The mortar machine

It was a hot day in February. The sky was clear. From the car park to the building was a five minutes walk. The car park was just an open space. It was empty. I stepped out of my car and looked around. There was not a soul in sight. The terrain was hilly and a strong wind blew, palpably loud against the profound silence of these desolate hills. It seemed to have travelled far through picturesque landscapes that these hills seemed to conceal, and in its unbridled journey through the boughs of solitary trees and the pastures of wild grass, it seemed to speak of mysterious lands, untouched and untamed. The leaves rustled and the grass bowed, as if in acknowledgement of what the wind had just whispered to them…

Nature’s little secret!

A strong wind blew, caressing the wild grass that grew rampantly here...

I walked a little, only to stop and stare in awe at what I saw. In the profound solitude of these hills, it was not fear that I felt. Instead, there was a strange comfort in this palpable absence of human manipulation of nature. Here, the grass grew wild. Golden yellow grass that stretched out infinitely, draping the earth softly. In the distance, I could see cashew trees and other vegetation that was characteristic of these hills.


This summer sky….the earth, baked brown in its heat…this soft yellow blanket of wild grass…

It reminded me of the description of the Brabant in Vincent van Gogh’s biography, ‘Lust for life’. It was impossible to believe that there was a building just five minutes away…that there were people in that building. This place was so raw that it seemed to retain something of the wild, natural world that existed once upon a time. It recreated the feel of the desolate hills of North Kerala I had witnessed as a child…the feel of the Andes mountains I had read about…the feel of rural Holland of the van Gogh era. That wild spirit that binds places distant geographically…that binds eras separated infinitely…that connects us to the soul of the earth- a soul that spills into all its parts…a soul that remains the same in its essence, despite the passage of time.

Solitary trees spoke untold stories...


I was amused by the sight of a mortar machine, right in the middle of this wild grassland. It stood in solitude, as if narrating a story that lay beneath its mysterious presence here. I felt connected to it by the solitude that embraced us at this point in time.

A solitary traveller, who had broken out of the conventional path of life, and this inanimate object, long abandoned, but glowing with the story of a significant life once lived.

A mortar machine stood in solitude, as if narrating its story of a life once lived...

It endowed character to this wild terrain and the wilderness embraced its being with ease. There was a strange chemistry between them that seemed to impart to it a sense of belonging.

Somehow, it seemed to belong here...

The wind blew hard and loud. Yes, I had heard what nature whispered to me here on this day. I could feel the story unfolding within me- of desolate hills where the sun colored the earth in copper and bronze and gold…of solitary trees that celebrated their being in silence…of a solitary old, mortar machine that stood in gay abandon…
A peculiar array of elements that didn’t seem to fit in together…
And yet, as I looked at the whole picture, they seemed to fit in perfectly with each other…

For together, they completed the story…


4 thoughts on “The mortar machine

    1. Dear Mini,
      I am hoping some day, you will visit Kannur. In the course of my stay here, I have discovered places that retain something of the old world charm…places that are so raw that they connect you profoundly to something deeper, older and ancient…to a soul that belongs to the natural world that has been obscured by this process of ‘development’. Yes, a pang is what I felt when I stood there, taking in this sight. I was glad I had carried my camera!


    Incredible narrative. Definitely leaves a indelible mark on reader’s perception. I could imagine myself at that place. Thanks dear Vidya. Keep writing and sharing. Regards.

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