Herald of absences
Wearing the mask of an old man
Typed his life with one finger
I met him last on a sea shore
Surrounded by crabs
The length of his evening
He has created the heavens
And the earth
With the truth,
And has given you shape
And made your shapes
Beautiful: and to Him
Is the final Return
- The Holy Qur-an
God has endowed man with unique aptitudes, faculties and capacities which raise him at his best to the position of vicegerent on earth. The land between the sea and the trellis of water flowing into it – was a gift to him. Obscure memories form Paleolithic age to modern history made the sands of this town silver white. My quaint little town is gracefully old now.
A small seashore town. Cool, aromatic, antique, brackish, and regal. Two canals end to end of the township, roads and connecting bridges were its signature – quiet, beautiful like my grandma. Both were content, spiritual and loved and ruled us with their heart.
Call for prayer from the Mosques, smells of coir, old pepper, kitchen and salty heat were the day. It ended under the soothing old blanket of my grandma at night. I called her Angumma in my language. I was the favorite spoiled grandchild from an army of different aged grandchildren from her Kingdome. And stories at night were my privilege. My summer holidays were always filled with narrations of her past, Arabic and animal stories.
When about three, my schooling started at home on a Vidhayrambham Day by Teacheramma. An old, tidy and scholarly lady lived alone in a small house nearby. My youngest uncle was like a son to her and later a will bestowed all her possessions to him. As per tradition most of us young ones started writing the first letter on rice by her. Still I can hear Teacheramma’s faint laughter and smell of betel leafs emerging from the dark corners of our ancestral home. Speaking in a slight Tamil accent she too narrated stories and past. In our home, there were always an aura of art, music and literature.
My grandma lost her husband at a very young age. He died of tuberculosis, forcing her to live alone with seven small children. The youngest was only seven months old. Living in that big house, even with her brother was not so easy. The scars those years were made etched to her eyes for ever. Nevertheless, with enormous willpower she kept the life flowing for them. Seasons changed and children got settled but nobody understood the pain and fire she locked away in her core.
It was not the only resemblance of my town with my grandma. Like her, every mark of pain concealed, it lay confined to its past. Many times, I felt they merged inseparable, intervened and surged into the ocean like a stream of roads.
The town rain is a beautiful experience. Sea with mountain like waves, a lighthouse immense in its structure and drenched as a scarecrow, football fields with rain water, coconut trees, bridges – especially Muppalam – the three bridges together near the sea shore, canals, crows, cows, bicycles, cycle rickshaws with its insect like look, lazy people with beedies in their hands, gloomy school children with their wet backpacks, silence, a parasol above the old tranquil structures - all participating in the celebration of monsoon. As an artist molding sculptures in an enormous space, sky with its cloud exhilarated the ambience. Monsoon with its drizzle and fury made everything fresh and sparkling.
My grandma’s mood was always good when raining. She conversed with every drop and comforted them to settle in the new atmosphere of fresh earth. It was nature and mother speaking through the chatter of monsoon. She heard. She understood. She shared.