“Ammu. Ammu. Wherever you are, come back fast or I’ll complain to your Dad.”
I rushed to Amma, my mother.
Just a glance and Amma knew where I was hiding.
The unhusked rice grains on my clothes and limbs made it evident.
We had a huge Pathayapura next to the cattle shed and behind the post-office building within our compound. Yes. We had a two room building closer to the main gate which Ammamma (my grandmother) had rented out at a nominal cost of Rs.100 per month to the Indian Postal Service officials as Post Office for the area. The Pathayapura was one place I used to cherish as a hideaway.
Pathayapura or Kottil is a granary. It is a huge building which is there within the compound of ancestral houses in Kerala. It is used as storehouse or room for threshed grain or animal feed.
If no one listened to me or gave me the attention requested, I’ll slowly get into the Pathayapura till I forgot why I got into it. Oh yes! Drama queen I was. 😀 If I had to hide something from all of them, I would stealthily get into the Pathayapura and hide it. It was also a play area for me and my little sister. It was also the place where I used to reveal my secrets to Muthachan (my grandfather).
It was filled with coconuts, dried and non-dried, bunches of bananas hung from the roof, unhusked rice grains stacked on one corner, dried ginger and turmeric, pots filled with yummilicious tamarind, mangoes, raw and dried, and lots of other things. We also used to store wood for the ancient aduppu (chulha or wood-burning stove).
I used to spend most of my afternoons here in the Pathayapura when the entire household was busy snoring away to glory during their afternoon nap. I would pick up a book or a diary and would go and lie down on the heap of husk.
Childhood is one of the best times of a man’s life as you enjoy each and every single and simple thing without being judgmental. I have spotted arana (a kind of streaked lizard), theratta (millipede), vavval (bats) and even a couple of snakelets within the Pathayapura many a times. But they never scared me then as much as they do now. I simply can’t imagine all that now. In short, Pathayapura was all in all, a house of my own with entry for only those that I wanted to bring in. There are many a memories that I have of that unfinished building of my childhood including those when my grandfather would bring back lots and lots of eatables including duck eggs, murrukku (a traditional snack) and sometimes chicken too on his way back from his hometown. He’ll feed us either within the Pathayapura or in the porch of the Post Office building after their working hours. All this trouble because my grandmother didn’t allow non-vegetarian food including eggs within the house.
I being the first child of my generation in the family was extremely pampered and loved by my grandfather. He did not see any of his grandchildren other than me and my little sis. He had bought a cradle for me when I was born, which I used till I was 10 or 11. It used to be hung in his bedroom or within the Pathayapura. I have enjoyed those moments when grandpa used to rock the cradle as I would go non-stop about stories of my Dad’s last visit or about my friends in school, or I would be reading out my wishlist to him.
During my Maasi’s (Mom’s sister) wedding, there were 4 bunches of bananas hung inside the Pathayapura for the guests who were to be served sumptuous meals for a continuous four days from the next day onward. The very next day, when the helper of the cook went in to pick a banana bunch, all he found was four bunches hanging with just the outer covering. No. No. Not the rats, but it was us…me and my little sister. Poor things had to send someone to the farm again to get more bunches. But we go stomach-full from Amma. 😉
It is with great sorrow that I inform that the Post Office building collapsed a few years ago and the Pathayapura, my vacation hideaway, too is in shambles and a major portion of it has already collapsed. That’s how partition works on most of the ancestral properties. If ever I happen to get into it, I’ll climb upstairs through the wooden stairs that have been hollowed by termites, go to the window and look towards the backyard where two souls who understand my love and emotions for this unfinished building structure are resting in peace…my Muthachan (grandfather) and Ammamma (grandmother).
*All pictures in this post are a result of Google Image Search for the respective words.
This post is part of the WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts program where the aim is to post at least once a day based on the prompts that they have provided. Today’s prompt is, “Ode to a playground: A place from your past or childhood, one that you’re fond of, is destroyed. Write it a memorial.“