...obeying the voices in my head...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The House I called Home

A lot of things in life varying in significance are taken for granted. The belief that 'its' just there and would always be'. And later to come to know that there are forces at work which would would go against this inside belief might add a painful level of shock.

I just came to know a few days back that my dad's place at Kodungaloor(kerala) is gonna be locked up, and if it follows suit like my mom's old place...probably get demolished in the future. This was something that would never have come to my head when I was there. I usually go there on vacations to visit my relatives. This house was huge, there were like 5 rooms, a pond, a ground, a garden, a fountain, an outhouse, a well, a stable and had that typical big Kerala family house thing to it. For me it was like a sanctuary during my vacations.

I still remember sometimes when I used to go with mom I used to make a fuss that I wanted to go over to dad's place coz I didn't like it at mom's place where there was no one my age. It was just going to Kodungaloor to this house where each room was inhabited by one of my uncle's or aunt's. And to go there and be greeted by so many people of your family all together - wow!

I do agree that I'm not much into the joint family living thing and all but I guess during the vacations when I used to go there it felt really warm to be in presence of so many people. There was this whole cousins 'gang' thing, usually the 'behenlog'(sisters) used to sit in a room and discuss girly( my ignorance to their topics of interest made me choose this label) stuff and me and my bhailog(brothers) would be out playing cricket or badminton r something. The best part was that a few of my uncle's and my dad would also join us while playing, and that was really awesome. I always used to go during the vacations so everyone would be free at that time.

Sometimes in the morning all of the cousins would go to the pond just to play around in the water, had some really fun times there. I was dead scared of deep waters actually mainly coz I was not a swimmer, but it was really fun just splashing around, relaxing in the sun...etc. The whole 'attempts to swim' would make us all really hungry and so off we would run to the bathrooms to clean ourselves up and be the first to reach the dinner table. Its always rice n sambhar alongwith assorted spices n subzi's n stuff in Kerala, you can't expect domino's of course...but eating the typical 'Kerala-south Indian' food felt like heaven. Though I frankly admit there used to be times when I would get bored of the rice too, but it added the whole 'authenticity' of being 'in' Kerala. After dinner we would either be talkin, watchin TV, or takin a siesta.

The evening would start with 'tea-time', and so there would be some awesome ladoos, mysore paks and other sweets with tea n coffee. Munch munch and then straight to the ground for us 'guys'. Our play would end and we would join our sisters expecting some delightful conversation eventually being shooed off or being given 'the look'. So there would be this time frame where we(as in the bhailog) would be put to thought about what all stuff would they be talking about the whole vacation that kept them so busy. Hmmm... never found out. Sigh.

There always was a power cut from 8-9 P.M. there. So everyone of use would sit outside in the semi darkness with just the moonlight. All the bhailog and behenlog would finally get together and play all sorts of kiddie games like 'red letter', 'chor police', 'lock n key' blah blah...and I guess nobody would be conscious of their own age. The joy of being a kid again, Ahhh!

Nightime, it was dinner and zap off to sleep. People used to sleep pretty early there sometimes. But me and brothers would just wake up late talking about all ummmm....may I say 'manly' stuff. Really fun, especially when my brother would make up this whole story about a 'hot encounter' he had with this girl in class. I used to listen with my mouth wide open and believe all the crap. I never made my own story, I was really bad at it...more plainly speaking - I sucked. We would all try to stay up till the morning but we would quickly drop one by one to increment the sleeping casualty toll.

Years went on. People started growing. Some of the bhailog and behenlog were too mature to be with the kids now so they would be spotted more often with the aunts and uncles talking about more serious issues. The groups got smaller.

The marriage bug came in. One after the other people would leave off to somewhere else. Their membership to the whole 'gang' had expired. I always knew this would happen, but I never prepared myself for the change coz as dumb as I might have been I thought the people would still be the same after marriage. And thats not how it was. The gaps set in. They now had their own children to take care of. What would we talk about when we met, I barely knew any part of adult life. Though I do say there was a 'gap', but it was not a bad one as it may seem from the word...the warmth would still be there, we would talk about the 'old-days' as if we were all sexagenarians. But that feeling of being a 'care-free' child slowly slipped away. Responsibilities had now crept in...there were priorities to manage. And I was still somewhere figuring it out.
Families started clearing the big old house to go off and live alone in the small new one. People split up to places.

We grew up. The frequency of playing had considerably decreased. Being in the same room with some of the remnants of the 'gang' just turned out to be a vestigial procedure. Now there was just me,my sister, my other two cousin brothers and their sisters. All the brothers were of the same age...all the sisters - same age.

Last year, one of my sisters got married. She's in Australia now, happy. My other cousin sister would get married this December. My own sister, well...she would soon be haunted by the "Woman! Its time you got married." bug. Me and my brothers, the survivors (for the moment!!!).

Things are not same anymore. Thats life they say. Though through all this topsy turvy of a journey there is one common thing which we all shared that still exists - The house. The house where it all was. A representation of our memories, stored in the walls of this abode. Calling it a mere dwelling was a laugh. It means a lot more to me. And I probably couldn't bare to witness it evacuated and locked up. But that sometimes is that hardest part of life, swallow and move on. Accept the ways. It feels horrible but not many options to ponder on.

I would soon be going there. To bare witness to the splendor that was, that is. Its my home away from home.

And as everyone knows...there's no place like Home!


ash89 said...

thats a beautiful post. Very touching. Reminds me of my childhood. I guess these kiddie gangs have been a part of everyone's childhood.

ira said...

My family home is in TVM(the one that my grandfather made, not the ancestral home).
If you're more familiar with the place, then Shreekaryam.
I could relate with each n everything that you wrote about your home down south!
The huge house! All the cosine's who met there during the summer break!
The well behind the house!
The fields!
and the Load Shedding(power cuts!) from 8-9PM!
Thanks! for making those memories alive in me! :)

NRkey Menon said...

Thank you for the comment.
Well kiddie gang days are nice to look back and smile about.

Nice to know that you can relate to this stuff.
Shreekaryam? well it somehow does sound familiar but cant quite recall why.
Proud to be a mallu. :)

ira said...

same here!! :)
what do you do?

NRkey Menon said...

Well, third year computer engineering if thats what your question was aimed at.
Born in baroda, and been in ahmedabad since 2.

ira said...

Yup! Thats what I was asking. So you n Dagny know each other?
Drop into my blog?!! :)

zyschova said...

and nostalgia comes rushing in.. sadly its always been mumbai ki galliya for me :(

Dagny said...

I never had kiddie gangs

pratsm said...

The belief that 'its' just there and would always be':
I see it this way: Its still there, but it takes a different form.
To me an ancestoral home may be a ghost, albeit a friendly one who'll remind me of who I am and what my values are.
As you had written, ancestoral home is surely fun, and as you grow up, you'll see that its got all those values, character and traditions to it that gets passed
on to future generations: only if you care to pass it on.
I too felt the same pain when I saw my mom's house rot in its place, but then I made sense out of all this in this way; A house is like a person ....its got its birth and death, and most of all, a life.. potent enough to touch many of its inhabitants for generations to come. In a sense, we all need to be like the ancestoral house.

NRkey Menon said...

Thanks for the comment chi. And yes it makes so much sense, 'A house is like a person'...and through time you watch it grow old, but its something thats longer than its inhabitants and so symbolizes the constance thats present in this ever-changing life.