Those Memories that never Fade..
Those Memories that never Fade..6 mins 184 6 mins 184
Onam has once again shown its face on the horizon of Kerala. Onam was once celebrated as the Harvest Festival of Kerala. Adorning the courtyards of each house with Athapookalam, people awaited the return of their King, Mahabali, to his country. The markets will be full of people buying things to celebrate the festivity. For every Malayali worldwide, Onam is a time of recollecting memories. And as for me, Onam means only one thing... ‘A Journey Back To My Roots’. Growing up in an urban city full of people of all kinds, Onam was a time to travel back to those ‘roots’ that we held close. I still remember how excited we used to be when we were young, going to our native place at Vellore, to enjoy the vacation, never thinking of anything else. The joyful reunions, the Onasadhya with payasam, the Onakoodi, and amidst all of these, us, cousins fighting for chips and snacks, the small visit to the nearby river and the list goes endless.
The journey would be long and tiring. A day prior to this long journey we halt at Subhamma’s house, where we spend the night with Muthachan, Chikku Chechi, Subhamma and Aji Annan. The journey of 4-5 hours starts by early dawn. I still remember the CD that would be played in our car, Rafi Sab, Kishore Kumar, Lata Ji ...; the never-ending playlist of songs that packed our journey seems to still linger in my mind... “Nostalgia.” Somehow those old Hindi and Malayalam songs played their part in my childhood as they were an important companion along those dusty old roads. My brother and I would be fast asleep and my Amma stays awake to give Acha a company. When we were really young, Kavitha Chechi was also with us.
Kottarakara Ganapathi temple would be our first destination. I visited the temple solely for the unniyappam that we could buy from there. Those unniyappams were the most tasty treats on our long journey to Vellore. Buying as much as we could ( sometimes nearly 12-15 packets), we set off on those dusty roads to our destination.
The road side Hotels with their buildings touching the sky, were another big reason for me being so excited. There was always the thought of what we should order this time and asking my Acha if we could revisit this place on our way back, Ordering whatever my brother ordered and eating till we were so full, and grabbing the small packets of sugar and coffee powders... everything seems to be a memory worth keeping.
Reaching Vallyachan’s house by evening and telling Anju and Anand Chettan how much we missed them. Going straight for the kitchen to drink a cup of tea and to eat snacks prepared as a part of Onam. I’ve always wondered how Vallyachan and Miniamma manage to prepare chips, sharkaravaratti and many more, for all of us. Then unloading our things there and telling our cousins that we’ll be back soon, we head towards our Tharavadu; “Karickal House” The palace of memories.
As we cross the gate we can find Manoj Kochachan helping us park the car, and asking Acha how the journey was. At the Veranda, Achamma would be eagerly waiting for her son’s arrival. Her face lights up with a glow of ‘motherhood’ as she hugs her son and welcomes him home. There is a cloud of reunions with all the family members. Hari Kochachan, Ambi Kunjamma and Swaru would have reached there a day prior to our arrival, and sometimes Mani Kochachan, Selsa Kunjamma and Megha would be there too. Deepa Chitta would be busy with preparing dinner and Ambakkan will be in front of the TV. Sometimes Omanamma would also join the small reunion of siblings.
The usual talks and mixture of emotions used to fill the air around. My brother and I would go around asking if we could go to Vallyachan’s house. We go back to meet Anju and Anand Chettan and spend the night there watching TV together, telling how the school and college life was and doing a bit of catching up on what all happened.
The next day waking up late as usual we eat our breakfast and we set off to Karickal. It would be the day of celebrations as we join for a common Sadhya at our Tharavadu. Mothers will be busy in the kitchen and fathers will be busy watching TV or talking about something like the rule of political parties, new developments and if nothing is left to say, each one of them will grab something to read. Nearing the lunch time, Hari Kochachan would ask us to join him in cutting the banana leaves, and we used to wander about in the paramb to help him out.
Onasadhya would be served to us children on banana leaves laid on the floor after giving an offering to Achacha in his room. The tasty payasam still has my mouth watering like anything. The fight for chips, the race to see who finishes first and who eats everything given to them; still never changes. The afternoon games and our walks to the nearby river were all part of a fixed routine that we had. Achayi, Ushamma, Revathi Chechi, Mini Chitta, Lechu and Paru would also join us that day.
The Vacation end really quickly and it will reach the final day, ‘A Goodbye till the next meeting’. A day of sad hugs and promises fill up the house that was so lively yesterday. As we say goodbye to everyone, we cry a thousand times in our hearts and sometimes those tight hugs of goodbye become so painful that makes the process of saying goodbye so difficult. Promising to be there the next time, we start a journey back to the busy life in the city.
Remembering how much those days meant to me, I eagerly wait for an opportunity to get back to re-live those moments again. Amidst this Corona period, my heart still reminiscence those carefree days of life, living with cousins and family, enjoying each and every moment to the fullest. How we used to live 10,000 years in those 2-3 days of the visit. Wondering how much growing up made us lose those times together. The worst part of growing up was that those visits that were 3-4 times a year reduced to hardly once a year. Those journeys portrayed the most important lessons of my life, “The joy of being together”, these are things that can’t be explained in words, and they are emotions worth living. Remembering and trying to hold on to those million dollar memories, I dream of another Onam Vacation that would once again lift the spirit o f togetherness