I look forward to my Kerala trips now…
It is such a drastic change from my childhood days , where I would dread this annual summer migration to the South .Maybe it was because my Ugly duckling years made me extra sensitive to the jibes about my Malayalam , about my clothes , the general fastidiousness of the elders about what you could say , how loud you could laugh , where you could go and the like .
Of course I loved being at my Amumma’s . What fun those days used to be . For such a long time , I was the only child in that family , the only object of everybody’s affections..I could get whatever I wished for .Whatever I asked for would magically appear out of nowhere .My own parents being so strict , I could have never dreamed of ever getting away with my demands ..And what were my demands –Unlimited boxes of Saunf Mittai, of Chocolates , Of frooty …And how my Amumma would put so much more on the table much to my delight. Of how my favorite snacks , favorite food items would appear every day on the dining table . Of Lazy mornings stretching into languid afternoons doing nothing.Just nothing . Of guilt free indulgence , of guilt free demands ..
Life seemed so simple then .Small things like 1 small box of saunf mittai could bring such joy .I remember the day , I found the “Touch me not “Plants in our backyard . I just couldn’t get over how the little leaves folded and unfolded at my touch . I must have probably hunted down all the “touch me nots” In our parambu and subjected them to my various experiments !!! Of how , the well would excite me everytime and how the rough rope would scrape at my hands and how many times I had let go of the tugging rope & sent the bucket of water plunging back into the well after it turned out to far heavier than what I could pull…
Ammumma would get these huge jackfruits and they would be kept in the store adjacent to the kitchen. Every time I would passby , the wafting aroma of the jackfruit would make it so difficult for me to rein in my temptation . And I would keep asking my mother and my granma , if the jackfruit was ripe enough to be chopped .Once chopped I would simply devour the bulbs .Of the Chota amla , of which my amumma would keep many pickled bottles cos I loved it . Of how ammumma would make delectable fish curry that I could never have enough of . Of how she would tell me how precious and special I was & make me feel like I was the queen of the world and I could have whatever I could wish for .
I used to sleep also with ammumma .She had a particular affinity for Cuticura Talcum Powder . The fragrance of which even today distinctly reminds me of her .How can I forget the huge steel almirahs full of silk sarees and of steel utensils ..Everytime she would get her bunch of keys and open the almirah , I would wait in anticipation of what would come out of them . And of course there would always be a certain something for me ..Of how some afternoons , there would be these vendors who would come with assorted stuff like cotton maxis , underwear sets ,plastic bangles-malas and what not ..
I miss those days . Now of course things are so different . She is an invalid now and her memory is failing ..Things have changed . But for her I am still the little girl with a pure , clean heart ..Of course she is happy now that at least I dress and behave like a girl :) ..I sometimes have this strong urge to hold onto these memories and those happy times , but I find them slipping away through my hands like grains of sand ..
I have been often told that my acchamma & acchachan also loved me immensely . Unfortunately my acchamma passed away much before coherent memories could form..And my grandpa was never one to demonstrate his affections. Though I clearly remember how he would always come to the railway station to see us off . Of how in one of his sober moments after collecting his pension , he came straight to the railway station and handed me money to buy my bicycle .I feel I was blessed to have received so much love in my life . But unfortunately I took it for granted . I thought that It was in my right to expect love from everybody . And of course such expectations are bound to be met with disappointments too. If maybe I had not met with these disappointments, I may have never come to value their love.
Now when I go back to Kerala , for me its like returning to my roots . I love everything about Kerala , right from the aroma of the peculiar tea , of the food , the balmy humid weather, the temples ,”kattan chaya”..Everytime I go back its an affirmation for me that there are people who have loved me unconditionally & who still do , who look forward to my coming and to my happiness.