Tuesday, March 3, 2009

odds and ends

Being laid up in bed with chicken pox somehow reminded me a lot of my ancestral home. Maybe because other than the odd fever and cold, the last time I had been laid up for any amount of time was when I had mumps, while I was in school and while we were living in my ancestral house.

Days there were so restful and yet so eventful. With the chirping of the birds, you were up. The bathroom was definitely not next to the bedroom, it was located at the end of a long stretch of house. Past the living room, the dining room, the kitchen... In the summer, inside the bathroom, if you were lucky, you could hear the mangoes falling on the asbestos roof, in which case you could start off your investigations while brushing your teeth itself. Wandering under the mango trees behind the bathroom, near the hen coop, to find the fallen mango which could have rolled off anywhere....

But these investigations would be cut short all too soon by Mom's call- for me to drink milk. A thing I hated, all the more for the inconvenient times when one had to drink it. And of course, once you got back inside the house, you would HAVE to study or make a pretence of studying for at least an hour or so, before you could get away again.

We had a spinning mill long back, I believe, but part of that had been converted to a lodge some years after Achachan passed away. The rooms near the house were not given out to lodgers tho- other than those of the rat, cat and dog variety. The odd snake might also have been there, however we were careful to keep out of each others' way.

From breakfast till lunch time, I would potter about in the backyard. Climbing up the mango tree to see if there were any especially plump green ones worth mixing in salt and chilli powder, which would last me the whole day... to see if the hens in the hen coop were worth disturbing... to see if any stray cat had laid any new kittens....to see if the kittens had opened their eyes and were fit to play with... life was utter delight in those days.

Some days my Mom would join me in my pottering- not for cats and kittens, unfortunately, but for drumsticks and banana leaves and more prosaic stuff. I was delighted by her venturing out as well. For when she ventured out, out also ventured a long pole which she used to help her pull down the varous things she wanted. Now this long pole or the 'kokka' was forbidden to me on the grounds that I would use it for all sorts of unwanted things, with the result that the knife or the hook at the end of the pole would get spoilt.

But what was 'unwanted' from their viewpoint was vey much wanted from my viewpoint. There were 4 unused rooms near the well, which was used to dump all sorts of miscellany from the lodge as well as from the house. Broken chairs, torn mattresses, stones, wood, boxes... ah! the things that used to be dumped in those rooms. The farther edges of those rooms piled higher with the miscellaneous mess and they yielded immense possibilities to a mind that believed in "Seek and ye shall find!' I used to not venture too much to the centre of the rooms, always doing my poking around with an eye for quick escape via the door in case any of my reptilean neighbours poked their sinuous bodies out. Now this is where the 'kokka' was an invaluable aide. Many were the times I had used it to poke and pull out some interesting debris.

Interfering with the natural order of things was not done. When there were rats, I used to bring it a piece of carrot, a rotten tomato, a delicious smelling mango (the rats near our house did not know of any cheese). When cats came, they took preference over rats and in my efforts to become friends with them, I used to show them the hiding places of the rats. When my aunt brought home a dog (my frst introduction to the creatures I have ever since been in love with) I used to help it chase the cats as well as the rats in my efforts to win its heart. I think I succeeded well enough, for later on it was my fond companion on all my nosy backyard adventures.

Sigh! What eventful delightful hours were spent there..
I think these ruminations may also have been brought about my watching my son drive himself and us bonkers during his enforced stay within the 4 walls of the house during the reign of the chicken pox. Poor poor Sonny boy. If only you could have been in your ancestral home, my dear. How you would have enjoyed your solitary confinement.

4 comments:

Mama - Mia said...

:)

yes indeed! though would you let him meander around with his chicken pox! :p

what lovely memories JLT! loved reading this post!

hugs

abha

WhatsInAName said...

Your memoir reminded me of my trips to my fathers house in Pallakad. Though I was not as adventurous as you, I did have fun with the home grown mangoes :-) LOL at your rat-cat-dog saga
You chameleon turning the new one against old lol Narada muni you!

Just Like That said...

Mama-Mia- :-P you know, the heart misses a beat at the thought of Sonny boy getting up to all the things I did as a kid...

WIAN: You have no idea how much you can inveigle yourself into the feline and canine graces by helping them in their search for their favourite animals! And Birbal's relative has no business snocking her nose at Narada's relative.

Suma said...

what a chameleon you are!

and loved reading the post...brought back memories of days spent in my dad's ancestral house where seeing a scorpion was the highlight for us city dwellers!