Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Periyaachchi - IV

I rushed home from school. Someone from home interrupted my some class and told me that periyaachchi has passed away. I just saw her on the way back to school after lunch. She asked have I had my lunch. I said, yes, I had lunch and I was late to school so, I gave her a flying look and was running. I saw her standing in the middle of the road watching me running to school, for few minutes, before she headed home.

I have to say I am not all that surprised, after her suicide attempt last year. When I reached home, I saw her body positioned in a sitting posture, decorated with lot of garlands. She was covered with my mother’s pink saree. I stood there for few minutes. It took me sometime to realise that I was not crying. Everyone around me was crying. My mother was sitting in front of, what, the body? Some more minutes of standing there, again made me realise it is not good to stand and stare without crying, people might think it is odd and bad. I went inside. Changed my uniform half-saree and put on very old clothes, as they are going to get dirty today. Went back to the hall. I was the one who reported the problem last year. When I went to ask money for her coffee, as I always do, she was very odd. We used to buy morning coffee, and it was my job. I take separate thookku for periyaachchi and for the rest of the family. By default I was included in periyaachchi’s group. It was my job to get money from her to buy coffee for us. I woke her up, and she was….odd.. “Chithi, amma, see here, periyaachchi is odd”. It was timely and we saved her. It took so many months for her to recover her speech and to get back to normal life. It was just this month last year!!! She has made sure that she dies this time. She is successful in her second attempt. Later I got information that she planned it very well too. She went around the entire village and spent some time with every relative close to her heart, including her eldest brother with whom she hadn't spoken in a long time… Suddenly I felt guilty. She was at our place this morning. I was getting ready to go to school. Tidying up before leaving to school was my job. I saw a bowl of rice lying on the kitchen floor, so I moved it to the corner area, my mother shouted at me saying that she had offered that to periyaachchi. I didn’t know. I apologised and gave her back. She refused and said she had food. I felt, I might have insulted her and that’s why she was refusing. Did I add to her hurts? oh, no! I might have catalysed her wanting-to-die feeling. Oh no. no! I didn’t mean it aachchi. I didn't. Just a couple of tears, not enough to wet my eyes. Went inside again. Took a magazine to read. Chithi came inside. “What, not even a death of a person can shake you? What kind of human being you are?”, she said seeing a magazine in my hand. I left home and went to my friend’s place. “Kutti, I don’t know, I can’t cry. I don’t want to sit there. Everyone is looking at me and thinking I am bad”. “You are after all a small girl”, A friend of my age tells me. What? I am fourteen. I should have emotions. I wondered about myself. But, I couldn't help the feeling relived for her. It was good for her. At least that she didn’t suffer. I am not old enough to earn yet. I could not have done anything to save her from the miseries she was going through. Death was good for her. She did it very well. She even talked to her older brother. I wish I knew what she was upto. I would not have given just a flying a look and ran away, when she was standing in the middle of the road watching me. She asked me did I have my lunch. I wish I had a chance to tell her I didn’t insult her this morning. I would never do that. I hope she rested in peace.
Place :- Kombai, Tamil Nadu. Age:- 14 years

Periyaachchi - III

I like to sing and jump and dance when I am alone. The area around my house is generally my favourite place. As everyone goes to work in the estate, leaving myself and periyaachchi, I am generally alone dancing, singing and running around. I can climb guava trees. “aachchi, give me that hook, I want to pluck guava fruits”.. “Don’t climb trees, you might fall. Wait, let me come”. She comes with a long hook. She watches me climbing and tells me where to keep my next foot and where to sit comfortably. She shows me good fruits, not too ripe, not too raw. She bends the branch for me, using the hook; the fruit comes just in front of my little hands. She waits until I pluck it. I give it to her asking her to keep it for me. When I have plucked few of them, I come down. I like to jump. “don’t jump, don’t jump, do you ever listen!! Show me your legs, did you hurt them? You got dirty.. You know those leeches, sometimes they stick to your skin and they suck blood out of you.”. I know. I had that experience once, terrifying. These leeches are very bad. I can’t climb orange trees. They are very tall without any branch at the bottom. If there are branches, I can use them as steps. Periyachchi uses her hook to pluck few orange fruits for me. Yep, fruit picking is finished for today… Thatha made a little hook for me, which I can carry with me and use it myself. I am a big girl now, you know. I can carry the hook and climb tree as well.
Place :- Puliyamalai, Kerala. Age:- 3 years

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Periyaachchi - II

It was raining. I like rain in our estate. Periyaachchi was preparing my favourite black coffee and roasted peanuts. Thatha was sitting on the cot covering himself with a blanket. "come inside, come inside Lathapillai". Sitting inside the blanket with thatha hugging me, having my hot black coffee with roasted peanuts, watching that choooooo rain... mmm very nice..
Place :- Puliyamalai, Kerala. Age:- 3 years
Periyachchi woke up at 2am. "Lathamma wakeup wakeup. We have to go now, otherwise we may not get enough peanut plants".. Since thatha and periyaachchi have come to Kombai, leaving the estate, periyaachchi has not been doing very well. She looks very sad. She tries to cope. I can see. She is going to peanut harvesting in somebodyelse farm so that she could bring some fresh peanuts home for me. She will get two padis (one padi = two litres) of peanuts as her wages, along with some money according to how much she will harvest. She always took me to the field with her, as I will get to eat lot of fresh peanuts all day, free. I liked going with her, not just to the field but to whereever she went, to friend's/relative's houses, as accompanying her was the only thing I could do for her. I was her favourite grandchild. Well, not many had me in their list of favourites....

Place :- Kombai, Tamil Nadu. Age:- 11 years.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Periyaachchi - I

Aachchi means maternal grandmother. Periyaachchi means elder sister to maternal grandmother. My periyaachchi was not only the elder sister to my aachchi, she was also another-aachchi for me, as she was living with us and she was just another member of our family. Somebody told me that she was married off to someone in Thevaaram (nearby village), and she even went there to live with him. He soon died due to cholera leaving my periyaachchi an young widow. She came back to live with her younger sister to look after her children, who were my mother, my chithi (aunt) and my mama (uncle). I always respected her for her generous nature. Periyaachchi is one of the people who had a very significant role in my life, though the time period I shared with her was the shortest of them all.

“Come inside, come inside”, Periyaachchi called me. I ran to her. I knew she was going to offer me to sleep inside her saree, which she wrapped around her. We slept in the kitchen. She was warm. Thatha (maternal grandfather) was sleeping in the cot. I wondered why we both can not go there too. I suppose it is because periyachchi was not married to thatha. “You don’t stay in one place and you roll all over the kitchen. Take care that you do not hit your head against the door frame, also do not go the other side, as the lamp is there on the ammi (stone tool for grinding curry paste), hitting your head against ammi will hurt you too”. As there is no door to the kitchen, it saves some space. I can sleep watching thatha and periyachchi and the entire house. Do snakes come? Someone told me that snakes used to come by following those beams. That joist beam is very big and I suppose that snake was big too? That beam is just above thatha… “No that was a long time ago, before anybody lived here. Now we are all here. So snakes won’t come. Sleep, dear Lathappillai” .... I like the mornings. I jump and walk in the misty roads, holding thatha’s hands. Thatha has his torch light. How do they see if any bus comes? I jump and walk… we are going to get breakfast… road bends with a steep slope on one side.. “don’t jump, Lathapillai, come this side… don’t run..eheheh”….. there are few of my favourite rose bushes on the way. They smell very nice… “Lathapillai, what do you want?”, thatha asks me at the shop. The shopkeeper smiles at me.. “Neyyaappam”, as usual. I watch the neyyaappam being prepared. Very tasty and very satisfied. We jump and walk back.
Place :- Puliyamalai, Kerala. Age:- 3 years


Against all my voices telling me not to do, I have successfully started my own blog.

As, all the "premalatha" options have been taken, I was forced to choose "kombai". Here you go, Kombai is stuck with me forever.


I am still not sure what am I going to do with this blog.. Hope I will be able to figure out before my next post. There are few things I am thinking, mainly the "don'ts" than the "dos"

1) Though Tamil is my favourite language and perhaps I might do better in Tamil (than in English), I am going to stick to English.

2) I am not going to write my day-to-day activities...

3) I am not going to write my opinion/beliefs/likes-dislikes/.... mainly because they have always attracted countless number of arguements in the past and I am done with those arguements. Too tired of the labels controversial/bold/what not.... (may be I am getting old..;)) Secondly, nobody cares to pay attention to what I think, nor it could change anybodyelse's thinking. That's my experience speaking... Right.... didn't I say I was not going to talk about that... louder please.... yayah, I can hear myself now... so, moving on...

4) I should restrain myself from...., well, several things actually; so the list begins...

that should conclude my "starting" post. Hope the second one, which actually is going to be the begining of the series, is a good one.