Thursday, September 27, 2007

Maya Anthurjanam - Epiloque

Ammomma died three years later in her sleep. Along with her breath was gone the one true memory of Madan Tharavad. While the pyre was lite by father in the courtyard near the cowshed, I sat on the bed in her small room where she had lived most of her aged life.

The wooden window panels still streaked with white lime fingerprints, red paan stained the outside ledge of the window where her spit fell short. I reached under the bed and pulled out the copper spittoon. The contents inside swirled. I went outside to the well and from the water in the bucket, rinsed the spittoon. I reached for the ash ,kept in the coconut shell near the well for washing vessels, and scrubbed the spittoon clean using the coconut husk. I was vigorously scrubbing it with the husk, when I felt my mothers touch on my shoulder.

She kneeled next to me and put her hands over mine, stopping me. I leaned against her, burying my face into her sari. I felt her tears drop on my head.


We left the village to take up a place in the city when I joined a collage there. Our house was rented to the new village postmaster. My visits to the village was at best erratic in the beginning, which slowly ceased to naught in the coming years.

I came to know through Bala who visited me once that Madan Tharavad was now under property dispute . After the disappearance of the only legal heir , Maya Anthurjanam, there was a legal haggle over the property. The main players seemed to have been some distant relatives of Bhargavi Amma, Vishnu Naboodri's wife.

After my college, my parents started arranging for my marriage. A part of me wanted to revolt against their wishes, but seeing my father's worsening health, I went along with it. The bridegroom was a shy , young man with a wisp of a moustache who was a doctor in America. I liked his smile.

Invitations for the marriage had been sent to everyone in the village. Many turned up with their well wishes and steel vessels as presents. Aathu was there with a grin as wide as his face. His hair finally tamed. Basheer had got a visa and had gone to Dubai.

I left with my newly acquired husband to the shores of America two months after our marriage.

It was for my fathers funeral that I visited my village again. He had insisted that he be cremated in his property. I was not saddened at his death. He had been bedridden a long time. Death came like a long awaited friend.

I stayed over after the funeral at our house, along with Amma, as the post master's guest for a couple of days. My husband had chosen to stay with the kids back in States. I had taken a months break from my job at the university. I had to make a decision about Amma, the last thread binding me to my past ; to all that was me.

The village had changed in my absence, in subtle ways. Where Madhavan's cashew trees stood, now was covered with lines of rubber trees, each wearing a coconut shell, looking to me for a moment like girls carrying the lamps at the temple deeparadhana. The old mud paths have made way to tarred road with pot holes. I walked towards Madan Tharavad.

A large wall covered the compound, with shredded glass embedded on top to discourage trespassers. Through the wrought iron gate I saw a well maintained garden and a pebbled pathway leading to a concrete mansion. On the gate was welded a Beware of the dog sign with a portrait of an Alsatian Dog painted for good measure. On cue I heard the distant barks of the model.

I walked back to our house.

In the evening , a knock on the door announced a visitor. It was Aathu. A taller, fatter, older Aathu, with the same wide smile. We spoke through the night, sitting in the Varandha, sipping pipping hot black coffee. Aathu kept on puffing at his India King. He spoke of reservation, caste rights, communism , of white khadi shirts and red flags. I listened. I remembered the little boy who clung to my skirt. I smiled.

Just before my return to the States, my mother made her decision to stay back in the village, refusing my offer of coming back with me. She occupied the small room where Ammomma stayed. The room had been whitewashed . The window panels painted a light blue.

I left the next day. I watched my village pass through the window of the Ambassador car which sped towards the airport. The car drove through the road that passed the tharavad. As we sped fast , I caught a glimpse of a figure at the wrought iron gate.

It was a small girl of nine in a white petty coat.

15 comments:

Vidya said...

hmmmmmm... nice one Tys.... keep up the good work...

Ziah said...

Sweet.

This is the point where we put our hands together and clap... Nice job!!! :)

P.S: Now I kinda relate to me grandmom getting all woebegone when a season of her saas-bahu serial ends!! :) Some things in life, are addictive.

Tys on Ice said...

@vidya: thnks...u really liked it? doesnt it come out too cliche ?

@ziah: taking a bow..but u being too kind...somehow the whole thing looked a lil contrived to me...

Ziah said...

Oi Tys! My cerebral processor is kinda gettin slow, so dint quite get your drift... Whats contrived here? Left you my take on Devils.. in your Epilogue.. :)

Ziah said...

Tys! I see where you're coming from. [Cerebral processor miraculously revived!] ;)

"Maya anthurjanam" has a storyline that is so kerala-ish in its essense... I agree there must've been countless ballads, stories and even movies with tharavadus as the background, and tragic unfinished love stories lingering in and around them... and angry dads-playing villains - your Vishnu Namboodiri or our Perunthachchan, I see whey you say its cliched.

I would still say Maya Anthurjanam comes with a certain freshness. The theme may not be an original, but you get full marks for treatment. If you would have narrated a cliche in a cliched way, you would've fallen asleep on your keypad. Instead you chose to say a tale with stark simplicity and through the eyes of a child. The outcome was a fascinatingly fresh tale created from a cliche!

Kudos Tys! Hats off to you! :)

Tys on Ice said...

@ziah : hey, my first critic..tht too a gud review...u just made me want to continue doing this...thnks..hope i didnt come out like i was fishing but really dont hve too much impression abt my capabilities as a writer...pls dont reply to tht....i kinda know wht u will say....thnks

Ziah said...

Hey Tys! Hope your weekend is good:)

Ok, big favour.. tried a first draft of the yarn at telling tall tales... wanna know if its too wonky or is it okay??? :)

Love, Z!

Bubba Free Rain said...

Tys: thanks for your comment. I think your writing is heartfelt and evocative. A very pleasant read. You can't lose with Kerala as your setting. Arundhati Roy sounds like a white memsahib writing about Kerala. You sound authentic. It takes guts to do what you're doing. Keep at it. And thanks again.

Mia Makarand said...

hi, thanks for your comment on my celebrity interpreter blog, i will let you know when the novel comes out; first though, there's another one coming out in jan or feb or so; also look out for my new website revengeink.com which should be up in a few weeks... all the best with your writing; you have a wonderful heartfelt style. ever read any garcia marquez?

Ziah said...

Tys, no new yarns? :(

Mia Makarand said...

hi again, the revenge ink site you saw is mine! on there i should have a blog showing my first novel and other tidy tidbits... look out for it, a first skeleton should be up soon; final site ready for december... thanks again for your interest!

Reflections said...

read all the chapters...u really write well. U described the kerala life style so beautifully and the chapters just flowed into the next...but..forgive my insensitivity....it sort of ended abruptly....wheres the part where her father beats her for going to tht cursed place & what was the anointing all abt?
.....and the very last line also confuses me....was everything a figment of her imagination??????

rm said...

style of writing good..as u have stuff better theme is expected..i think sidharth will be an answer to that.
i completely agree with ziah's review .
i enjoyed reading.

Sudheer said...

Hi Tys,

Good natural writing, pulling at the heart with a nostalgic pain.
You have a great theme.

Ardra said...

Liked the narrative style, the characterisation though minimal was still remarkable. Liked that there is no clutter of characters, psyche, spatial details... and yet picturesque...
the protagonist, narrator stays in the mind long after- the mood, the ambience lingers...

The reading is crisp ad brisk...
The ending is natural, flowing...
and yet, one is left with a yearning for something more- as if something was left out...
one important nuance is left to be revealed...
May be that's a good feeling to be left with at the end of a story...

About Devil's chronicles- the whole mood is sombre, dark and brooding- dont know if its more of my imagination...
but very effective...
Very thought provoking almost in the sense of a jolt!
Powerful story telling....
Glad I was able to read both these stories at one stretch without the wait in between...
Now shall I begin with 'Death Of Siddhartha' or shall I wait for you to post the whole series...

Kshamayude nellippadi kaano? :-)


Thank you and waiting for more...
rgds