Of all the books I have read, the one that struck me the most is Malayatoor's Verukal, perhaps because I believe its such a poignant reminder of the times that we live in. With globalisation touching remote roots and people travelling to all corners of the world, everything that was once local will slowly be wiped away of its essence and none of us will have the time or yearning to even give it a thought.
About a month back, I made a visit to Palakkad to meet some of my relatives and spent a couple of days with them. We did map our journey so that we could pass along Keralassery - a small village in palakkad which was once home to my father, his cousins and a whole lot of generations that preceded them - and click a few shameless duck faced selfies in front of whatever properties that are still visible.
Honestly, I was myself surprised by my desire to go there. I have never been there one single time while I did my engineering in Palakkad, my college just about 20km from Kovilakath Panikkar Veedu, achan's ancestral house. It still had a lot of people there, but never did it even remotely come across my mind that I owe a visit to the place. My lack of interest, however, was not just prejudice I guess.
I remember coming down from Calcutta ( back then ) on our school vacations and how I loved going to Keralassery, the most beautiful, serene village in the interiors of Palakkad. If you ever ask me to count down a list of properties that I saw and remember, I could well do it for you simply because there weren't a lot. I remember there was a govt LP school, a bhagavathy temple, our tharavad, 3 or 4 shops ( manikandan's stationary being the most popular one ) and a couple of small homes dispersed somewhere on the edges of the paddy fields, the origin of which began from our tharavadu. Thats it.
I remember those early morning baths where me, achan, sneha ( my sister ) and swetha (cousin) used to throw in towels to catch pretty, small fish in that sweet little pond. I remember how we swam, supported by coconut flushes, for the first time. The long walkway from achan's tharavadu to the ettukettu, with lush green forest cover on either side - I still remember the scary walks I had to make through those pathways. I remember the rains and the inexplicable joy it brought about. I remember how the velichapadu(revealer of light as the definition goes) in the bhagavathy temple frightened me and gave me sleepless, dreadful nights. I do realise that I remember everything, each and every bit to the point of detail.
As I grew up, the people there got older and "boring ". The people of Keralassery and everything associated with it no more appealed to me. I remember my last 3 visits to the place were to attend funerals. Swetha's father, when we were still kids, my grandmother and Das Uncle - I remember all of them. The aura of the place had disappeared altogether and a wave of negativity surrounded me whenever I went there. I remember wanting to run away from all of them the last time I was there. The place no more fascinated me, infact, the kid in me came back disturbed all three times.
Life moved on, and never did I want to go back to Keralassery. Not even once the thought struck me. Years later when achan told me that their ancestral house was being demolished and the property being sold to some one, I remember having a deadpan face. Maybe I had even thought of the money he might get once the property was moved off. Well done everyone, great job - thats how you get rid of all the old age stuff! This was about 5 years ago.
Over these 5 years, me & Lichu have worked well towards a deep, healthy relationship. For her, one of the few good things she says she has always liked about me is my longing for home and everything I have seen and lived over the years. Even I remember having peppered her with stories from my childhood, tirur, calcutta, my schools, friends, cigarettes...everything. One thing I never noticed is how very much Keralassery was also a part of these stories and memories. However, I never remember speaking anything about the place to her or to any of my closest friends when we were in college or even to my school pals. I still blabbered about all the other things in my life but never did the pictures of Keralassery made memories.
The land and my ancestral home never made it to my exotic list when it was there next to me; I could always postpone that visit to the infinite future. But now, when I realise that I can never relive any of those sweetest childhood moments, I long for it. How I wish to show everyone the ettukettu, through which rays of light poured in and made a moment which even the costliest SLRs wont capture! How can they ever get to know the walk ways amidst the forest which has hundreds of stories waiting to be unleashed? I felt like a stranger there, and I was totally one. I knew none, no one could ever figure out me as well. After I repeatedly paused and wondered for a long period, I believe I realised one of the most innate human characteristic - the very fact that we root for something that doesn't exist anymore. Irony it is, but I guess thats how we all are designed to be.