Four decades ago, we left our father’s hometown and moved to Mangalore “bag and baggage”. My grandmother continued to live in her village. We were kids back then. Come holidays, she packed me off with her. After an hour’s journey by bus, tossing sideways and jotting up and down, we reached the other end. My landmark was the “soda” shop, which meant we reached our destination. We walked our way home amid cashew nut groves, overgrown grass, and weeds, trudging through an uneven path, exchanging pleasantries with acquaintances.
Our worst encounters were the troop of monkeys. Some sitting on the trees, the “romantic” ones dangling on the branches, while some bold enough to pounce! My grandmother was seasoned enough to tackle them. Once home, she had to clean up the mess created by her “winged” visitors in her absence.
We would wake up to the call of the rooster. Grandmother was always busy, cooking, running the house, and attending to all my “eccentricities”. At the end of the day, she would tell me stories and sing folk songs. I found the folk songs irrelevant. She also taught me to string jasmine flowers with plantain fibers, that I would use later in life. She constantly complained about how expensive things were; how everything was way cheaper when she was a young housewife.
After the morning fill, I would set forth on my “expedition” – which usually involved plucking berries, cashews, mangoes – to return a couple of hours later, after many false starts and finally getting on the right track, back home with my “prized possession” to a “rosy welcome” from grandmother on the doorway with a stick in hand!!!
Back home I was full of “descriptions”. The etiquette that my grandmother taught me always came in handy. Whenever we went on a “visiting spree” to some house, I restrained myself by displaying “reluctance” to a bowl of sweets offered, owing to her side glances. Otherwise, I would have gobbled up the entire lot if left to myself.
I always waited on tenterhooks for her next arrival. To me, everything revolved around her arrival and departure. I vividly remember the day, when my neighbours provided an audience when I screeched at my highest as I could not accompany her on her next visit.
Decades have elapsed, but there is still a medley of memories to treasure…for years to come.
Life has many phases. The best phase is childhood. The story is not imaginary. They are only a few glimpses of my early life.