Thursday, December 19, 2013

Maargali

karpanai endraalum karsilai endraalum kanthane unnai maraven...

TMS's voice softly flowing through the cold breeze oozes in to my house through the open in the middle of the house. I look up and see the sky. It is dark with twinkling stars. Cold. Dark.  I pour another bonk of cold water on my head. Got to be quick, as it is chilling cold and the water being cold doesn't help. I shiver and make it quick. I cannot dry my hair as the sun is not out yet. It won't  be out until I come back home. I would have finished my rounds before the sunrise. I try my best to dry the hair with my towel. I quickly change into clean clothes and say bye before running off. "Don't run, it is dark, you might fall off tripping on stones or anything on the road you can't see". Father's voice fades away in the background as I shoot off to the temple. I don't want to be late.
I wait in the queue. I like the warmth the lights produce, although they are not meant to be a source of heating. I do not have one myself. I just watch others'. I hear someone calling me from the lines of lights. The lights are glaring that I couldn't see who it is. I move towards the direction where the call came from. Ahh, it is Kutti. I go and sit with her. She starts reading something and playing along the poojai. like others do. I do too. The lights are all dancing and playing. I love watching them. In rows. Kuthuvilakku decorated with flowers, kumkum and sandal. the smell of sandal, kumkum and oil mixed in the air mixes with the fragrance from the flowers from the girls' hairs. Adding to that is the smell of the brisk fresh morning cold air, which brushes off my face sharp and fresh and smooth. I smell pongal too. Someone is bringing the hot pongal for prasadam. I can't wait to collect my share.


.

We have run out of oil. I tell Kutti that I can go and get some. I go near the main area where there is usually someone supplying oil to everyone, in case it runs out, like for us. I go and ask for some oil. I have taken Kutti's thookuchatti with me to get more oil. The man by the oil andaa pours some oil into my thooku. I go back and fill our kuthuvilakku with more oil and the lights get their soul back. They are back strong and dancing now. The poojai feels long and dragging. I wait for it all to be over. I go and stand in the que to collect some pongal. Kutti packs the poojai stuff and keeps them with the kuthuvilakku. We got some pongal for the vilakkuththattu on the plate. Still, I would like to collect my share and so I am standing in the que. I also collect another share for Kutti.

We walk back together. It is nearly dawn. We see the cows going to the dairy farm and the bulls and the bullock carts going to the fields. People cleaning their vasals and some spraying water too. We chat about the poojai today and walk back together. We start eating the pongal too. Divine. Not just the pongal. 

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The Birthday Brush - by Michelle

So... today is my 50th birthday and Prema reminds me of this blog on our childhoods... how can I not write something on such an important day?

But this childhood memory is of a different birthday... you'll see. ;)

I am four or five, I can't remember now. I am small and tomorrow is my mother's birthday and I want to give her a gift, but... I am small. I have no money. I sit in my bedroom and I think. There has to be something I can do, something I can give her.

Then I remember the hair brush. It was a gift from a school friend. It is a hair brush shaped like a cat. It stands upright, the cat's body is the brush and the elegant long neck and head are the handle. It is white plastic, very shiny. I think it is the most beautiful hair brush ever. I go and find some old wrapping paper and I cover it up as best I can manage. It's a bit wrinkly, but it will do.

I give it to my mother the next day. She hugs me and thanks me before she puts the brush away in her dressing table.

How I miss my brush! It was such a beautiful brush. Sometimes I sneak into my mother's bedroom and I open the little door in her dressing table and I sit on the floor and stare at the smooth white cat staring back at me. My lovely brush. I miss you, but you were the best thing I had to give. We stare at each other in such sadness. I close the door...