a river, let the stream of thoughts develop and let words perfectly complete the picture. I try to do it too, but end up tapping the backspace key every other second. And nothing can be more depressing than hating every word of what you’ve written.
Meanwhile, I managed to complete my Masters’, got a job that gives me an excuse to think about ‘what to do with my life’ in the coming years, moved out of home and learnt a lot about life in general. Once upon a time life revolved around college, commute, friends and cribbing about the educational system and hating everything about this city. There was this permanent state of dissatisfaction… I was a fool to keep thinking what’s wrong with this world.
I guess there is something about heading closer the to the quarter life crisis. You learn to accept and move with the ways of the world( at least pretend to do so). Maybe coz you realize, you’ll end up waiting all your life for everything to fall in place. ( I’m not proud of this newfound piece of wisdom myself :P)
You tend to ramble on like this at ungodly hours, when you’ve had like a truly awesome week and weekend. At least its a sorry excuse to resume blogging 😛
Wishing I can express myself better in future…Adios