Writer, teacher and academic blogger. Writes a social media trilogy. Forthcoming books: Myth of the Social Media Politics (Primus Books), Intimate Speakers (Fingerprint).Specializes on celebrity culture, political class, culture studies, business politics and technology.
The year 1990 was, in fact, full of agony and woeful memory! “Ammachi” (Mother) and “Acha” (Father) temporarily separated for three years. Ammachi went to grandpa’s house. She asked us to accompany her.
Perhaps, this paining memory, I have always tried to be truthful and lovely to Gayu, my wife for this horrendous experience of separation and reunion! May be, as Khalil Gibran said, “Shall the day of parting be the day of gathering”
“Shiju and I should go to school from grandpa’s house”. Said Ammachi.
It was painful and too difficult as the distance between school and grandpa’s house was hilly terrain with almost four water streams tearing the long mud path. The only time we used to walk in between this long distance was the annual festival at “Kozhithavalam”, a temple near grandpa’s house. Those days it was merriment. We could meet relatives, contemporaries, visit shops, and watch Bala, a temple art form those days.
This time, Shiju and I were in deep trouble. However, no more option, we were compelled to go with her.
Commuting to the school often become nightmarish everyday since it was almost ‘eight km’ away from grandpa’s house. Bus and Jeep services between Udayagiri UP School and grandpa’s house were uncommon and a ‘luxury’ for our school going generation in the mountainous region of Alakode. For Shiju, he was too young to walk this long distance. I used to hold his small hand while moving over rock-ribbed, cleft-ridden road, pebble loaded steep mud path across the hilly terrain leading to our school. Perhaps this childhood struggles and the care I have cherished for him, I was always his hero and model and for me he was a charming young brother.
Often times, we both, along with many other unlucky kids of our mountain inhabited generation were late early morning at school. Kunjhamma miss, my class teacher fires me. Those days she was unbearable. Of course, no teachers at school were lovely in my life! Usually we used to run half of the distance to avoid this, not for respect, but for fear. Shiju become tired and for me it is sorrowful when he cries.
Nevertheless, running between destinations was so usual for me ever since. It helped me much while doing studies, to get a job, face challenges in life, and be safe in difficulties. However, those days, it was injuring, especially school life.
The only thing that often comes to charm us in this every day walk to school was a teashop of Abukka. For me this shop was the beautiest place on this planet those days. Sukhiyan, Parippuvada, and Undakkayi, colourful snacks arranged and show cased in the glass shelf, I used to look at those and considered Abukka as a god. Despite not able to afford the expenses of those wonderful snacks, tired and sweating after long struggles with odds, for me seeing it was really filling our stomach.
“Abukka is a god, for he makes culinary snacks that wet people’s toungue”.
I said to Shiju
Unfortunately, Ammachi had been so poor to afford our school expenses those days. Moreover, my Uncles always frowned up on her. May be they were recently married and almost settled. It was only Valiyamamchi (grandmother) a source of solace in all her distress. As Valiyamamchi is to my Ammachi, my Ammachi is to us, a real source of energy in times of difficulties, perhaps all “Ammas” are nice in this reason.
One day it was Ammachi’s younger sister whom we call with love Maniyamma, was awaiting Bus nearby Abukka’s shop. She was married and settled at Alakode town. She often visited grandpas’ house. It was a day in my life I got an opportunity, for the first time, to taste Sukhiyan and Tea from that heroic shop. I got an opportunity to meet and talk to Abukka, my hero! However, Shiju missed it as he was suffering from fever, did not accompany me to school.
Maniyamma became an Angel. She was sent from heaven. Thanks god. She also packed two more Sukhiyan for Shiju.
I was too tired, sweating and breathing hard every day back and forth school and home. Quite strange, while walking on the mud path, I myself ate those delicious Sukhiyan. Of course, I was too nervous, if she comes to know that as if I didn’t handed over it to Shiju!
One week later, when Maniyamma arrived again at Grandpa’s House, she asked what happened, if the Sukhiyan was not given to Shiju?
I was shocked because Shiju was crying. Being nervous, I have no words to express.
I lied and said without confidence:
“Maniyamma while crossing the small water stream that comes our way to
School, my leg slipped on a sliding rock in the water. Therefore, I missed the
Sukhiyan pack for Shiju. It was dropped on to the water stream.”
However, I remember she looked at me with care and love. Her eyes were so generous on me. I have never seen such an ocean of love in the eyes of a person later ever in my life. And replied as if to Ra, that is how she used to call Ammachi:
“Ra, ohh, poor kids, they become tired after long distance walk to school.”
“You should do one thing ask their Father (Acha) to look after them.”
Eventually, in the ebb and tide of life, I have developed many differences with Maniyamma! But, never ever, I have found in any shop and in any place an eatable that teaches value, something that is educative and a snack that is reflective of agonizing but nostalgic memory filled with hardship of life. While sparing whopping bucks at star hotels these days; I have never seen even a small portion of appetizing eatable that wets my toungue.
Maniyamma, I swear you, never ever in my life, I had tasted something delicious and as good as those Sukhiyan from Abukka’s teashop. Life is full of ebb and tide and it is better to give when unasked. Maniyamma despite all differences, I cast off not a garment from me, a skin that I tear with my own hands. Inside me you may see how I love you. And memories haunt me this night!