Letter to my Nephew

Dear Shyam,

Someday, you will be big enough to read this and feel proud of the family you were born into. We are no nation builders, we have had no prime ministers or presidents in our family. For all that you know, centuries will pass before you will read about any of us in history books. But you know what, we have been just as much loved by the creator. Our temple gods have protected us all through the ages and watched over us through the ages. We have had our ups and downs, but we have lived on:-) I have tried to capture our origins up to about 8 preceding generations in the family tree. Ask your mother to share the link with you.

You will agree with me, your mother is a very special woman. Stronger than steel, level headed, outgoing and loving. Also, I know no other person, living or dead, who could manage your father up to whatever degree she can. Every time I think of your mother, I am reminded of her grandmother, your great grand mother, Gauriamma. She was a special woman as well. In fact, the women in your family were all very powerful in their own ways. They independently managed great troubles and challenges in life, but ensured that their children grew up strong and adept at facing life's troubles. One of the reasons why the women in our family were probably more stronger than men is because until my immediate past generation, the nair society was essentially matrilineal. Women lived longer and managed the affairs of the estate better.

Gauriamma was greatly respected, feared, admired, loved and hated in our huge family. She was the eldest of five siblings and had all the pompous show off reminiscent from the time your family controlled vast tracts of land in Tiruvalla. She was a brilliant administrator, agriculturist, story teller and also a loving grand mother. Her power and influence on for of her grand children, I Rajani, Raji and Renjini were such that we are yet to come to terms with her death at the age of 87 some three years ago. We expected her to live forever. When she died, some 800 people descended to wish their last goodbyes to her. Such was her power.

Your mother and both your maternal aunts retain a bit of Gauriamma in them. They are very powerful women. When you grow up and take a wife, ensure that you allow them the space to grow and also ensure that they retain their independent identity. For when you run through rough weather, you need good company to see you through lives ups and downs. If you do so, I am sure that if it is a girl child you have, you will have Gauri blessing your life, just as she blessed ours.

Happy growing up.

Return to Innocence

My earliest memories are of sitting on a jackfruit tree and eating the fruit. My youngest sister would be hollering down there asking for her fair share of the fruit. The tree belonged to a relative of mine who himself was waiting for this particular jackfruit to ripen a little more. We finished it off without getting caught! 

When I was at college doing my English, there used to be panineer champa trees right next to the English department. Atleast twice a week, I used to be right on top of these trees, and there used to be an elaborate distribution network below. The fruits used to reach right up to the vice principal, Rev. Punchayil.

I and about six of my cousins (age range was from 8 to 21) would go out into the paddy fields in the night with Cadnica torches and hurricane lamps. We used to catch some 40 large green frogs and five or six cat fishes. Late into night, this group would return, divide the catch and have a great time next day with fried frogs and fish curry.

This was my growing up. Lots of open spaces, trees, paddy fields and pure fun. And then came higher salaries, with them inflation and cluttered spaces. I have more money, more things to buy but very little time...and very little space. The air I breath needs an ozone aircon to purify it. Someday, our kids will read about villages, paddy fields and guava trees in story books. Who would believe what they read in story books?

You will never know

We are capable of great role plays. A couple of minutes before someone slits her veins, she will laugh and sing with you. Even when we are on the verge of losing everything we ever had, we can steal a minute to relish a burger!

Our ability to silently suffer injustice will confound even our creator. Some lives begin and end without having lived at all.

Buzz

You have to be in this place to actually believe what I am going to write. It is so downright surprising and unnerving that every time I think about it, I end up laughing.

I had just spent a night in Patna. I woke up at about 5.30 am with an eerie feeling of being watched. Maybe the window was open and someone was snooping on my balding mane, you never know these days! With half open eyes I tried looking through the mosquito net. Something was blocking my view. I shifted a little to the left and looked out again. Whatever was blocking my vision moved with me! It was not full light yet and I got scared. I sat up on the bed with a start. One hundred thousand mosquitoes divided into batches, one set moved to where my head was and the other set remained buzzing close to where my face was.

I have never seen so many mosquitoes together in my life. They made me feel like a super star. Only, it was not my autograph they were after ;-)

The secret of the waves

It is said, what the sea bestows, the sea reclaims.
There is nothing that is permanently mine
There will be nothing in my entire life that I will own entirely and for all times. One day I will be too old for my frame to manage, and I will move on.
The little love that I feel for you today will fade tomorrow. There will be other lovers other affairs and a lot many more of heart breaks. Everything that has a beginning has an end. Don't hold on to me, I am ever changing. I won't stop by forever, I will move on.

Nicotine

I can snuff you out Like a cigarette butt But the smoke that gets into my eyes And the nicotine that stains my heart Will eventuall...