Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Of Uncles and Aunts- Part 2 Our Santa Claus : Kamalachettan

Did you write letters to Santa in childhood asking for gifts? 

When I was small, I would write letters to one person who made my wishes come true. Once in a while, in our little village, in our home, a handsome man with a mesmerizing smile would arrive carrying the gifts I had asked for. He didn't wear red nor did he come from the North Pole. 

The gift-bearer was my uncle, who worked in Saudi Arabia then and would be home on vacation once in two or three years. Even if he didn't come every year, he would send gifts to us through friends who were coming to Kerala. My father's ancestral home would smell divine during the days he came home. His arrival was nothing less than a celebration for us all. For sure, we would get new dresses, chocolates, and fascinating toys. 

The doll who would start crying when the pacifier was taken away, the plane which almost took off, Penguins that climbed stairs and jumped into slides, scented notepads, butterfly stickers... the things he brought were some of my most cherished toys. I would keep them safe and secure inside the cupboard to save them from my naughty, younger cousins who were experts at breaking my treasures. 
Seeing off Kamalachettan at the airport ...A trip for us kids to see Aeroplane in 1983

Because of him, I tasted the best chocolates in the world, used expensive perfumes, wore dreamy princess-like-dresses and also became acquainted with the latest technologies in the world. Karaoke cassette player with mike awakened the singers in us, VCRs and Hindi movie cassettes made us cousins fans of Bollywood movies. Then there was his vast audio cassette collection. I was introduced to songs by Pankaj Udhas, Lata Mangeshkar, Rafi and Kishore Kumar thanks to him. 

Kamalachettan with my son
It was only later in life that I realised that the gifts he lavished on us were bought with his hard-earned money which he could have saved for his own future. But for him, our happiness was uppermost. 
When he brought a wife home, our new aunty became our new favourite. While growing up, I always made a pit-stop at uncle's home on the way from the school where I would binge watch songs on VCR, eat snacks and play with my cousins. By the time I was in my teens, Uncle quit his job and settled back home. There were no more letters written, but our Santa Claus still remained the same benevolent man.

Still, he insists I eat lunch/dinner whenever I go there. When my father fell ill, he along with my elder uncle became our pillars of support. He was forever at our home talking to my father who had by then lost his memory. 

Whenever I feel down, I recollect those happy childhood days and my heart fills with gratitude.
Thank you, Kamalachetta for all that you have given me. Thanks for a million sweet memories.