MY STORIES --CONTINUE- MY MALAYASIAN COUSINS

a writing by Satheesan Rangorath

MY SPORIES CONTINUE--- MY MALAYASIAN COUSINS
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There is a famous Novelist and short story writer in Malayalam language, (my mother tongue) His name is Sri.M.T.Vasudevan Nair. There are many feathers attached to his cap As a Novelist, short story writer, journalist, editor, columnist, screen play writer Film director, His profile is so big that at this juncture it is not possible to devote much words on him as I would be deviating form the subject He is a versatile personality now in his 70’s living as a social elite in Kerala. He had written a Novel called “NAALUKETTU’’It is a story about a community In Kerala called Nairs.Who was mostly landowners at that time and the society was based in a joint family system. Nairs used to be warriors on service of Kings and rulers of ancient kerala. In appreciation of the service done they used to get favors from the rulers by tax-free land transferred in their name by the kings. In later years, they became property owners and had given the lands for tenancy, and crops sharing. Luxury and easy way of life turned them lazy, and tenants took their lands, pushing them into poverty.

“ Nlukettu” is a style of house construction that prevailed before Britishers colonized in India. This unique architectural style was popular in Kerala.it has an intermixture of Science, social, cultural and spiritual background. As stated before in my previous blog The house has four wings facing north, south, east and west. There will be two entrances one at the front with a roofed gate and a back gate. All the four roofs of the house will join in a central courtyard, which will be open at the top, so that sun and moon lit, stars, air and rainfall do not escape touching the courtyard of the house. The entire nature peeps into your home gracing the texture of living. On the front portion on the right side, there will be a raised platform. Edges of the floor are laden with polished wooden planks, where guests can sit. I do not want to go into details of the architectural styles as I am afraid that story of my story shall be stale. So let me return to my vacation.

After the breakfast we all children when out to play. The sun was dripping fire, as it was April. I met all of my cousins and became friends. There are some more cousins to come on vacation; they are coming from Malaysia, sisters of Maniyettan. .they all will arrive before April 14, as it is a New Year day for some people in Kerala. I looked forward to the prospects of celebrating” Vishu” New year day along with my grandma and cousins. My Malaysian cousins and their parents are on their way sailing in a ship.During that time long haul, flights were rare and people could not afford the cost. Therefore, passenger ships transported people across world. My grandma was very thrilled when she got the telegram about their arrival plans. There were only five days left for their arrival. So she became very busy in arranging the house for her rich son-in-law and daughter. She made special cleaning and white washed whole house. The beds and pillows were Stacked and cleaned by putting it under sun light. Cots got a fresh coat of varnish.Making everything in order she relaxed and waited for their arrival.

Second day of my reaching there at Elappulli, my village, I made it a point to see and Observe all the places I could. Therefore, I made friendship with our servant boy and he took me to all places that he went on errands. That evening we went for shopping vegetables. There was a Friday market in the village selling vegetable and other homemade items. farmers and traders from nearby villages assembled at a particular place in the local governing body ground called “Panchaayath” there was permanent sheds constructed for touring village market. By evening five o, clock our servant boy ‘Chami’ Wore his best half trousers and cotton shirt carrying a big bamboo basket ready for vegetable shopping duty. He approached Grandma for money and instructions for
purchase. She had already prepared a list of items required for that weeks cooking. With permission from grandma, I went along with him. Our house was located on a hilltop surrounded by slops of rock formation. Therefore, chami took my hands while walking, so that I will not fall by slipping on water logged moss formations. We reached the market by a fifteen minutes walk. Oh! It was like a huge carnival place hawkers and merchants shouting at the top of their voices announcing prices of each item loudly. Chami roamed all around the market and asked prices items, but did not buy any. Later I learned from that it was a check on prices, so that the regular trader from whom he buys regularly would not cheat him. I liked the place, as it was a whole lot to offer for my vision. Fresh vegetable are stocked in a certain order. People come to buy several items like Cucumber, ladies finger, Brinjal, pulses, green chilly, radish, beetroot, cabbage, ground nuts, yam, beans, ripe tomatoes, potatoes everyitng was neatly stacked. On other side
Cooking utensils pottery small house hold items like broom, sweep, mirrors etc.The entire village was assembled there. Irrespective of class creed or status. on one side, meat and chicken were on sale. Dried fish was another item that everybody buys. There are some special varieties available including shark, sardine, etc were dried and sold there. I was not interested in fish. I am a vegetarian. My grandma likes to eat fish and chiken.dried fish was bought for her.

Last item of purchase was a stick candy for me. It was like a pink and white stick. It tasted good and sweet. Another item Chami offered to buy for me was cotton candy, which I did not like. Another item interested me, was jaggery made out of
Palm tree sap (Palmyra tree). It tasted very good. I enjoyed it very much. After shopping when we reached home, it was late evening. There were many people returning and coming to the market crossing our front gate. Market will continue up to 9 pm. There was another interesting side of the market, which we did not visit, is a cattle market, where cows and bulls were on sale. I was wondering what was happening there, as there was an occasional whiplash in the air, which produces a big sound. Chami was not in a mood to take me there as we were late, and promised to take me there another day.

When we returned my grandma was at the gate talking to a couple of her acquaintances who chanced to pass through our gate .As we reached, she asked me how the market was and enquired what did I buy. I showed Jaggery called Chakkara, then the stick candy etc.
She was happy to advise me to share it with others and left with chami. After some time I heard her asking prices for each items we had bought and quality of it. She calculated the total price and compared the cash. And balance. After arranging everything in order, I found her tipping some money to chami.

Next day the house was in full swing before I got up. My Malaysian cousins, aunty and uncle are coming the day home. There were big arrangements going on. Readying breakfast, cooking meat and fish. At about 9 am an old Morris Minor stopped In front of our house. Family was getting active. All of us ran to the gate including all sisters and grandma and her sons-in-law. Shortly after a big stout man with a full suit Got out of the car, he was dark in coulour and had a big stomach. He had a peculiar moustache, which I found very funny as it was looking like a beetle sitting on his
Upper jaw just below the nose. They call it a Hitler moustache. It was fashionable at that time. He was wearing a gold rimmed spectacle, followed by him was my aunty; she was spectacular in white skin colour very rosy and beautiful like my grandma. She was wearing an expensive Saree (A six feet long cloth that Indian women wear everyday)Her cheeks were pink and very attractive. Followed her were her three children, my cousins, two girls and a boy all of the were wearing fanciful dresses which I never had seen and my best dress was far coarse than the one they were wearing. Girls were looking cute and similar to dolls that I had seen in pictures. They were talking in a language that I never had heard. It was Malay language. They entered home with an air of superiority
Moreover, was looking at us in a sort of wonder. I was not wearing my shirt and one of my trouser slings had fallen down. I think there two horna peeping down my nose because of climatic change.

My grandma and others were busy entertaining new comers. After bath they all assembled in the guest room, when they came out fresh sprinkling smell of Yardley talcum power and Perfumed soap .At that time I had no idea about Yardley and perfumes. I found them smelling good and wearing soft clothes. Children were taken especially for breakfast and, were served with best of food and boiled eggs and fine things. I found Grandma was paying more attention to my Malaysian cousins. Let me call them as Suni, Saru, and Babu. Boy looked younger than me and was wearing a shoe and fine clothes with pictures of animals on his shirt. Soon I realized I was out of place as we tiny creatures were ignored among them. I was sad that my grandma also did not talk to me often as before. Her attention was fully directed towards her newly arrived grandson and grand daughters. After breakfast, my aunty opened big trunk boxes they brought and was distributing presents. My mother got a saree and father was given a pen every one got a present. I got a pair of used shirts and trousers of Babu.I was a quiet observient to surroundings and to my limitations. This helped me a lot in my life. I never demanded any thing from any body even from my father. So to say, I never was interested in all the so-called good things that other children craved to cherish. I never touch anything, which is not mine or I do not have a right to touch it. My other cousins were busy asking many things from my aunty like old pair of shoes and dresses and slippers, somehow I did not liked the idea so I moved around freely in a manner that others did not approve. However, my aunty and grandma were very appreciative and they often took me as an example of my nature. While writing this After long years of my life, I still can be proud to say I do not owe anything to anybody except God. Certain things that I may write later in my future BLOGS could be about my indebtedness to certain persons, that I remember even now.

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