Friday, November 8, 2013

Nostalgia... Two Grandmothers and a million memories

My cousin in front of my mother's Ancestral house before it was pulled down
 Today while browsing through Facebook, I came across this photo and in a flash I was buried under an avalanche of a million memories.
I have many many fond memories associated with this house. This was my mother’s house in village, which had stood alone amidst acres of mango groves and coconut trees. It has now been pulled down. Maybe a concrete mansion will come up in its place very soon.
I remember many family get-togethers there when Grandma was alive. What fun we used to have, when all the cousins who lived in various places came together there once in a year, on my Grandpa’s death Anniversary. Oh, there would be frequent squabbles between the elders, but we the children didn't care what they were talking and would be eagerly exchanging news, admiring each other’s dresses and ornaments while waiting for the sumptuous feast.
 On the verandah exactly behind where my cousin is standing, there used to be Grandma’s chair where every evening I found her  sitting, freshly bathed and reminiscing about good old days.

 Her curries were the very best and many evening meals I tasted there still have not found another to compare. Every now and then, I fondly remember those days when directly after school I used to run to Grandma’s place, mainly lured by her excellent food and stories from a foregone era. My parents both worked then and so in our house nobody would be there when I returned from school.
 My cousin Shanooj and I used to get many advices from her, which we mostly chose to ignore while we waited for her to serve food. Her salted mango was legendary. I still crave for it. And also her dal curry…Yummy.

 If one day I didn’t go, next day morning itself query will come through our maid Chandrimadhi, who was my Grandma’s neighbor.
I miss Grandma a lot. Grandma and her sister, who lived next door to her, were two of my favorites.

 Though they were sisters, they were poles apart  in everything. My Grandma was fair and chubby and always dressed elegantly and would be done with her household chores fast. Her sister, whom we fondly called Angittamma was thin, a little darker and would always be busy doing chores in her farm or her house compound dressed in her house clothes. In Angittamma’s place after you eat GIRLS should wash the plates. Grandma never allowed anyone to wash them be it a girl or boy. If I insisted she would scold me obscenely. 

 Grandma hated all technological advances and I remember she refused to touch the telephone. She used to shoo us away if we tried to woo her towards technology. She hated the television, but I do remember her hearing news on the radio.

Grandma’s sister, on the other hand, was completely modern and the first telephone connection in our area was in her house owing to the fact that she was a widow of an Indian National Army Pensioner.

I can’t forget the frequent squabbles that Grandma and Angittamma used to have regarding scientific innovations or the latest news during their evening get-together.

Grandma used to reject the news outright and brand it as being false. “Oh yeah...only that was left to happen,” she would say and would stoutly refuse to believe it... Then Angittamma will come in full attack mode describing what she had READ. She would then say that people needed the brain to come into terms with changes in the world which she (Grandma) sadly lacked. Grandma would wither her with a glare and the fight would move on to the next stage.
 (Grandma didn't know to read. She used to say proudly that she had  left school in the fourth standard as it was a total waste of her precious time. She made all her kids study though and her girls were the first in our village to land prestigious jobs.)

And then after a while they would ask me to intervene and say who was right. It is funny when I think about it now, but at that time I used to sweat a lot to bring about a cease-fire between the two. No matter how big the fight turned out to be, next day without fail Grandma would appear at Angittamma’s place. If not, Angittamma will make me run to check whether everything was fine with her. Though they both expressed their love for each other very rarely the sisters were one at heart.

 Now now... If they happened to see this post and understood what I have written both will have the same reaction..." This girl …She needs to be thoroughly flogged”

They died within one year after the other. Grandma’s sister passed away in 1997 after battling with Cancer in the intestine and Grandma passed away a year after. She was healthy till the last week of her death and always preferred to be independent. She had six kids who all loved her. But she lived alone in this house my Grandpa had built.

I used to go sometimes to give company to her during those days. I still remember how even when the thunder raged outside, we could sleep inside the central bedroom without hearing even a single sound. The attic and the wooden ceiling created a sound proof and cool atmosphere inside the room. I also remember the smell of the ayurvedic oil Grandma used to apply which kind of soothed the senses. An oil lamp will always be burning and before the sun rose Grandma would be up. After sunrise, we could never sleep unless we were deaf. Grandma would be showering us with expletives and threats. 

My mother used to tell me my Grandpa was a very short tempered person and used to even beat my Grandma. But in all my years with Grandma, I never even once heard her talk bad about him. She used to talk about the people she had helped to come up in life and would remember the happy days.

Thank You, Grandma and Angittamma for all those treasured memories. This house was a safe haven for me throughout my childhood. With it gone, I feel I have lost a part of my childhood.

15 comments:

  1. Thank You Harish. I think you too have such a granny at home.

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  2. Dear Preethi,
    When Nithin( the boy in the pic, my cousin) posted this photo in his facebook page, it blurred before my eyes in an instant, as emotion rolled up into tears (of crystalline memories)...
    We were so lucky to have Ammamma and Angittamma. . It is really what I call Lost-algia..algia in medicine ,means pain..and it is the pain when something precious is lost.. Even though the loss is irrepairable, the warmth of the time spent together with them is sufficient to pull you and me through..like the best curries and recipes they made, they moulded you and me , tried hard to make us THE BEST !!
    My memories with this home starts with Achachan .. In that verandah there used to be his arm chair made of cloth and wooden frame, Manoj making me fall almost everytime by asking me to sit in that after secretly removing the bar which holds the cloth in place,....... only Manoj, the privileged one , getting the chance to peal betel nut with the pen-knife of none other than Achachan, Ammamma listening and commenting on to All india radio ... watching flooded fields in front from that verandah.... really a flood of feelings...

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    Replies
    1. Yeah...Each of us have different set of memories associated with this house. Unfortunately I don't have any memory of Achachan. For me he was always the person who looked down at me from a framed photograph under which a light was always lit. He passed away I think when I was just a one and a half years old.

      But the memories are the best I have of my childhood. The ones that lights up the moment when they come visiting.

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  3. thank you preethiyechi ....,
    for your valuable memories ... :)
    ammamma orupadu ormakal paranhuthararund ...
    athupole ammammayude ammaye valare cheruthayirunnappol kanda ormayumund ...aa veedum ormakalum ennum nammalilundakatte ... :) :) :)

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    Replies
    1. Yes..Nithin... Memories are indeed valuable. We learn a lot from them and sometimes they become our strength.

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  4. good write up Preethi! So touching. !!!

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    1. Thank You Remya... Childhood memories are always the best.

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  5. Very nice read.
    It is difficult to erase such sweet memories.

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  6. Childhood memories are the real treasures! You just mentioned the salted mangoes, memories are just like the traditional eatables... As we chew them, they activate our taste buds... I recalled my childhood memories as I went on reading yours :)

    TC! Keep smiling :)

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  7. Such a lovely treat it is to have our grandparents around. I miss my muthachan and ammamma as much as you miss your two grandmothers. Also the memories of those old houses. So sad that they are all pulled down now.

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  8. Such a lovely treat it is to have our grandparents around. I miss my muthachan and ammamma as much as you miss your two grandmothers. Also the memories of those old houses. So sad that they are all pulled down now.

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  9. Nice to know about your grandmothers Preethi. I agree, we have a special attachment towards our grandmas. Even, I remember my childhood days in those old big houses, playing with cousins in backyard gardens and chitchatting and listening to the stories from my grand mother.

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  10. Photographs have a way of bringing back memories. You talking of your grandmother sitting in a chair on the veranda reminded me of my grandfather's old chair. Though he passed away before I was born, my grandma used to tell me of him, how he used to sit in it and read the paper and such. I've begun to forget some of her stories now though. I wonder what'll trigger a flashback next.

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