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Grand ma, feel sad, you’ll go away soon’

‘Why worry about the winter tomorrow instead of enjoying the Sunshine now, my child ?’

‘Worried that they will pluck and dry you in the sun’

‘Do I stand here holding an umbrella?’

‘And you’ll vanish for ever, as part of a food item’

‘My child, you’re seeing only the negative side. Imagine the sight of hundreds of our families originating from the seeds I spread on the soil’

‘And if that doesn’t happen? Say, you’re straight away ground and made a part of chutney for idli?’

‘Iddlie sans chutney is insipid. Cast away your negative thoughts and follow me, when your turns come and make others life tasty, flavored and enjoyable ‘ 

Pc Nikhil Shivam Perinkulam 

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Regrets

With Dr. Vidhya, my Ambikuttan Athan’s grand daughter, who was with us in Baltimore for a short holiday.

When she called me for eating, once, twice, thrice, my thoughts flew back beyond oceans, beyond several decades to our Olavakkode house, when as a kid, I was fed by her grand pa, pleading, begging, ‘muthanna, chappiduda—-‘, 

No, I refused to eat. He didn’t scold me, slap me or threaten , ‘ummachi kannai kuthum’. 

He didn’t.  I remember so well .

I repeated my arrogant behavior when, during a college vacation, I bicycled my way to Puducode, to meet him. After spending a night, when I was about to return, he gave me a new veshti. I refused. He pleaded,’don’t wear the same cloth you had last night’ . He begged me to accept a veshti, a new one , with fresh smell from the Mill.  No, I didn’t heed.  My wrong conviction that I shouldn’t accept any gift from anyone, even from a very close relative made me blind, made my heart granite like. Or was it the unlimited arrogance of a college student? 

Many decades passed through, in between like the scenes we see from a moving railway compartment. 

The T shirt I was wearing while clicking this picture was gifted by my eldest nephew which I collected and wore proudly and told everyone here that it was a gift from Suresh. Today being his wedding anniversary, I wanted him me wearing his gift and tried to contact him through FaceTime

A millionth of the present common sense and courtesy, had I possessed, decades ago, I wouldn’t have hurt and damaged irreparably, a most affectionate, kind heart ! 

 

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And above all

Hh

 

I’m in a totally worry-free,  relaxed mood while with my children in USA , for many reasons:

1. The first and foremost is the feeling that I’m in the correct place, where Parents of my age should be. 

2. I see their mother in my children and recall  their childhood days in my grandchildren.

3. I can live with the confidence that if I fall there will be someone to lift me up.  My brother Vicha is too fragile to handle me. I’m assured of good medical aid and excellent personal support as and when needed. 

  4. I need not worry about my food /drinks / clothings. I get the food I want and my daughter/ daughters in law does everything includng making my bed and also keep a strict vigil not only on my food habits but on other habits too, the old people are likely, to remember and vainly attempt to repeat! 😁😁

3. The house will be active most of the time with young men and young women and children, at times with guests too, remembering my good old days when my wife was alive. 

4. I need not worry from morning to evening whether the gates are left open by the servant women or tenants or dogs or cows or beggars or veg and fruit hawkers. 

5. I need not keep in mind the due dates for receipts and payments.

6.I can go to bathroom or do pooja without worrying whether the courier guy, postman electrician or plumber will press  the call bell or enter through the side door and carry away my iPhone or such small possessions (I lost two cell phones ) 

7. I need not rush out of the toilet fearing whether  the sound I heard was due to the fall of coconut from the tree or that of my brother from his chair or bed. 

8. When I am with youngsters , I feel that I’m not really that old as my pension book shows .

9. My grandchildren keep pooja idols and other items in proper places and I have to close my eyes and think of God or about my past adventures. In Hyderabad, my landline would ring at least half a dozen times, most of those wrong calls and the rest right calls for a wrong purpose! 

And above all, I need not answer a dozen questions everyday from the obese lady in the opposite house enquiring what was the name of the lady who came in and went out of my house and why she came and whether she was married or unmarried!😄😄😄

 

 

 

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Fall of a tall tree

Farewell to another sweet coconut tree of my Olavakkode origin! 

A relationship of 40 years blown off!

Yes, I had to cut another coconut tree, as it started playing havoc not only within the compound  but also extending its head towards the road. It was a painful job, as I had brought the seed of a very sweet variety from Olavakkode.  Every time the axe struck the tree, the suffering was mine. I thought, it is OK, let me suffer now but not be a cause for the suffering of others.

Relationships, however strong they are, has to be severed, when it starts hurting us and others. 

Sentiments apart, the trees I developed long ago, have become liabilities now as many houses have come up in the surrounding areas and naturally no neighbor will keep quiet when a seed or branch  falls on their head or on their house, however friendly they are towards me. 

There is a belief that coconut tree doesn’t hurt others and my experience too is not otherwise. 

Old people, except good souls like me, don’t spend the entire night in sleep, especially when  they are in pairs. Yadayya  and Yadamma, both retired as professors, stay behind my backside compound wall. On the recent Pornami, full moon night, they developed instant intimacy and sneaked out for a stroll in the Central Park close by. A branch from my coconut tree fell very close to them, making a loud sound which woke up their son. He was shocked to see his parents trying to open the gate..

‘Where to at this midnight?’ enquired the anxious son.

‘To bathroom’,  replied the dad.

‘Yes, my son, I’m taking him to bathroom’, replied the mom. 

‘But, bathroom is inside the house!’, exclaimed the son. He was right ! 

Hearing the noise, came out the daughter in law and yelled,

‘Ayyo, ayyo! They both have Alzheimer’s disease. Rush them to an old age home’

The son consoled her, ‘wait, my angel! Let the night pass on’. He was right again!

The professor gave a strong kick to his wife and yelled,

‘See where your midnight romance is leading us – certainly not to the Harithavanam Central Park’

The professor garu too was right. 

 .

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My NIN

Visit to NIN, is like visiting a place of worship for me.  The long gap of a quarter of a century appears to be as little as a week-end that I was away from there. It was in its premises, in the B21 quarters that my wife entered  as a newly wedded girl, my first two children  were born and started going to schools. My father’s body was carried to the funeral ground through the same exit gate I’m facing in the picture.  Attending work was never a bore for me. In fact, I looked forward for that everyday. Holidays were plenty. Home was at a walking distance. Used to go for lunch and take a mini nap too! Plenty of friends and guests used to visit our home and during week ends, senior scientists used to gather in my house for playing cards. At times, the session started at Friday night used to end only on Monday morning. My wife never grumbled to feed my colleagues. 

My whole family is indebted to NIN and we are still reaping the benefits. 

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No worries about tomorrow, no regrets about yesterday

While alone at my Habsiguda house, looking at the blank  high ceiling, I think about my active days and nights spent with the youngsters and  grand children of the family in USA.  

-not always, at times.

While in USA, I think about my Hyderabad house, whether someone has plucked the flowers or picked the coconut seeds or mangoes fallen from my trees or has the tenants left the water pipe opened or has a peruchazhi or bandicoot entered into the drain channel blocking it? Etc, etc. 

Worthless thoughts , but that is the nature of human mind!

‘Is it not the ge for you to withdraw from the world?’, asked a friend.

Withdraw from the world and go where.?

My family is my world! My house, my well, my trees and the three gates are my world!

‘I will give you a tulsimala. Sit in a corner  and meditatae’, suggested another friend.

I will give you a dozen malas , tulsi, rudraksham, spadikam.

I don’t need any rosary for meditation.  Meditation for me is getting up from the bed at odd hours and reciting :

“anor aniyan mahato mahiyan

atmasya jantor nihito guhayam

tam akratuh pasyati vita-soko

dhatuh prasadan mahimanam atmanah”

and forgetting myself.

Meditation for me, is singing aloud, without bothering whether I’m at home or in a bus stand 

‘Shivudano, Maadhavudano, KamalA

Bhavudano, Parabhramano nin-

Evarani ———‘

I enjoy my own company when I’m alone, though thoughts about my people and property intrude and try to disturb. 

That is OK. I’m not a Jnani or a Rishi. I’m a simple man,

with no worries about tomorrow and no regrets about yesterday. 

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Thorthumundu

Thorthumudu, close to chest companion!

Thorthumundu is a Palakkadan sadhu, innocent like me. In the olden days it was closer to the body than one’s wife- that was what I heard from elders (telling lies was a sin for them!) Almost everywhere, Palakkadans used to enter just with a ‘thundu’ on their shoulder, even to cinema ‘kottais’, (theaters) or railway stations. It was a status symbol! 

Thorthumundus are available in 2/3 lengths and with borders in 2/3 colors, though black border is the choice of many.

While starting long distance walks or getting ready for important activities, my father used to tie it around his head and look majestic! I remember my yAtra as a child on his turbaned- head, crossing the Kalpathy river, to watch the car festival.

Malayalee women too used thorthumundu to cover their chest, when they were wearing only mundu and not sari. 

Thanks to my good hearted daughters in law, I have plenty of clothes, different type, suited to different climates and different occasions. However, while in India, my constant companion, close to my heart, is thorthumundu, during summer. When temperature shoots up,  I dip it in water, squeeze and then cover my chest. Oh, paramasukham

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Filling the  Vishukkani coconut halves with rice and tuwardal, was a ‘thekkan sampradayam’ practice in the southern part of Kerala introduced by my wife. She used to keep a small stick of turmeric too, which I didn’t do for the simple reason that there is not a single one at home at present. There was a time when they were available in plenty as it was a part of thamboolam given to married women when they used to visit us. Nowadays, no married or unmarried women visit us, except my Meenasister who brings some food items often. Another sister is not in Hyderabad and I’m waiting with my Vishukaineetam for her, when  she is expected back from USA soon. 

Last year, there were a few turmeric plants in my tulsimadam, and the green little ones were helpful to me for my Sankranthi offer of Pongal to Sun God, which I used to perform in the open area, before my house. Now, in their place an alamaram, peepul tree is coming up. At the foot of the abode for tulsi, a kariapaakku or curry leaves plant is coming up. Both have chosen wrong places or without their knowledge and permission, they were destined to be born there. It happens in the case of humans too. Some are born in the wombs not meant for them, but they get adjusted while growing. I had a brilliant colleague, a Scientist, who told me that his dad was a drunkard and when he was a kid, threw him into a ditch, while not in his senses. The boy survived the calamity, grew to gain a doctorate in Science.  The soil of birth is an important part in the growth but in some cases trees do grow well and reach the sky, due to other factors. 

I’m not comfortable to disturb the plants who have taken refuge in my tulsimadam, but what is the alternative ? 

Nowadays, boys and girls, who dislike their connecting link, break the link easily and seek other links. No problem .

The world is full of thamasha for others but not so for those involved. Some silently suffer; some seek refuge in the Facebook or mobile phones😝

Hara,Haro, Hara! Some go to Pazhani or Tirupati and get their head shaved off. One of my friends, a graduate in engineering, who hasn’t got a job despite trying for the past 6 months was seen his head shaved off yesterday.

‘Manjipani chesiyavu’, I told him. U did a good job

‘How did you know that I went to Tirupathi?’

He enquired.

I’m not surprised that he didn’t find a job! An young Telugu man standing before me, one fine morning, with completely shaven head asking me, ‘how I knew that he had been to Tirupati😭?

I’m sure Govinda will get him a good job.

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Thought waves

When you grow old, you learn many lessons-

One I learned- I can’t correct the world,

I can’t correct my own children 

I can’t correct even my grandchildren ‘s home work

But I can do a great thing:

I can correct myself! 

———————————-

My Christian friends

I never see the caste, creed or religion or race of my friends. Friends are friends, though FB friends belong to a separate category, as most of them remain unseen. 

In fact, during my childhood, being brought up in a Muslim dominated area, all our neighbors, except a couple of people were Muslims and they were like an extended family of ours. Our neighbor Hamsa’s children grew on my father’s lap and my friendship with his son Siddique continues. Last time, when I went Palakkad, I stopped my car to hand over a few packets of ‘then kai’, herbal seeds to him. He is one of the two Olavakkode friends who call me by my childhood pet name, ‘Appu’. The other friend is Kamalam, our neighbor and my sisters’s playmate whom I met in New Jersey after a gap of fifty years. 

There were not many Christian families in our area and even during my school education, didn’t have many Christian friends- one person I remember was from Trichur, an egg supplier, who used to entertain me with his flock of ducks, in hundreds. He used to drive them into post -harvest paddy fields filled with rainwater and it was a pleasure to see the white birds swim , though their smell was oppressive. His name was Vargheese. 

C  M Jacob, whom I affectionately call Chakku, my long term colleague and bachelor roommate continues to be my best  Christian friend, though he is a nam-ke- vasthe Nasrani.

 He joined my field unit at Trichur in October 

1959, three months after I joined and  I remember his pose then before me, tall, immaculately dressed in white, neatly combed hair, soft spoken. We travelled together to Hyderabad, our maiden journey outside Kerala and lived in the same hotel for a few days before shifting to Panchavati, our bachelor palace. He remains a bachelor till now at 81,  and going by his nature, is unlikely  to find a Mary or Maria as a playmate, in the near future. I don’t talk about far future.

He is amazingly a simple creature, can’t make his coffee and walks to the next restaurant for food, though his health is not in the desired level . A simple and truthful man, though don’t know whether he ever visited a church for prayers. Matters little. 

Happy Christmas to you Chakku. Continue to remain happily till Jesus calls you up for His company.  He needs good guys like you.

I had another colleague and room mate, a much smarter guy, C M manual, whom we called Manachan, who left NIN to join Air India, married an Anglo indian girl, retired as Airport Station Director and joined Jesus to teach him how to love girls and live happily. He was a jolly good fellow, who too never visited a Church till he married. 

At NIN , I had plenty of Christian friends, a few migrated from Connor, like me and Chakku. Most of them have already joined their Yesunathar.

Ultimately what counts is whether you are a good human being or not. Fortunately world is still rich with them.

——————————————————————

When my cousin Ramki sent me this old family group of my mother’s siblings with their families, the head-cover patti, captured my eyes first, as I used to enjoy feeling her head with my hands appreciating its softness! She was the elder sister to my mother, whom we called Bhavani Periammai, after the river bank near Erode where she stayed when I was a kid. She was the last in our family to have shaven her head on becoming a widow. Though orthodox to the core, she was jovial and used to entertain me with her Thiruvathirakali dance and educate me with Samskritham hymns. Her body movements and claps while teaching me,

‘VeeravirAdakumAra vibho!’ dance, is fresh in my mind.

I remember her, every time, Shabhari express crosses  Erode junction. on my way to Palakkad.

She lived at Kanchi for a few years and was an ardent disciple of the Sage of Kanchi. She took me to Periyava and proudly proclaimed about my proficiency in Soundaryalahari and on AchArya’s advice I recited a slokam. . I had a habit of reciting loudly and despite Periammai ‘s prodding, I didn’t reduce my voice or speed.I used to move my body too like a pendulum while reciting and in total, it would have been a good Tamasha for the people around. Anyway, the Guru, blessed me placing his hand on my head. 

Recently while passing through the Kodambakkam Railway Station, I remembered her dish, Vathalkozhambu, which was unique in taste. I used to get down at that station and visit her as her house was close by and I liked her food. 

Last year when I went to Kalpathy Shivan koil, she came to my mind first . To spend Shivaratri night awake, she used to come with much preparation but slip into sound sleep soon aided by the cold river breeze.

I don’t remember when and how she passed away but it was peaceful death, I was told. What was important was she didn’t suffer putrasokam, as my mother had to and my first sister in under going. In all, she had a peaceful tenure in this world, though her family was living hand to mouth. Untimely that is important, I feel now, many living in luxuries have everything they want except peace of mind.’

 

 

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Shivaratri memories

Shivaratri memories 

On  Shivaratri, I remember two elders, my mother’s elder sister Bhavani periya ammai and Perinkulam Krishna vadhyar .

Periyammai, orthodox to the core used to prepare three days in advance for Shivaratri upavasam, sincerely do the fasting, Japam etc, manage to skip the afternoon nap, go to Kalpathy at night, with a grass mat in hand, wait patiently for the Kathakalakeshapam , enjoying the company of friends and unknowingly fall into sleep soon after the discourse started, encouraged by the cool wind from the Kalpathy river, transmitted by the big neem tree branches in the Kovilkundu, the site of the discourse in front of the Shiva Temple.

Like my father, Sri. Krishna vadhyar, was a Kathakali lover.  The Hemambika temple used to arrange Kathakali for nine nights, including the Shivaratri night, which I’m told is now reduced to three nights. Vadhyar used to come all the way from our village, have dinner with us and along with my father, go to Kallaikulankara Templ, enjoy the show whole night, have bath in the ponds next morning, worship in the temple and return. My father used to take me too and I remember our crossing the railway track and trek the hill to reach the other side, holding an indigenously made hand torch called choottu. Still fresh in memory the sparks from the hand torch moving around, in the darkness. So is the call for alms from an ‘untouchable’ Nayadi woman, standing far away, while we return the next morning. 

The unscrupulous builders have now completely demolished that natural hillock, just as they have molested the ever young Kalpathy river.