Reminiscing young, old days of my childhood and adolescence, today’s expedition with you by my side, is into my ancestral home where one would find vivacious edible fruit trees, aromatic herbs, sacred trees ,coconut plants of many varieties and what not…It was an extensive, vast expanse of land with an old ancestral house situated in the middle.
My surname itself is an indication of the fact that our’s was a Nair ‘Tharavadu.’ (ancetral house as it’s called by the natives) As it’s customary, its members invariably believed in its traditional , pious functioning. Kerala, ‘God’s Own Country,’ was literally owned by God, those days, anyone would say. The land’s heritage outrageously manifested its rich art and culture. The paddy fields spreading its heavy green blanket welcomed (not simple present, because most of them are converted into brick factories, during times) any visitor. I must mention you that Keralites are known for their hospitality too. Surrounding our land, we too had paddy fields.
People have the habit of getting up very early in the morning, bath immediately after brushing, leaving a lot of coconut oil on their hairs. Once you are done with that, without having a cup of tea, march to Temple, like a devout Hindu. We too were not different, my mother’s life is centered on such beliefs till today, without time’s imprint.
The season of mangoes and jack fruit brings festive mood to the owners of orchards. Let alone the owners, to the locality itself! Remember Keats when he said ‘how to load and bless’ in his Ode? Our orchard had many varieties of mango trees, one or two varieties reserved for pickles, another for cooking the famous ‘Mambazha Pulissery, ( a curry made out mango fruits) rest for distributing among the neighbours. Bravo! Keats aptly said it:
“Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?”
Waking up much earlier than the scheduled time was a regular practice then among households. With a torch in our hands, at 3 am, we, along with our mother encircled the huge mango trees, often thinking that we were too early than others to pick them up and then stunned to death to see neighbouring households too encircling them. Just that we were not the only owners, you know. After the initial fuming, if someone couldn’t collect as many as they needed, they divided it among themselves. Then revisit the trees before you start to school.
Rainy , thunderous afternoons with heavy winds whirling around gave us the feeling of an equatorial region, the same season. Hardly the clouds gathered in the sky, we got readied sacks together and with umbrellas, for namesake, ran to the orchard. Believe me, all the sacks used to be full, bringing fresh fragrance of fruits. My mother , again divided them to be distributed among relatives and neighbours. She, then called out them going near the fence, and gave it to them with a broad smile on her face after the initial enquiries about the well-being of all.
Well…those were the juicy, spicy times! All those trees are cut and removed after partition. And the sense of loss, is only rested in our minds!