Friday, March 8

Of Bygones And Those Forgotten Treasures

A Tharavadu In Kerala . Image Source : here

My mother’s ancestral house (Tharavadu ) , a formidable building encased in a vast area of land , is tucked away in a remote village in Quilon district , which happens to be barely two hours from the city I reside .  As was the general norm a few decades back , my mother used to co – inhabit the house with her parents , cousins , nephews , nieces and grandparents , and as she reminisces  to this day , sans doubt , they used to have an enticing life in all its pomp and splendour . The older women of the house helmed the kitchen , while adolescent girls of my mother’s age caressed their babies and adorned them with every piece of fancy ornament they could get their hands on . A few exuberant male members took charge of the land they owned , tending to the coconut and jack fruit trees which blossomed in abundance and a few others who were educated undertook the office works .  My mother , with much effort and determination , used to attend school , not missing a class , though she had to walk for a few kilometers by foot to reach the destination .

A serene and charismatic temple stood in all its pristine beauty facing the house and needless to say , each member of the family , without fail , used to insinuate the habit of visiting the temple two times a day into their daily schedule . My grandmother used to have her much longed for rendezvous with friends of her age at the temple premises where they would sit updating each other on their lives , indeed after offering their devoted prayers to the deity .

My mother would return home by evening and more often than not she would be greeted by the alluring fragrance of the delicacies being fried in the kitchen . A routine it was to relish those succulent dishes in the company of her cousins before they swarmed in the front porch to commence their play sessions . Each member of the family was intricately connected to the other by the resplendent threads of love and togetherness . 

Years passed and my mother earned herself a well renowned job , leaving her with no option but to pack her bags to head to the city where we live now . 

One fine day , my grandmother came to visit us with an intention to spend sometime with her grandchildren not anticipating the many lurking unpleasant experiences in store for her at our place . For a person who spent her entire life cooking dishes for her family ,my grandmother was forced to suffice her hunger with the half brewed food our servant half heartedly churned up every day . Shackled to the glazing walls of our house , while my parents went for work , she had to drag through the day , suppressing her urge to share her thoughts with some one , for there were none in her immediate vicinity to do so . 

Even when i was home from college for the holidays , i rarely could conjure myself to listen to her , blame the multitude of assignments and social networking engagements that devoured me wholly .  Accustomed to the pleasing sight of  vast expanse of lush land spreading out in her neighbourhood back at her home , it came as quite a shock to her the sight of concrete blocks that were independent houses , sprouting up seamlessly , the land stripped of all its existing greenery .  Before we knew , my grandmother had retreated to her niche back in her village , because for her, by the passage of each day the hours seemed to tick away much slower than the previous day  .  

 Today, she is utterly sick, and a quagmire of a situation has incepted out of the blue . Her condition is so dire that my mother has no option but to coax her into returning to our place , something she would ignore doing if she ever had a wish granted . After much persuading she has agreed to come over to stay with us . She is not home yet , but we are expecting her next week sometime . I have taken a resolution to keep her company , at least for a couple of the coming months when i would be staying here at my home - a decision born out of repentance . 

I feel sorry for my grandmother .Who is to blame for this state of affairs ? 

My parents for having had the courage to chase their dreams ? My grandmother who finds it difficult to tear herself away from the land where she nurtured every bit of her happy moments and still hoping to do so till the end of her life ?  Blame the industrialization , mechanization and degradation of relationship values which stimulate humans to withdraw into a self imposed shell of their own concoction , that they barely have time to reciprocate and appreciate the innocence of a baby smiling endearingly at them from across the road or to lend a helping hand to an elderly man stumbling with his stick in his concerted efforts to cross the road ? What about the many such grandparents who are stranded at their ancestral homes , for whom a meeting with their children is limited to the times they spend glancing at their well framed photographs ? 

The world is shrinking to a scary space where individual objectives and dreams outweigh the needs and desires of their kith and kin .

What if you are too late to turn back now ? 

.  We shower praises at cultural practices alien to our country , embrace them like a piece of heaven and even go to the extent of despising our culture as not relevant enough . It takes an expatriate's opinion or some Hollywood movie actress going gaga over Yoga , to knock us back into our senses , pricking the halo of resentment that we weave towards what is indigenous to us . 

. We have the privilege of staying connected with our virtual friends 24hours a day , so why bother dealing with the close ones over a cup of coffee for the sake of sustaining friendship ? 

. Forget the much awaited family outing on the weekend with an intention to keep the fun element sustained , now there are highly diligent boys adorning pretty hats , who with their prompt delivery make sure that you are fed four square meals a day in the comfort of your own home . 

. Why would our kids march in flocks to the neighborhood with a focused intention to stone down swollen ripe mangoes , when they have carton sealed health drinks at their hand's reach enriched with fruits to revive their slogging thoughts , dampened with the constant whirring of a laptop or a head phone ? 

We are indeed sailing on the clouds of heaven , aren't we ! 

Why would anyone with good sense be foolish enough to forgo all these pleasures and set aside time from their seamless schedule for the sake of consolidating familial ties and traditional values ? What could we possibly gain from that ?  Now , that is something which is going to dawn on us on one of those drab , dreary days , when we sit high and dry in that dream mansion of ours , with not a person to share our thoughts with , several years down the lane . 

Let us not fall off the abyss that is being dug around us by our own haphazard deeds .

Let our kids , infact, let US , imbibe the goodness of love - the one power that outlasts all gory revolts and disasters . Is there any better way to let it happen other than by bonding with our best friends since birth - our family members ? Our festivals are so construed that , in addition to the religious practices they stand for , they stress the importance of people confluencing together to share their days with the company of their family members. Not all traditions and festivals are rational i agree , infact, the irrational ones need to be shunned with the same vitality as we practise the sensible ones . And those sensible ones need to be encouraged for they uphold the goodness of togetherness and being there for each other. We should also remember that following traditions ought not to be the end , rather it should be the means to sew the frazzled pieces together , the onus of keeping it glued together would and certainly should rest on us and us alone. 

 By treasuring the traditions that have been passed onto us by our predecessors , by understanding the essence of our past -  our music , our cinema and our literature heritage - and thereby educating our next generation about it , we would be encouraging them to cherish those and be proud of their own lineage and legacy. Instill a passion in them to delve deeper into our history,  so that they would realise the stark truth that , the freedom and grandeur that they relish today was not created overnight by the sweep of a magic wand and so also they shouldn't take those for granted . Let us not forget our roots , the very base of our existence . Let us not thrive this world hoarding a smoke screen in front of our vision , eluding the joy of togetherness and life's small pleasures, for by doing so , in our frenzy to conquer the farthest mile , we stand a risk of missing the precious little milestones that we are blessed with on our way.  


  1. A very good post!!:) And your decision to give company for your grandmother is appreciable.. :)

    1. I am glad i could throw more light into the issue Akash . Thank you for agreeing with me . .

  2. She surely be lucky to have you as her company Maliny :) a very cleanly written and loved to read :)

    1. Family is indeed the best thing to clutch onto when the times get tough . Thankyou Saurabh . I look forwards to your comments everytime :)

  3. :) Some memories of my grandpa got rekindled.. Thanks!

  4. Very beautifully written post. I became nostalgic reading about Kerala.The lush green paddy fields with groups of women working in the fields, Coconut and palm trees enjoying the cool breeze are so refreshing.Wish your grand ma all the best.

    1. You have summarised the very essence of our land in those words ma'm . Kerala is indeed a mesmerising beauty . Thankyou for the wishes and for dropping by :)

  5. Reminded me of my ancestral house in south :)

    Thank you so much for this beautiful walk down the memory lane making me all nostalgic!

    1. I am glad that the post made you reminisce . More or less the purpose of the post :)


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