A Walk Through Memories (Part 4)

(<<< Part-3 || Part-5 >>>)

The pitter-patter of rain is music to my ears as I stir from my sleep. For a moment, I wonder where I am. I look around to see no one near me, and I panic. But the music drifts in through the window, and I feel at home once again, my heartbeats quickly go back to normal.

“Vigneshwara janma nalikeram ninte thrikalkal udakyuvan vannu…” comes the song from the nearby temple.

Lord Ganesha, remover of obstacles and giver of wisdom, I have come to pay obeisance at your feet. Indeed I have, and I used to do just that every day before I went away. I remember when I was a kid; the song that I first heard from the temple on any day would continue to be on my lips for the whole day.

I get up and go to the window. In the distance, I can see the temple. It has got a fresh coating of white paint recently, but the brown tiles of the roofing haven’t changed at all. There are smaller shrines inside the compound, but the main deity is Lord Mahadeva. Even in the drizzle, I can see people heading down the steps into the temple premises, removing their slippers at the steps, or handing them over at the footwear stall. The men take off their shirts too as they enter, as is customary in many temples in Kerala. Even though it is too far to actually see, I can tell there is a smile on every face, some as they recognize their neighbors and friends, some just as amicable greeting. In the area, it’s like every person knows every other person.

By the time I take a bath and get ready to go to the temple, Aarthi and Vidya are done getting ready too. The two pretty girls are in kasavu dresses, white with golden borders… mom in saree and daughter in a frock. We walk toward the temple, only to be greeted by the flower seller on the way.

“Evideyo kanda poley undallo?” he asks, a hint of recognition dawning on his face. Before I can reply, his daughter decides to translate for us.

“Acchan thinks he’s seen you somewhere,” she tells us. She might be twelve or thirteen, her hair in a short ponytail and wearing her school uniform already.

“Njan Aanand, from the bungalow,” I tell them, thankful I don’t need to bring out my mixed English-Malayalam dialogues too much.

He recognizes my name immediately and we talk for a few minutes, the girl, Megha, joining in at times while she makes a garland for us to take along to the temple. Promising to buy one every day while we are at the bungalow, we take his leave and go to the temple.

The ambience of this temple is such that I get lost in its calmness, its devotion and its music. As I enter the inner shrine, I can hear the rhythmic beats of the edaykka drum, its deep notes mixing with the chants of “Mahadevaya namah” or “Om Namah Shivaya” from all around me. I can see the devotees, their palms folded in veneration and eyes closed tight as they utter their prayers, seek his blessings for success and happiness. The sanctum sanctorum itself is closed, the priest preparing the deity for the morning darsan after the usha puja, the prayers during the time of sunrise. I join the devotees and close my eyes.

“Bhagawaane, iniyum korey divasam ivide aaswadhikyan kittan anugrahikename! Nalladu varuthename! Kaathukolane, Mahadeva!”

God, bless me so that I can spend many more days enjoying in my hometown. Bless me so that only good things happen and protect me, oh Lord Shiva. When I open my eyes, I see the sanctorum has opened too, and the sight of the Lord, in all his glory, greets me. There’s nothing as satisfying.

I apply a bit of sandalwood paste to my forehead; take the theertham given to me, along with a smile from the old priest who has no trouble recognizing Aarthi and me, as he was there at our wedding. We go for a pradakshinam, a walk around the boundaries of the temple, and then head back to the bungalow. The edaykka has stopped, as has the rain, but we’re greeted by the music of this little temple town. The tinkle of bells as school children rush past on their cycles, the caws of a crow or two or maybe even more, and from down the road, the clanking of chains as an elephant slowly approaches the temple. A cheerful “Pinne kaanam, Chetaa” falls on my ears and I see Megha waving goodbye as she rides off to school. I hear the honk of a horn as an autorickshaw rolls to a halt near a small hotel, and the morning banter between the driver and the owner of the hotel. Any new news in the neighborhood quickly goes around, and everything is worth discussing.

From the temple, a new song stars to play, and I turn back towards it, fold my palms and say one more quick prayer. I can see Vidya mimicking me too.

We reach the bungalow, and are greeted by Sharada chechy, who has already been to the temple and back, and cooked a delicious breakfast as well. As we help ourselves to boiled kappa and pazham with pappads, an unfamiliar hum joins us. Aarthi and I look at each other and smile, then look at Vidya as she eats, humming the tune of “Vigneshwara janma nalikeram ninte thrikalkal udakyuvan vannu…” to herself.

And in that moment, it feels as if we had never left home at all.

(<<< Part-3 || Part-5 >>>)

Seven days, seven posts, that’s what the Write Tribe Festival of Words is about. There are seven themes for each of the seven days too. I’ve been in and out of writer’s block over the past three months. I’ve not written a story series in ages, so I thought I’d try my hand at that.
This is Part-4. The theme for Day 04 of the festival is Music.

“Vigneshwara janma…” is a devotional song in Malayalam paying respects to Lord Ganesha, the Elephant God, considered as the remover of obstacles and the giver of wisdom. Lord Mahadeva (or Shiva) is Lord Ganesha’s father.
“Edaykka” is an hourglass-shaped drum, a percussion instrument that is played with a stick. It is considered to be a divine instrument and accompanies the Sopanam music during the pujas.
“Pinne kaanam”: See you later. “Kappa”: Malayalam for Tapioca. “Pazham”: Bananas, though for cooking this dish, ripe plantains are used.

(11 Dec, 2013)

Poetry & writing are to me, a breath of fresh air in a life that is sometimes covered by the smoke of sorrow or self doubt. They also become the sweets I share to celebrate when life offers me a reason to. But most of all, they are to me, my life. For each word I write is a piece of my heart, a thought that just had to find its way into the world.

18 thoughts on “A Walk Through Memories (Part 4)”

  1. The detailing Vins 🙂 As in these are little little things we perform unknowingly while at the temple.. you have translated them into words without taking out the beauty and piety of the rituals 🙂

    It is late in the night, but reading this part I feel I have made a visit to the temple already at this hour.. beautifully described.. and we have a name to the narrator.. Aanand 🙂

    • Thanks a ton, Pins! 🙂 These are, as you rightly say, involuntary… imbibed in us like it was meant to happen, and can’t happen any other way. Maybe it is just that I’ve been at the temple, done these things, heard this music… that made it easier for me to bring it to life!

      Temple is closed though, kutties! 😉 The temple closes at 10pm or so. Unless there’s a vilakku (festival). And the narrator already had a name, though it was only put subtly in the last part 😀

  2. Loved how you managed to incorporate music so subtly into the narrative, especially using the sounds of the setting itself rather than opting for a more conventional approach to the prompt…

    • I’m more of a city boy at heart, Jairam. I don’t go to my native town often at all, but the ambience and atmosphere of that temple lives on and strong in me, through these memories. Like I mentioned to Bhagya below, that part is real. So it felt right and happy writing this. Thank you!

  3. We go to our anscestral temple at Goa every year. And though we have never lived in Goa as such there is this powerful feeling of connectivity that I often wonder that is it just because of the familiarity or have I been there in some previous birth. Temples can at once bring peace and stability, I feel.

    • Kind of the same feeling here, Bhagya 🙂 The temple and its ambience is not completely fictional here. They’re my memories of my “kudumbakshetram” too (ancestral temple!). These thoughts are just very relaxing and they stay with me no matter how few times I’ve actually been there.

  4. I stand in awe at the way you go into the details! Honestly. That’s one of the first things I’ve noticed about you from the beginning. You’re attention to detail is truly enviable.
    Pinne, kappa pazham and pappadam is a combo I’ve never had.
    Loved loved loved that ending note… how she was singing to herself and how Aanand felt like they’d never left home at all.
    On another note, do you miss home a little bit more while writing such a story?

    • Glad you liked my attention to details, Bhavs! 🙂 Kappa, pazham and pappadam is a nice combination. You don’t have to mix all three da 😛 😉 Glad you liked the ending note too 🙂

      There are some memories of home that are always, always near to my heart. So yes, it does make me miss home a little bit more!

  5. This is really sweet… details you added of little things and casual conversation makes all your characters come alive. I wonder, if you know what’s going on in reader’s mind?
    I am sure, you know… you have an absolute way with writing 🙂

    • Thanks, Sims 🙂 I don’t know what’s going on in my readers’ minds. I just know what I want to put into their minds through my story. Glad that works 😀

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