I was fortunate this year too, to attend the car festival at Perinkulam, my native village. Hei, wait a minute. How do I say that Perinkulam is my native village? I was not born there, I did not grow there nor did I live there for more than a few days. The village name which was hibernating inside the shell of a single letter initial, stood up proudly and prominently, in my passport and from then on, I am known as Perinkulam, in my mails and other correspondence.
” Can I have your passport, Perinkulam?’ asks the official in the check -in counters of hotel and airports.
“My name is not that, it is my village ” I was about to tell him but instantly restrain my tongue.
” Meet senior Perinkulam”, friends of my children introduce me to others. It takes a few seconds for me to realize that it is me, who is being introduced.
Óh, Perinkulama ? Nanum Perinkulam than- I am also from Perinkulam” boasts a stranger in a cultural meet . I am amused at his camaraderie, as I recall how men of our two neighboring villages, total length not more than a furlong or two, quarrel on very petty issues.
“I am also from Perinkulam” writes a reader, ” and I like your stories” I send a reply thanking him, murmuring, “he likes my stories only because I am from his village! What a disgrace for my art!”
My children also are known as Perinkulams, though they hardly know that place.
“Look at your own name” I exhort them when they blame me about my occasional wandering in the pavilions of past. ” Your past is so prominently, unalterably projected there.” After some time I add, ” your children may never visit that village or it might be known by some other name when your grand children are born but they still will be known as Ṕerinkulams, though they might settle in the Mars or the Moon .¨.
Whatś in a name? ¨ asks Shakespeare, ẗhat which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” It will, no doubt. But, the moment I hear the word ŕose’ its fragrance and beauty spreads in my mind, which cannot happen with another name.
The procession of chariots, one behind the other, beautifully decorated with flowers, flags, sugarcane, coconuts and plantain bunches, ceremoniously drawn through the streets by hundreds of devotees, following the synchronized beat of the percussionists and pushed by the elephants, become all the more attractive when they cross the bank of the the big pond, called ‘Perinkulam’, through a ‘z’ shaped small stretch of land.The natural bend of the road, the pond on the back ground, the setting sun and the Siva temple in the center of the two villages make the procession glamorous.
“Ï am pulling the Godś vehicle!” I think for a moment and feel proud of my physical strength. The realism overtakes the false proud instantly, when I see around, hundreds of other hands too pulling the vehicle along with mine and an elephant too at the back to push the chariot! Several successes in life have brought that false prestige in me and more I think over the matter, I realise that it was all a combined effort -with a huge figure pushing from the back.
After the show was over, I retire to a corner of the temple, with none there except the God inside, and muse over the past. I pick up a handful of earth from the premises and asks myself, “how did I get emotionally attached to this soil, which did not give me birth, which did not feed me and which, in fact played no part in my development?.
My mind goes back to several years and I recall the story as told to me about the migration of my grand parents to that village. Having lost everything in life, wealth, children, status, health and honour, they landed in this village, full of rocks , accepting the gracious offer of an uncle to shelter them in a small mud house with four walls and many fruit trees around. The mud house has disappeared but that vacant land, which I can see from the temple, is still there, sheltering the Godś chariot, as a humble expression of gratitude to Navaneetha Krishanan, for the mercy showered on the progeny of the refugees who took shelter under His feet long ago..
That was practically the beginning of our known family history, as the earlier golden period of prosperity was forgotten for all practical purposes . I do not know when our ancestors migrated from Tamil Nadu but I am told that they were from a place called Vancheeyam because the first sons of all the branches of the clan, was named after that village deity, Vancheeswaran. My father did visit that place once in his life time and I am yet to do that.
Having lost his father when he was very young and no other means of livelihood, my father, migrated to Palakkad, to start a small business, with practically zero investment but with a monstrous mental acumen, courage and will power. It was that journey by walk, along with my mother and me, a six months old baby, that paved the way later, for the jet flying of his children and grand children.
so was my migration to Hyderabad, twenty years later, which led to the later relocation of my siblings which resulted subsequently, in their progenyś migration to west.Now most of the youngsters in the family are settled abroad.The forebears souls, I am sure, will rest in peace because their earthy descendants are having a square meal, which they themselves did lack for sometime. And for parents, that is the best news they crave to have, not what the children don, pant of panchagatcham.
. Human migration has been taking place, since long, due to various reasons, economic, socio- political, religious and many such , may be to the next village or city or to a far away country . Overcoming the obstructions of the oceans and mountains, they have been migrating and so are the birds, animals, seeds and thoughts.
My thoughts come back to the handful of soil and recall that my bare chested, bare footed ancestors wold have walked over this soil with almost a bare stomach, but always reciting the Vedic verses which invokes universal love and affection, sympathy for the suffering and support for the falling. Their ashes would have mingled with this soil and it still moist with their tears and sweat. The smell of sacred ash and saffron is still fresh in the handful of material I have.
“Forget the past; live in the present” I read every where But how?
How do I forget my Hyderabad house, “Anantha Jyothy”, the cradle of our dreams and witness of our growth and disaster, within the four walls of which my children learned to crawl, struggled to get up and walk and stood proudly on their tiny legs? How I am to forget that soil, which is the same as the one I have in my hand, which nourished our family and also absorbed the ashes of my dear and near?
How am I forget the soil of Baltimore or Florida, which is the same as the one in my hand, which gave wings to my artistic aspiration , dormant for fifty years and made me to write stories, one of which stirred a good soul so intensely that he, poured his heart,in the following lines:
“At least in one of my future births I would like to be your student, your sibling, your whatever, in whatever manner I would like to be associated with you, may be a doormat in your house…
I salute you Sir, endaro mahanubavulu, andariki vandanamulu…
You have given me immense happiness today. Thank you from the pits of my heart”
It is worthwhile to spend a life time to give immense happiness to a soul, even for a moment.
The hands pulling the chariot here, are exclusively mine but a huge elephant, embodiment of wisdom and virtues, pushes from the back always and if my mind goes into hibernation and hands become too weak, the great pachyderm comes to the front, pulls the chariot and carry me on its head too.
Ebullient by emotional propelling, I stand before the sanctum and sing the first stanza from my own composition ¨ Namai nithyam Navaneetha Krishnam”.
“NANDADMAJAM NITHYAKISORA ROOPAM,
NAMAMI NITHYAM NAVANEETHA KRISHNAM”.
Immersed in the enchanting beauty of the ” ANANTHA,MAANANDA MAHAASAMUDRAM”, I then, sing from the immortal ‘Mukunda mala” of Kulasekhra Perumal;
‘Naham vandhe thava charnayor, dwantha madwantha hetho,
Kumbheepakam gurumapihare,tharakam napanethum.
Ramya rama mriduthanulatha nanthane napirandhum
Bhave, bhave, hridaya bhavane, bhavayeyam bhavantham”
Bhave, bhave hridaya bhavane bhavayeyam Bhavantham¨
The Ánantha Jyothy always shines in my heart, then how does it matter whether I am in Perinkulam or Baltimore?
Slowly, my mind dissolves into a big pool of divine compassion and grace and in that ¨Perinkulam´, floats on a lotus leaf, a lovely baby, holding his lotus-like leg with his lotus-like hand towards his lotus-like mouth, while I continue with my thapas for the birth of one more lotus bud to be placed at that Divine graciousness.
Can I have your passport, Perinkulam?’ asks the official in the check -in counter.
I hand him over the document without any hesitation.
April, 18 2009