Pure white shirt and ‘Kodi mundu’, perfectly ironed. That’s how I have seen my Muthacha all those years. I still remember the games we used to play with him, “Erumbe erumbe…“, “Thoon kaashi kaavdi indru paal…” and “Kombare kombare“.
We hail from an orthodox Nair family in Ottapalam, Kerala. To be precise, Cherukattupulam, near Vaniamkulam. My Ammamma (grandmother) used to preserve all rituals and ensured that we also did so as much as possible. Non-veg, including eggs were not allowed in Ammamma‘s house. Adolescent girls/women had to observe separation from the main house for 4 days in a month. The penance used to be over only post the ‘Nalaam Kuli’ in the pond within the compound.
My first memory shows me Muthacha’s arrival from his ancestral home in Kunnissery, Kerala. Muthacha used to bring Kozhi Fry (Chicken Fry) from Kunnissery for us and used to feed us at the Post Office right outside of Ammamma’s house. So very sweet of him…isn’t it? 🙂 Ammamma used to be fuming when we entered the house after relishing the yummy snackers. 🙂
His pet dialogue was, “Kunjhakkallkenthu venam…?“…. to which we used to reply, “Kunjhi-Puli” 😀
I remember how he used to call Ammamma with all his love, “Kunjhukuttiye…“. I loved seeing him call her and the way she used to blush even in her late sixties… 🙂
Once Renu and myself have even made him wear a saree and walk around the compound of the house…he was so loving and caring that he didn’t mind doing anything for us. Such a sweetheart he was… 😀
I being the first ever child of the house had the privilege of getting a baby cradle which I have used till I was 9 years old. It used to be cleaned and hung in Muthacha’s room just before our summer vacations and we used to play with him sitting in the cradle. 🙂
He used to fight with Ammamma whenever I was asked to go to the pond and take bath after those 4 days, coz I didn’t know swimming. But Ammamma being Ammamma, wouldn’t budge a bit. Thanks to my mother who used to take a dip along with me and the clothes, the mat, the blanket and utensils and saved me from drowning.
On Muppettu Velliyaycha (the first Friday of the Malayalam month), we used to have Lakshmi Pooja performed by Sachumama at our home. Muthacha used to pluck the Koovala Ella and Thulasi Ithal from the thodi with us. He also used to help us with the cleaning of Malar. Beautiful days those were…
He always used to tell me that I am his A1 baby…A1 as per him was “The Bestest”. 🙂
I was in 8th standard, about 13 years of age when he was ill and we travelled to Kerala to meet him one last time. We went straight to Seventh Day Adventist Hospital at Ottapalam from the railway station. I saw him with all those tubes and needles and felt the pain. He opened his eyes, but I am still not sure if he recognized me. Two days after that was the Diwali eve.
October 31, 1991. Early morning at around 4.30 a.m. I wake up to the sound of wailing Ammamma, Amma and Mema, and a look at the window that showed me a body covered in white bed-sheet being pulled out from an ambulance. I still get goosebumps seeing an ambulance. A little later I saw his body placed on the floor of his room (our den) with cotton in his nostrils, gauze roll tied around his head and his toes tied together. I touched his feet and can still feel the chilled body. Later, I have spent 2-3 days watching his body burn at the backyard of the house through the window of his room. A room once we used to go to with so much excitement and happiness, had now become a horrific place for us. I guess after that episode, it was only during Renu’s wedding that I happened to stay in that room. I couldn’t help looking at his graveyard next to Ammamma’s. It was the most shocking episode in my life. I had lost someone who used to wait for us every summer vacation…..at the gate of Meenakshi Mandiram. He was my bestest friend ever.
Your A1 baby is missing you Muthacha… 😦