Tuesday, December 20, 2005

That Tamarind Tree

That one, you know, that one, is that tamarind tree in which that ghost lives, they say. I don’t know whether I would go there; I don’t need to. It is not on the way to the farm I am going now. Is it 12noon? I don’t know. I didn’t check before leaving. I forgot. I feel little uncomfortable in my stomach. I look at the sun. It is almost just above my head. Seeing the sun’s position, it looks that it could be 12noon. I look at my shadow. Is it slightly longer on the east? Yah? If it is, it is after 12noon. Yes I can see the shadow of my head just in front of my feet. Doesn’t that mean it is slightly longer in the east and it is after 12noon? Big breathe. Better now. I adjust my bag in my hip. I am going to a farm to wash all the clothes in a pump-set. I kind of enjoy that. Murugeswari akka is walking in front of me. We are walking on the varappu, a narrow ridge that separates farms and acts as foot path. I like to walk on the wet grass of the varappu. It is very green, fresh and pleasantly cold. Sometimes it hurts too, if there are any thorny plants. But it is not a big deal, as these thorns are flowery thorns, as my mother says. The thorn from karuvelai and seemakkaruvelai (Prospis) are dangerous though. Once I was hurt and we had to go to a doctor to get that out. I was limping for sometime. I think I still have scar.

I look at the tamarind tree again. This time I take a deep look. Mother says that I am a daring person. Mother says that I am not afraid of ghosts. Mother says that I dare to go anywhere in the night however dark it is. I look at the tamarind tree again. It is at a very far location, atleast three farms I have to cross if I want to go there. Murugeswari akka would think that I am crazy if I tell her that we should go there just to check whether there is a ghost or not. She is not afraid of ghost either. “Latha, did you read Sandilyan’s Yavana raani? I think Tiperius is intelligent than Ilanjeliyan. We blindly appreciate him simply because he is from our country and we think Tiperius is a villain simply because he is from Yavana Nadu”. What? …….. Soon we both were arguing so much about that, and then on some distracted side-track stories.. “Hey look, cotton plants”. We both love cotton. Young cotton fruits are very tasty. Mmm.. We hide amidst cotton plants so that the farm owner, if he is there in the farm, wouldn’t notice us. This is one of the attractions for me that makes me never say no to this weekend-pumpset-clothe-washing sessions. The biggest attraction being the whole session: the washing in the pump-set, drying in on the grasses and then folding before going home, actually. Murgeswari akka taught me to fold. She folds clothes very nicely and very neat. Myself and akka spend the whole day like this. I just love it. I would like to own a farm myself when I grow up and have money to buy. I will have rose plants around the well. I will surely have my little hut where I will make coffee and cook sometimes. :-)

Oh, that tamarind tree. I look at it again. “Akka, do you know that ghost lives in that tamarind tree”? “I don’t know. I have never been there”. “You know that farm owners, how do they handle it? What do they do whenever they have to go there? They have their crop, they irrigate it almost everyday. What do they do? How do the workers handle it? What do they do when they have to weed the crop, apply fertiliser/manure and harvest the crop? I mean all sorts of things they have to do there”? “I don’t know. I have never been there. Don’t even think about planning to go there. Your mother will kill me”. We have reached our destination farm. We select our stones and sitting locations/positions… The sun is hot enough to compete with the splashing water. I just love it. :-)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Puliyodharai (Tamarind rice)

First time in a school trip. No, it is not my school trip. Chithi’s. She works as a teacher in a different school. I study in the best school, my Chithi says. She even had to fight with her bosses to enrol me in my school, and not enrolling in her school. I have never been on a school trip or school cinema or anything outside my school. Once my father caught me in shop, buying coffee. I volunteered to buy coffee for my teacher. He came with me and talked to my teacher that I should not be sent out ever again. He said that my studies are very very important.

This is the first time in a school trip. We are in Vaigai dam. It is one of the popular picnic spots, I have heard. Today we have been to the park and the dam. Tonight we are sleeping here. We are leaving tomorrow. It is very nice and strange to feel this night time outside my home. I have never been out like this. Never at this dark night time. Never seen this open sky with stars, well, I have seen from my vaasal and when we are all playing outside our houses, but this looks very new and different. I am so excited.

We all go inside the hall. We are going to eat our food. Mother has given us Puliyodharai (Tamarind rice), my favourite. I get to eat puliyodharai only when we go out on tours. Last time I had puliyodharai was when we went to Madurai. I can’t wait to eat puliyodharai. Chithi is holding my hands. All day she has been holding my hands. All the other students walked in lines, and I walked on the side along with my Chithi, holding her hand. She is teacher and I am the teacher’s kid, you know. Students talked with students and Chithi talked with teachers. There was no another teacher’s kid for me. Never mind, coming to school trip itself is good enough for me, I don’t have complaints. I got to see the open sky, dark and twinkling, so big, so breezy, didn’t I? I don’t have complaints. I can’t wait to open the puliyodharai parcel. Father packed it in banana leaves. I just love it. I can’t wait to eat my puliyodharai, my favourite.

Why are you eating like this? Look they are all waiting for us. It is because you are too slow. EAT.
Why are you eating like this? They are going to think we have left you starving for months.
Why are you eating like this? Have you not seen food before?
Why are you eating like this, spilling all over the place?
Why are you picking the spillage, you dirty stupid? It is dirty there. You are shaming me in front of others.
Sit right and straight. Is this the way you sit in front of food and in front of others?
Do you sit like this without respect? Bend towards food and eat.
What are you looking at? Do you need my permission to eat? You are a great actress. “You, know she generally doesn’t respect elders and give reply word for word, now she is acting as if she needs my permission to eat EAT”.