MY STORIES—CONTINUE- HOUSEHOLD ACTIVITIES
By SATHEESAN RANGORATH
Amidst symphony of birds singing, I opened my eyes slowly. Every body was fast asleep It was too early in the morning to get up for a boy like me. I think every body was fast asleep except grandma. Therefore, I decided to go to her. She was happy to find me so early and asked me to sit near, she was reading from the epic called Ramayana. It is a book in verses contain several stanza’s of beautiful verses, about a reincarnated Hindu god, who came to annihilate evil and establish peace, tranquility and righteousness in the world. Like Homer’s epic Odyssey and Melton’s Paradise lost, it is considered one of the greatest poetic works of India. When her children grew up she decided to study scriptures of Hindu religion MAHABAHRATHA’ BHAGAVATHA’ as a spiritual practice. My grandma gets up early in the morning at about four O clocks. Morning hours from three thirty to six o clock in the morning is called “BRAHMA MUHOORTHAM”. During these hours, it is considered very ideal and auspicious time for doing one’s spiritual practices. Ancient sages and masters of India used to do meditation and prayers during the early morning hours. It is a recommended time by Hindu scriptures as well. My grandma kept this practice for practical purposes, as she had to milk her cows. So even after she was well off she kept to her schedule of getting up early and do her daily chorus of milking cows for the family and lighting the firewood oven for the days cooking. Milking of cow requires some special skill; my granny does it well from her years of experience. Before milking done, she cleans the cow shed and cleans the cow dung. Then, calf is taken to her mother, while she feeds her calf; grandma nicely takes over the udder by softening it with a little butter on her fingers. After squeezing milk, she leaves a portion for the calf to be fed again.
The milk is measured and a portion is kept away as she sells it to her neighbors. The rest is for the family, which she boils as a ritual. In every house, fire is lit in the oven by lighting camphor, and then milk is boiled. She makes her special tea by adding a lot of milk and specially blended tealeaves. She prefers tea made of tealeaves instead of tea dust. Whenever I am with her, I used to get her special tea. I still can feel its taste. After tea, she brushes her teeth with ground charcoal, pepper, and salt, .then she chews a bit of mango leave to clean her tongue. After taking bath, she lights an oil lamp with wick in it
in the prayer room. Smell of incense rise in the air welcoming a graceful morning. when I got up she had completed half of her morning chores as she was found reading from the scriptures. Now she is ready for an elaborate pleasure of her’s chewing betel leaves with Aricanut and lime. She also chews raw tobacco, in order to ward of her toothaches. I watched her so closely and could not take my eye off her with wonder. Giving a pat on my back, she left for kitchen to supervise her daughters preparing breakfast.
By six o, clock in the morning almost all the members of the family gets up. After brushing the teeth, tea is served. For children and women tea will be sweetened with jaggery (Raw sugar). For men tea is mixed with white regular sugar. There are certain privileged children in the family, they also will be given tea with sugar, because their parents are well off and they are considered creams of the family
After tea, small children will be playing or crying for nothing. Elder ones shall be mastering in the art of naughty actions or irritating other children. some of my cousins would regularly run to several mango trees in the compound to see some ripe mangoes are fallen Each mango tree has been code named with some sweet names according to tastes of mangoes. Some of my cousins are expert tree climbers; they climb up, to pluck some mangoes. Some one shall be visiting under the cashew nut trees from where they collect raw cashew nuts, which will used to play a game or used as cash in exchange for some other novelties like goose berry or match box stickers.
At 7 am. Ladies in the house get ready for their daily bath and laundry work. They join and collect all the cloths for washing. This will be done in the family pond, which is in the compound not far from the house. Like a ritual, each will be carrying a bundle of clothes they will be accompanied by female children of all ages, my cousin sisters. their hair will be sticky with coconut oil, which they apply regularly before bath. It is the secret of their long black hair. Women take this opportunity to have little conversations and some gossips which they very much love to discuss.
Male children usually follow the adults who will be Co-brothers and uncles. The elder children they run fast in order to capture strategic places in the pond, so that they can dive and swim freely. They do it daily, and would often invite some punishments from my grandma who watches them carefully so they that they would not spend more time in the water> if someone bends the rule she will be waiting at the gate with a cane, and sure to get one or two sweet candy with cane.
Next in the agenda is breakfast. Usually items for breakfast will consist of three items. One will be the regular “KANJI” rice cooked in water like porridge, served with chilly tamarind and salt paste called “Chammandhi” or Rice Cakes served with ground green chilly and coconut kernel mixed with salt. Previous days balance of cooked rice put in water and eaten with curd and chilly or pickles also serves as breakfast item. Although, all these are available for breakfast, no choice is provided in availing the items as it is also classified according to financial status of the children. It may sound a bit strange but it had to be done, as not every one in the family can be provided with fine food as members are in large numbers, so this classification is done to please the parents of the children who provide financially for the family.
Around 8.30 children will have their breakfast. by this time, adult members of the family will be ready for breakfast, who will have rice cake and tea. Then women eat. My grandma will be last person to have breakfast in the family. It is also a practice of hers to give a piece of rice cake to all her grandchildren who are nearby, we children will make sure that we are near her at the time of her breakfast.She would end up with eating nothing except her Horllicks.
My first day at home was wonderful. I met about 12 of my cousins there. some of them were very young some were elder to me some were very senior to me. One of my elder cousin sisters made me feel comfortable with her. Although, she was much older to my age, we established a good rapport; she was studying in eight Th standard and second sister of Maniyeattan, who was with us In Mananthawady. Her name Suneeta, who took me to various places in the household. My grandma’s house was a very big house. That type of construction is known as “NAALUKETTU’’ . It has a peculiar architectural style known and famous in Kerala. The clay tile roofed house has four wings and a roofed gate. Roofed gate also is particular style in Kerala. Four winged house has two entrances one at the front and other at the back. On the entrance on the right hand, side there is a raised platform type sit-out. Here it is used for entertaining guests and serves as a podium for performing offerings and dances, especially performed in Kerala. There are many type of dances performed here Most famous one is known as KATHAKALI. (An ancient dance form performed as Dance Drama usually performed by men) then there is another form called MOHINIYATTAM (performed mainly by women and girls) there is another form of dance called THIRUVAATHIRA KALI (Performed by women of all ages) I shall go in detail s in the coming Blogs.
Suneetha chechi (Chechi is word used to show respect to elder sisters) was beautiful and with white complexion and long hair and wide eyes made more beautiful by applying, a homemade eye makeup made out of carbon by burning cotton wick dipped in gin jelly oil
Then smoke is collected in a clean clay pot. The same is mixed in refined caster oil. It is made regularly by women in Kerala for their eye makeup.
More stories follow in the next Blog. I have note completed my notes about NAALUKETTU AND DANCES.,I SHALL WRITE ABOUT IT IN NEXT BLOGS.