Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A place called, Childhood

Today I was browsing through my sisters pictures. Both my elder sisters were in our native place for Vittai’s son Shamanth’s thread ceremony. Ofcourse, I and Vandu miss many such events now that we live far from India. The pictures captured them and kiddos having fun in beautiful konkan coastal area. It reminded me of our summer visits to those places.

My native place is Honnavar. I was born there at a small hospital that sits atop a hill. Honnavar lies on the coast of Arabian sea and on the banks of Sharavati river. It used to be seaport of British India. I remember that the mention of my little town in the history books had made me feel so proud.

We would go to native place every summer. Between the siblings of my parents we were atleast a dozen and counting kids. Early morning my grandma would lit up fire to heat the water for us all to take bath, then milk the cows. That smell of wood burning still lingers in my senses when I think about it. Feels like just yesterday when we would sometime wake up early and Aayi would ask me to go back to sleep so to rest some more and I would rather be awake and look at all the events unfolding in front of me. It feels like I was in a slow motion movie when I think about it. Everyone talking in soft voices not to wake up the little ones, soft chewing sound of the calf inside the house, call of the cow for its baby from outside, smell of breakfast and tea, somebody going to well to get water… Ummm.., I feel like I am in dreamland now!

Most of the evenings we would go to the beach to play. Even though it wasn’t the best of the beaches (coz mostly since it was a port there was lot of fisheries that would get their haul and sell) we loved playing in the sand, making sand castles, making ditches and covering them so others could fall into it.. We could go into water only from the other side to Kasargod beach, which would mean somebody should take around there on boat or drive around on bridge. Whenever we did go that side it was even more fun. By the time sun would set we would start walking back, so not to get scolding from everyone.

I remember days when I would tag along with my youngest aunt to her friends’ homes. Watching them I would always act as though I am one of them. I would tag along with my grandma to stores to buy things. When I was little older, I would walk alone to the store down the street for her. On those small streets where cyclist would come as though they own that road, moms would drag the kids away from trouble, ladies with nicely oiled and plated hair with flowers from the garden, girls with big colorful umbrellas, men walking hurriedly….. Our home compound entrance sat on a T-junction, so we could watch people whole day long if we sat outside on the side portico.

Can’t even start explaining the fun that we used to have at my mom’s native place Mirjan. Bang behind my grandpa’s house was a fort. Yes, a real fort. That time no one really cared about that and it was pretty much in shambles. About 15 yrs ago government has recognized it as national treasure and archeological dept sent over people to work on restoration. Now the fort looks much different from what it was before (for good though). The fort was always center of all our topics, wondering about the kings who lived there and how they might have vanished and if there were any ghosts living there. We would go there many a times looking for different kinds of fruits and flowers. There were times when I would have nightmares about it, but it was always my favorite place to visit.

One of the incidents I remember was when only we sisters along with my mom and her cousin went strolling inside. Uncle was very familiar with the place, so he was taking us through stair cases and to different parts of the fort. Then we stopped for some time to look around when we reached a big open area, with a big tree at the end. My second sister who got tired in the heat started walking toward s the tree to sit in the shade. It was almost like in the movie, my uncle ran and pulled her back and scolded her. We were all surprised to find out later that, that stone wall was actually the edge of well and not a seat under the tree. The tree itself had grown from inside the well, and it was soo shaded that with blinding sunshine it was hard to spot the well. I still think back and get chills.

Grandpa’s house itself was a trek for us to reach. The bus would only drop on the highway, and then we would walk atleast two miles inside to get to their house. My mom’s elder sister lived very close to the bus stop. So we would always stop at their house for refreshment or lunch and take some rest. My older cousins would lovingly give us their books to keep us occupied. I remember one hot summer day reaching there and passing out on a lazy chair under the fan!

Thought that the childhood fun was never ending. I feel sad now that I can’t go visit as often as I would before. Even visiting India is like on an itenary. Always feels rushed. When I remember those lazy summer days when we would jump into the water tank for hours, run outside in the rain, hold on to the other side of the manual grinder when mom is grinding spices for lunch, drink numerous tender coconut water, pluck & eat mangoes, jackfrutis, pick all sorts of nuts and try to roast them when Granny wasn’t looking, taking out a cleaning brush from the nook of kitchen and finding a snake sleeping behind, wandering in the garden for hours looking for God knows what!...... I feel a sense of calmness, as though everything has stopped around me and I am back where I always belonged.


Anonymous said...

I think in a way you were lucky to have spent and enjoyed your summer vacation in such a beautiful place. Unfortunately with time and commercialization these places will be extent or loose the charm it once had.
You seem to have a good recollection of details. No wonder those cherised moments will stay forever with you.


Adi said...

Sumee....lovely post and I almost had a similar childhood spending our summers in Kerala.Luckily I still enjoy it in Aj's hometown and hopefully Adi will feel the same as an adult :)

Miss Stymie said...

The above comment is made by me. Wasn't aware that it was Adi's ID

Thanu said...

Sumee,...very sweet post. It brought back a lot of my childhood memories as well.You do have a talent for recollecting things so vividly and penning them down. keep it going girl, we are always looking forward for more.