I saw my ammaveed in its tainted glories surviving the distresses of old age like my grandparents. Well, I can’t call it my ammaveed anymore, cause it doesn’t belong to us anymore.
A strange unfamiliarity seemed to embrace my parents when they looked at it. Isn’t it the same for ‘pravasis’ and occasional nomads? Once you leave your beloved hometown for education, for a job, for better opportunities, there’s no coming back to that familiarity of your hometown. We could be found reminiscing ‘nammude naadu’ in some Malayalam meme pages or amidst people who are curious about the Gods’ Own Country.
It was the same for us. It wasn’t ‘ammaveed ‘ anymore for me as my grandparents got a new one and shifted to a different district. It became a mere building for me and its glorious luster seemed to have faded. I started to question what ammaveed meant to me.
What does ammaveed mean to you?
A place you’ve spent half of your childhood? A place where you are fed well? A place you cherish in the good parts of your memory along with your first love?
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I started to dig the roots of my thoughts.
Ammaveed was different from the rest of the houses in my neighbourhood, with its unique colour combination of red and blue and entirely different in its architecture. It had the longest and the largest bathroom I’ve ever seen, a long hallway that leads you to the bathroom where, as a kid, I spent thinking and creating tantrums like eating soap and drinking ‘Ujala vellam’. The bathroom had a peculiar smell, it always smelled of Chandrika soap. The smell still takes me back to that wonderful memory.
I’ve found it strange how human beings associate memories with a smell. The smell of your favourite person, the smell of your mothers’ special delicacy that reminds you of home, the smell of ‘kinattile vellam’ that you miss when you are abroad, the smell of new books that reminds you of your school life. I’m sure you have some favourite odours too!
One thing that you can’t argue about is our grandparents’ love for animals. Kozhi, pashu, aadu, and all those beautiful creatures that they adored and kept in that shed behind your ammaveed. I was always assigned to take (steal :P) the eggs from the hen’s nest which I happily did every time. Unlike the domestic animals in other places, the animals here seemed to be an extension of ammammas love.
Much like ammamas love for animals, appapan cherished plants and trees. The exotic fruits like chakka, perakka, chambakka freshly picked, cut, and fed with affection. Half of his days were spent doing some physically engaging work. The craftsmanship and patience spent in even the simplest of the work always engaged my curious mind. I think we all learned the initial lessons of hard work and consciousness from our grandparents. They have less to say, more to do.
Is it the sagacity or the intuitive skills that makes them say less of the epic dialogue – “athokke ningal valuthakumbo manasilakum” ?
Ammaveed was never just the building and the people but it always had an extension of its warmth hidden in some places. I tried my hard to remember the little details from my fading memory. Yes, the swing tied on to the ’puli maram’. It was big enough to accommodate the little me. Appaapan was the architect of all the cool things I owned as a kid. Small little toys made out of plantain leaves and coconut leaves (ola), ‘oonjal’ made out of freshly cut ‘madal’, instant bubble maker made out of papaya stem and soap solution, paper boats, sophisticated vehicles made out of ‘vellakka’ and ‘eerkil’.
Did you people too have a small pond near your ammaveed ?
I’m sure some of you might have had the luck to even learn swimming.
I had one too near my ammaveed. It would always be adorned with lotuses and some other aquatic plants. Those little swarms of fishes that came in to feed on the bits of our excitement and the ‘paavam’ snakes that ammamma always warned us of.
It’s interesting how temporary abodes always gives us the best of memories. Maybe it’s because of the abrupt ending of certain things that we value them. Those cranky hostel rooms, apartments you lived in as a newbie staff, and all those temporary places.
We always find love in places and people that we can’t have and it’s this abruptness that makes it more beautiful and appreciated.