The title of this post is the very first Malayalam words i have ever used on this blog, which stands for, "My Grandmother and Grandfather"
When i was 3 years old, i got a very severe attack of Bronchial Asthma. My dad was posted in Calcutta then. Each trip to the hospital was hoped to be the last, but the Asthma kept getting worse, i don't remember much about the disease, except being injected with needles in both hands all through the day, with tubes all over my body and running around in the hospital hall and playing with the other kids there, until the Doctor came on his rounds. Then we all had to be "Good children" and lie on our beds for the next 5 minutes.
After being hospitalised for a month,with no sign of recovery, the only solution, was to take me to a less polluted city. And so, Trivandrum became my home for the next 6 years. I stayed along with my Ammu and Appu.
Ammu and Appu had a nice big house with hens and dogs and a huge compound with trees. 3 year old me was in heaven. And it goes without saying, i was spoilt rotten.
My Ammu has six siblings in total and my Appu had three. All of them came home everyday of every week armed with toys and chocolates. I titled myself "Princess Hemagiri" and bossed over all the grown-ups. (Hemagiri is the name of Ammu and Appu's house by the way)
Taking me to school everyday was my Appu's job. I used to cry all the way from home till the front gate of the school, then dragged Appu along with me to my classroom, gripping his fingers with one hand and stuffing a handkerchief inside my mouth with the other hand.
Every Friday, Appu did a pooja for me at a Ganesha temple, the Prashad was some sweetened bananas, which i ate like a pig, without sharing with anyone, not even Appu.
Saturdays was Rasna day. Appu used to mix the Rasna powder along with the water concentrate in a huge steel vessel. Next he poured it into glass bottles and stored them all away in the "meatsafe" (a cupboard with loads of junk food). Next me and him drank a glass each of Rasna, with very little water and loads of the Rasna. Highly concentrated sugar syrup, in other words.
Sunday was Fun-Day in Appu land. His definition of a peg of alcohol was very warped. He had one huge elephant sized glass, which he never washed and he gluged 2 pegs (4 pegs considering the size of the glass) along with sweetened peanuts, fried peanuts, roasted peanuts and various varieties of the peanut possibly invented by mankind.
Ammu was in charge of feeding, dressing, making me do home work, taking me to temples etc. And each ritual had to be done keeping in mind various factors. For example, my hair had to be standing on my head like a rocket-spider, the pony must come in the middle of my head (resembling a rocket) and spread out around my head (resembling the legs of a spider). Breakfast had to be fed to me ONLY after wearing my tie and not before wearing my socks.
And as for the temples, i lost track of how many i went to with Ammu. Even now in fact, when i go to some of the temples in Kerala, the poojaris look at me, smile and ask "Indira ammede kochu molle alle?" which means are'nt you Mrs Indira's granddaughter?
I slept between Ammu and Appu till i was 10 years old. It was my job to switch off the lights and cover them both with bedsheets.
To make a long story short, Ammu and Appu became my everything. So, when Dad got posted to Chennai and it was decided that I'd come and live with Mom and Dad, my world came crashing around me. I couldn't leave my Hemagiri and everything inside it. I begged mum and dad to just leave me alone and go away. But, every child has to live with her parents eventually, so i was introduced to the city of Chennai and the Cooum River.
As the years flew by, i remembered less and less of Malayalam, the city of Trivandrum and i began missing my Ammu and Appu lesser and lesser.
The yearly trips to Trivandrum during X-Mas hols and summer vacation was always done with a hope of coming back to my adopted home-town as soon as possible.
My Appu passed away when i was in the 11th standard. It came as a shock to the entire family because he was only 77, walked everyday, drove around in his Maruti 800 and brought groceries and fish for the house, managed all the finances and the plumbing, fed the dogs and the fishes everyday, tinkered around with the pump attached to the well.. It was not his time, it was just NOT his time. My faith in God went down completely, I became an Atheist, refusing to even look at the prayer room in the house.
I had dreams of Appu very often and i heard his voice calling out my name. Either i didn't want to let him go, or he was still around. I want to believe he was still around, trying to console me.
Ammu now, had to live all alone in that big house. And i felt guilty because i didn't want to live in Trivandrum anymore, i wanted to keep my Ammu company but i just couldn't.
2 hours ago i called Ammu and spoke to her. After hanging up, i cried for 45 minutes, because she sounded very weak.
I wonder whether I'm leading a selfish life, i wonder if i should go back to my roots and look after the things and the individuals who were instrumental for my being here today.