The alchemy of womanhood

Woman…

When I was a child, ‘woman’ signified nothing more than a gender distinction.

When is it that a girl grows up to be a woman?

Biologically, adolescence marks this transformation. But emotionally, it takes much more than adolescence to grow into the spirit of a woman. For ‘woman’ represents a higher order of emotional potential. The roles conferred on her by society and by nature demand a greater degree of maturity and resilience. A woman has a long journey ahead of her, in the quest for equilibrium.

I look at my own self and realize that I have undergone a silent metamorphosis in recent years. As life unfolds, the realization of how intricate the relationship between woman and society is, dawns upon me.

Given the complexity of a woman’s life, she persistently finds herself at the interface of conflict. The battle between being true to herself, and yet sustaining the integrity of society. A woman’s emotional make-up is of a more complex nature, and for its healthy sustenance, it banks on the integrity of society. The more fragmented a society is, the more complex is the nature of the consequent conflict generated in a woman’s life. It is therefore not surprising that many women are pushed to rebellion. That is but human. But how many of us would have the ability to expand the horizons of our mind, live on our own terms, and yet not disrupt the integrity of society?

It is in this context that my mind gropes for a reference that defines ‘woman’ for me.

In the modern world, there is the dire deficiency of such role models. One cannot find such references in celebrities of the modern world nor can one find references in day-to-day life. There is nothing of value I see in the glamorous lives of most women today. Nor is there anything of value in the women who don masks of traditionalism, embracing age-old traditions that earn them medals of morality and character. Like Anita Nair wrote in her book, the blood-red vermilion on their foreheads is nothing short of an emblem of their traditionalism and marital status.
A traditionalism that permeates no deeper than the surface of their skin.

My mind wanders to the past. Images of women come to my mind. Women in the villages and cities of India. On television screens and in real life. Women who nurtured traditionalism in their spirits. Traditionalism far removed from conservatism. Traditionalism that spilled into the external facets of their personality. They were women carved by the richness of the emotional spectrum of their lives. They were women with melancholic eyes for their eyes spoke of sorrows and struggles. But beneath those melancholic eyes, something vital glistened. It was this feminine spirit that defined ‘woman’ for me.

Like lamps lit up at dusk, the vitality of their souls lit up the darkness in their lives.

As I encounter circumstances and situations that pose emotional challenges of a more complex nature in my own life, I ask myself what it is that I want. And it is with peace that I choose acceptance of my circumstances. I now know that true freedom is within the mind. I choose to expand the horizons of my mind and act on more mature terms.

As impulsive disquiet and rebellion slowly give way to freedom and happiness, I find myself slowly stepping into the shoes of a ‘woman’.

Be a little more feminine. Not only does the woman have to be liberated from men, the man has also to be liberated from men. There is a great need for a men’s liberation movement – not liberation from women, but liberation from all the nonsense that has been taught to him down the ages: Be hard! Be steel! Don’t bend! Break but don’t bend! Man has been taught to be hard like a rock – man has missed much. And now women are following in the same tracks. It is a dangerous situation. If the woman also follows the man, she will be a second-rate citizen, she will never be equal to man. And not only that: if she follows man and becomes hard, as lib women ARE becoming – their faces are becoming hard, their bodies are losing roundness, softness, vulnerability, they are becoming more and more angry and less and less loving – the danger is that that will be the end of the whole of humanity, if it happens. The only hope for humanity is in the quality of feminine – the only hope. The hope is not with Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini: the hope is with Buddha, Chaitanya, Meera – with a totally different kind of people. And we have to turn men and women BOTH into a kind of feminine lovingness.

Osho

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Being a Writer…

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Paper and pen- they are my most precious possessions. 

There is that moment of perception- that moment when the mind brims with this perception, unable to contain it. There is excitement and there is restlessness. There is the urgency to deliver the perception…

That moment when a thought is first conceived in the mind.

As the mind carries it, there is a certain anxiety. Will the thought deliver itself? What form will it take? Will it be beautiful?

There are times when it aborts. I put pen to paper, struggle for words, strike off lines in discontentment, and eventually give up.

And then there are times when there is the joy of effortless writing. There is no groping for words, there are no pauses. It is a river flowing- effortlessly. On such occasions, the pen struggles for it has to keep pace with the flow of thoughts.

The paper that I write on is like a temple to me. As I put pen to paper, it is like lighting a lamp, with a prayer in my heart. Sometimes, the Goddess condescends and takes abode in my mind transiently, and I experience the joy of creation. At other times, she chooses to remain distant, and I end up writing something that fails to give me any joy at all.

After all, creation can never be a ‘consciously devised arrangement’.

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The journey of a thought, from the time we have conceived it, is very much like a pregnancy. There is excitement, restlessness, happiness, turbulence, anxiety, impatience and every emotion that characterizes pregnancy. There are also desperate moments wherein one is unable to cope with the state it evokes, longing to break free from this state.

Art is like one’s baby; we give birth to it. While we contain it within ourselves, there is the profound awareness of something beautiful within, but we are unaware of what physical form it shall take. Until the time we deliver it, we do not know what we contain.

 

The writer’s journey is also one of slow maturity. A writer matures as writing illuminates for him dark pockets of his unconscious that he knew not existed within him. Through these revelations, a writer is able to access the Universal knowledge. His journey of writing takes him through those moments wherein the thin veil that separates him from the universe lifts momentarily, revealing facets of life that are not evident in the routine course of his life. He learns to bring to visibility the invisible interconnections that bind him to the universe, making him part of a greater whole. And thus, the horizons of his writing expand as he learns to see life and the world from this pedestal. A writer thus transcends his own barriers. He liberates himself from the entrapment of conditioning and imbibes the wisdom that the universe instills in him.

Quoting writer Kamala Das :

One’s real world is not what is outside him. It is the immeasurable world inside him that is real. Only the one who has decided to travel inwards, will realize that his route has no end. Our ends, our real destinations, are our beginnings.

 

These paths-6

She stood in front of me, smiling. I blinked.

Eight years had passed. It was unbelievable. But today, as she stood in front of me, smiling as she always used to, I felt nothing had changed. The years in between vanished from memory. I felt as if I had never left Anjarakandy.

You haven’t changed!’, she said to me.

Neither have you’, I replied.

I have a baby now!’, she said to me.

I know’, I said.

You never kept in touch! I tried contacting you on so many occasions. Your number had changed. I even thought of visiting your house to get in touch, but I thought you might have locked up the house and gone’, she complained.

Life changed a lot, you see. It was a tough battle. The situation was worse than it was when I used to work here. I just found myself drifting with the flow’, I replied.

I remember how it was for you’, she sighed.

We were both silent for a moment, lost in reflections of the past.

Dad passed away. In 2011’, I continued.

We talked about life after Anjarakandy. I told her about the events surrounding my father’s death.

What about your father?’, I asked.

He passed away too. In sleep. It was a good death.

I nodded. I remembered her account of her life with her father. He had never given the family a moment’s peace. I couldn’t believe there could be fathers like that. Her brother had taken his place. He used to run the household from a young age. The clashes between father and son were severe. The son would walk away and the father would vent out his anger on the women. The women were the ultimate victims. They had learnt to accept it as their lot. They had reconciled with the fact that it was a man’s world.

How about ECG ummumma’?, I asked her.

She laughed.

You remember her? She passed away too’. She replied.

How could I forget her? The lady who had put to good use the ECG recording and used it to fuel the chulha! How could one forget her?’, I replied.

So how is your married life? How does it feel to be married?’, I asked her.

I think the best life is to have the luxury of solitude. My husband is a good man. So are his parents. But marriage has brought with it responsibilities that I had never anticipated. Also struggle of a different kind’, she replied.

The first question many people asked me was about marriage. Lakshmanettan was the worst. He wouldn’t just let go of the topic!’, I said.

Why can’t people leave others alone? There is a throbbing and bleeding mind within each one of us. Only we are aware of how it throbs and bleeds. And so, we are the best judges of what we want in life. Why can’t people understand this?’, she introspected.

I was surprised by her maturity.

Lakshmanettan still lives in the old world, Fousiya. He means well, but he doesn’t realize that times have changed and people have changed dramatically. Relationships and marriages are no longer what they used to be’,  I said.

Yes, that is true. He still lives in the old world’, she repeated.

At times, it is fun to answer these questions. Usha sister had asked me the same question. She had advised me that it wouldn’t be easy at times when one needs help and support. To that I had replied-

It certainly isn’t easy now either. I feel both marriage and singlehood come with their own set of risks and problems. It is just a matter of which type of risk one is willing to take. You were more comfortable with taking the risk of marriage and I was more comfortable taking the risk of being single.

She didn’t say anything further’, I stated.

Her jaw must have dropped’, she replied.

You bet!’, I said.

We both laughed aloud.

After you left, I lost my laughter. I didn’t realize, but the other sisters would always say that I had changed after you left and that I rarely laughed’, she said.

I was touched by her warmth. Her ability to preserve the sanctity of those moments. The truth in her emotions. Something I miss in modern times. Something that I feel only when I watch an old movie. She was full of old memories. I could hear their tinkle in her mind. I always feel drawn to people who cherish memories and talk about them with nostalgia. I feel they are capable of much good. Lohithadas had said that too.

How much we used to laugh when you were here. Remember Subeesh? What a team we were. So much so that the Nursing Superintendent had shifted me from the Medicine Department because she couldn’t bear to see us so happy’, she recollected.

But that didn’t kill our happiness. We found our own ways to get past all those hurdles. In truth, we were knee deep into problems, but that made us cherish these moments all the more’, she added.

I was silent. The silence that communicated the joy of those years. The memories that I guard in the sanctum sanctorum of my mind. That phase of my life could have found a place in Basheer’s novel.

I tried committing suicide’, she said.

I snapped out of my reverie.

What? When? Why?’, I asked.

My engagement was called off. I had got into a long-distance relationship. A relative had introduced me to him. We had never met, but we used to speak for long hours. I grew dependent on those conversations. Our families went ahead with the engagement and a date was fixed. My brother arranged for all the gold. We had our house painted. At work, everybody knew. After Ramzan, he came down for the wedding. When we finally met up, he said I looked very different from what he had seen of me in the picture. He backed off. There were no further conversations. I had got used to them. I couldn’t bear the void I felt within and on an impulse, I swallowed some pills. I was at work then and I managed to get hold of a random assortment of pills. Antibiotics, antihistaminics and whatever I could get my hands on. I fainted and was admitted. Nothing happened though. I was discharged after a day of observation. I applied for medical leave and was home for quite some time. Those days were probably the worst times in my life. I couldn’t lift my spirits. People in the neighbourhood were making up stories about my wedding being called off. Eventually, I decided to get back to work. I was in need of distraction. I had never wanted to get married thereafter, but my brother wouldn’t marry until I was married. There was a lot of pressure, and I eventually gave in to an arranged marriage. I talked to my husband about this tragedy and he was very accepting and considerate. And thus, I got married. But I hadn’t come out of my misery. Misery slowly gave way to numbness. But my husband was accommodating. He left to Dubai after a month’, she explained.

My husband is nice. So are his parents. But the financial responsibility of the family is on him. He has two siblings. Also, he suffers from Obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome. Until then, I hadn’t even known that something like that existed. I thought that was the end of my world. It took a long time to come to terms with that. Eventually, I spoke to a lot of doctors, read up articles on the internet and consulted physicians. I saved up enough to buy a CPAP for him. Also, I got to know a few others who suffer from this syndrome. That gave me some consolation. My husband always feels he couldn’t give me any happiness. But I tell him that my priorities are different. That he understands me and trusts me is most important to me. He would often push me for a divorce, but I would convince him eventually. Things are better now’, she concluded.

My eyes welled up with tears.

I took up BA English distance education. I cleared my first set of papers’, she said to me triumphantly.

I held her hand and said to her, ‘Fousiya, I think your life is beautiful. It is rich for it is so full of meaning. The little steps you both take to overcome the obstacles in your life and materialize your dreams, will add value to all your achievements. I remember my PG days. They had been so full of struggle. There was so much pressure from home and from my HOD. But when I eventually got my degree, there was a special sweetness to that degree. So don’t ever give up.

She nodded. ‘Why are HODs like that? Our department HOD is also the same. She tortures her PG. The PG is a very nice girl. She is a divorcee and has a child. Despite all her problems, she works hard and does a good job. But the HOD always finds fault with her work. Sometimes she goes into her room and cries for hours. I console her and give her as much encouragement as I can. Why can’t people spread happiness? Why is it necessary to blow out somebody’s happiness in order to feel happy?’, she wondered aloud.

The world is like that, Fousiya. BTW, what should I get for you from home?’, I asked.

You don’t get me anything. I will make something for you one of these mornings. Remember the time you had come home for Ramzan? Those days were so much fun. We used to go out so often’, she said.

We can go out now as well. But what about your baby? Wouldn’t it be difficult?’, I asked.

No. He loves going out’, she replied.

In that case, we will go out. I must try getting in touch with Sri Devi too. I can never forget our trip to the paddy fields in Rasna’s village’, I said.

Are you writing anything these days? You used to write so much!’, she said.

‘Oh yes! I just finished writing my first book. But it will take time for it to be published. Perhaps next year’, I said.

I still remember my first day in Anjarakandy. The day I had started writing. The most beautiful day in my life.

Oh! That is so nice! Am I a character in that book?’, she asked.

No, Fousiya. This is a book on Malayalam Cinema’, I said.

Oh! You always said that I would certainly be a character in your book’, she said to me.

Yes. You will be a character in my second book. There is enough of life in you to be a character in a book. My second book will certainly be set against the backdrop of Anjarakandy. It will explore my bittersweet relationship with this place. Somehow, it reminds me of Shivapuram village in the film Mazha– the village that Bhadra is attached to. Nashtapetta Neelambari. Anjarakandy is truly that to me’, I replied.

We spoke some more, trying to remember every little perception that had created ripples in our mind.

In the evening, as I drove back home, I hugged this feeling. This ripple in my mind. This tinkle of memories. How else can I describe it? I drove past groves that were so dense that not much sunlight penetrated into them. Only the hum of crickets and the chirping of birds could be heard in their silence. I passed quaint little shops with wooden planks for shutters. They hadn’t lost their rustic charm. Age had made them beautiful. I passed paddy fields. I passed old gardens that continued to believe in the beauty of common flowers- hibiscus, rose, mandaram, jasmine and chethi (jungle flame), to name a few. The Anjarakandy river was not far away. This rendezvous with these old paths had now become a significant part of my day-to-day life here. They transported me back in time. For they remained the way I remembered them. Time hadn’t done too much damage to them.

These were my thoughts then:

Some stories cannot begin where they ended. The end is the end. It is a permanent closure. For people change, circumstances change and we ourselves change.

Change irreparably.

 And so, I am still reeling under the effect of this strange continuum of a long forgotten story in my life. Like I once wrote, I was never really comfortable with change. I long for people and places to retain their raw charm. I feel a deep sense of loss when circumstances and the battle with life robs them of this rawness and peels off their warmth, sensitivity and vulnerability- elements that define this rawness.

It is gratitude I feel. I feel grateful for this ability to feel. Grateful for the kind of people who have touched my life. Grateful for the beautiful memories. Grateful for this warmth that surrounds me here at Anjarakandy.

 

The halo of a firefly

Night sets in, and there is darkness all around. It is a pitch-dark night with brief spells of rain. There is no moonlight. I feel lonely and miserable as I count the hours.

And then somewhere in that darkness, a tiny halo of light flickers. It is the halo of a firefly. It doesn’t dispel the darkness, but it comforts me.

A soothing reminder of a warm presence.

As I follow its warm glow with my eyes, it lights up the darkness in my heart. The halo is all it has to comfort me.

To make its presence felt.

To offer me something in the way of a palpable companionship.

It makes the darkness bearable. It makes the darkness beautiful.

 

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The worm briefly settles on my palm and glows. I stand still, mesmerized by this tiny creature. The worm resumes its flight and settles on the window. I can see its tiny flicker as it moves on the window sill.

 

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I walk towards the window and draw the curtains. I gasp as I look out. In the pitch darkness of this monsoon night, there are a million fireflies glowing.

They are all over. On the trees, on the bushes, on the grass.

They look like little decoration lights studding the trees.

 

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The lyrics of an old song come into my mind and I find myself asking:

Into whose fantasy were conceived these mystic creatures that lit up the darkness and transformed the landscape into a fairy-tale world?

As I watched these creatures that had transformed this night into fantasy, the truth about contrasts dawned upon me:

It takes the pitch darkness of a monsoon night to bring to visibility the tiny halo of a firefly. In the darkness, I could see the abundance in its tiny glow.

 

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Fireflies are part of my oldest memories. They are part of that beautiful world that fed my young mind with rich fantasy. I remember the times we would catch these fireflies and bottle them up in a jar, feeling rich. To own one of these mystic creatures was quite something! In the morning, we would be utterly disappointed to see unattractive little insects in the jar. It was impossible to believe that this mystic creature of the night had transformed into a worthless, unattractive creature by day!

 

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The Indian Satire

The 11th of June, 2016: Tree Survey Kannur.

 

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This is a sequel to my post ‘Green thoughts’.

There is a strange disquiet within me as I write this post.

Why are we Indians so laid-back when it comes to matters of real significance? Is it that we are lazy and all our passion and zeal evaporates into thin air when it comes to executing our ideas? Or is it that we do not attribute much significance to the planning and organization that is crucial in the execution of an idea? Or is it just that we do not give an idea the due merit and seriousness that it deserves? Are we perhaps carried away by the other aspects of such a task that are more emotionally appealing to us than the central goal that we ought to be committed to?

I do not know the answer to this question, but what I do know is that these factors revolving around the implementation of an idea are as important (probably more important) as the idea itself.

For in their absence, an idea remains just that- an invisible piece of thought in our minds. It spills in occasionally into the statements we make or the speeches we deliver. But in due course, it dies a natural death. It never realizes its potential in the real world.

 

I still remember our meeting on World Environment Day– the day we officially formed the Tree Conservation Committee. The passion of the committee members had been infectious. They had both knowledge and experience to act upon. My hopes with regard to conserving what remains of the forests, orchards, wetlands and trees of Kannur district, were renewed. It was evident in that meeting that we were here for a common goal and that we were committed to its cause. There could be no vested interest in this.

 

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‘Tree survey’ had been our first step.

I loved the idea. Conduct a survey of the trees in the territory from Chovva junction to Caltex junction- a stretch of road that had once been fringed by trees in abundance. We fixed a date for the survey. Somebody suggested putting up a small post in the newspaper to attract public attention to the act. We could perhaps generate a few volunteers that way. Following the survey, a detailed report would be provided to the District Collector in order to trigger a political initiative for the project that aimed at conserving existing trees and at identifying suitable spots for the planting of trees.

 

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On the decided day, we all gathered at Chovva junction. I was a little disheartened to see a very small group, largely made up of the same individuals who had been at the meeting. The newspaper intimation had been conveniently forgotten. Our group members arrived in a slow, laid-back manner. The whole event had the feel of a chore in a laid-back government office in India. The zeal that characterized our meeting was palpably absent. We made a slow start. We chose a spot where a tree had been recently cut in order to widen the road. That tree had been rooted into our memories of Chovva junction. It was a massive tree with branches that spread out and provided cover to a large area of the junction. It reminded me of what someone once said:

You cannot go to the market and buy shade for one lakh rupees.

 

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We put up a banner and the members took turns to address the public. Some of the speeches were deeply inspiring, but the tragedy was that the public demonstrated no interest. People looked on in amusement as they walked past or sped by in their vehicles, but no one bothered to lend an ear. Also, I was amused by some of our group members who were busy clicking and getting themselves clicked. Eventually, when the speeches ended and it was time to start the procession, many of our group members started to leave. Most of them had only come for the inauguration. They bid farewell and we were now a very small group on our mission.

As we started the procession, I was further amused by what was happening. The group had split into pairs. Only one pair was making a serious note of the trees, their age, location, condition, etc. The rest were busy talking about things that were far more interesting than the subject that we were meant to address. A few older people were at least educating us youngsters on environmental concerns and facts.

A tree stood by a tea stall. One of my friends went into the tea stall and asked for a tea. As the group moved ahead, he said to us, “You guys carry on. I will join you shortly.” I laughed and said to him, “This reminds me of a Sathyan Anthikad movie.” He laughed.

 

Truly, it did. Remember ‘Manasinakkare’? A CPM worker (Sukumari) retorts to her spouse (Oduvil Unnikrishnan):

‘Why should I listen to what the leaders had to say in their speeches? My task was to show the party’s strength by representing numbers. I did that. This was the best opportunity to visit all the temples I had been longing to visit. We had enough time to pray in peace. In the evening, by the time the party vehicles were back to pick us up, we were ready.’

 

I suppose that is what we did in this survey. Many of us proclaimed our contribution by being present. And that was the end of it.

The coordination between us was also very poor. We had no idea what was being recorded and how the main members went about the assessment. I had hoped for it to be educative, at the least. I had hoped that it would at least provide me enough experience to conduct a little survey on my own in a different group in another locality. But we were highly dismantled.

At one point, we couldn’t spot our team members. We called them on their mobile and to my amusement, they had apparently dropped into a hotel. It was half past twelve. Everybody started talking about lunch. I called it a day and went back to work.

At the end of the survey, nobody talked about the observation, conclusion, setbacks or lacunae. A newspaper reporter was informed and he turned up dutifully to take a picture of the team. The report matter was subsequently mailed to him by one of the members.

Wonderful experience, right?’, people said to each other.

Of course’, they replied in consensus.

There could be no disagreement on that. After all, we had made a task list and the first item on this task list could now be conveniently ticked off. In any case, that was all we cared about.

This morning, I was amused by the picture in the newspaper. ‘District tree conservation committee conducts tree survey in Kannur’, it read. It went on to explain the details of the survey in all seriousness and I couldn’t but help laughing!

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Stills from the desert

 

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Rajasthan…

A kingdom coloured by the sun…

Rajasthan, baked and draped in gold, copper and bronze…

 

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Rajasthan, an assortment of canvases…

Canvases that are still, depicting the slow pace of life here…

A sun that has diminished the pace of life with its heat…

Slow strides of man and beast, across the vast expanse of sandy dunes…

Man and beast, resigned to the heat…

 

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Women draped in bright coloured clothes- bright kurtas, flowing skirts, bright dupattas framing their faces and covering their heads, bangles adorning their arms generously…

Men in bandhni turbans, some sporting thick moustaches…

They move together in processions, in a silent journey across the desert.

 

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Against the backdrop of a pale desert, these processions constitute images from a canvas, give character to the desert and breathe life into it.

A quiet birthday party

The 22nd of March, 2008.

 
The phone rings, and even as I wake up from sleep, I know it is N.

N taunts me because I want to get myself a toy duck for my birthday. That bright yellow toy duck that floats in water. The one that babies play with, in the bathtub.

What do I want to do with it? I want to put it in a glass dish filled with water, put in some frangipani flowers too, and savour the perception!

 
When N has had his fill of pulling legs, he wishes me happy birthday and hangs up. I decide to go back to sleep. I hear the sound of the rain outside. I open the window. The sky is thick with dark clouds and the rain is a steady drizzle. The trees are a lush green- the tropical green that I write about so often. I decide not to waste such a heavenly morning on sleep. For it is summer, and who ever expected rains at this time of the year? These are much more than summer showers. They have done a lot of damage to crops in various parts of the state, but that can’t kill my moment now. So I run outdoors, colliding with mom on the way. Mom and Dad wish me happy birthday.

 
I run outdoors and embrace the rain. The raindrops soak me, and I feel cold. It is a chill that I love and cherish.

 

To me, water is nature’s love. Ponds, rivers and lakes are nature’s love harnessed to soothe the woes of the earth. But the rain is a shower of fresh love from the heavens. So I wrap myself up in this love. I celebrate this love with the trees that are as soaked as I am. I can perceive their happiness just as they can perceive mine.

 

The rain turns lighter, and I go back indoors.

 
Today, mom puts in some fragrant herbs into the water that is set for my bath. The herbs bathe me in their fragrant freshness. I also love the aroma of incense sticks and camphor that floods the house.
I love jasmine flowers. They do not go with the shampooed, silky strands of my hair, but from a raw perspective, there is something beautiful about this oddity.

 
I think of my cousin’s grandmother- a lady who must be in her eighties. She can’t bear to see girls of my age, bare of flowers and gold, on birthdays and other occasions! I ask her how birthdays were in her times. And she enthusiastically recollects the details.

A bath in the pond that would be in the premises of the house. New clothes and jewellery. Sandal paste on the forehead. Flowers adorning the damp hair. Prayers and offerings in the temple. Coins gifted by the elders. The age-old tradition of the pulluvan pattu.

Her eyes are misty with the recollection.

 

Pulluvan is a male member (female- Pulluvatti ) of a low caste group called Pulluvar.

Most of the art forms of the Pulluvar are ritualistic. Most of their songs are related to worship, ritual, custom and exorcism. The pulluva art is expressed in the background of snake-worship, ghost worship and magic. One group among these people consider the snake gods as their presiding deity and perform certain rituals such as sacrifices and song singing. This is called ’Pulluvan Pattu’. This is performed in the houses of the lower castes as well as those of the higher castes, as well as in serpent temples.

The musical instruments used by the Pulluvar are pulluvan veena (a one stringed violin), pulluvan kutam (earthernware pot with on string attached to it) and thaalam (bell-metal cymbals). These instruments are made by the Pulluvar themselves.

 

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The ritualistic pulluvan pattu

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulluvan_Paattu

 

Today, mom made payasam for me and dad promised to bake a cake for me in the evening! I suppose these simple gestures of parental love that we almost overlook are the ones that will be most missed in their absence.

Deficiency brings to light the true value of things.

 
Today, I decide to pamper myself. I do not have a social network here in Kerala. So, I do what I love the most here. I take a boat-ride in the rain! It is a long row-boat, with wooden planks to sit on, and as the boatman rows, the slow splish-splash of the oars sets a rhythm to the ride. The rain is a light drizzle now, and raindrops fall on the river, creating little ripples. The bank is fringed by coconut palms that gracefully bow to the river.

 

Am I in the middle of paradise? I feel indebted for this valuable gift that is life. This opportunity to experience the splendour and glory of this world.

 

The boatman smiles at me. The rain is singing happy birthday. All around me, I can hear music. The world is singing happy birthday.

 
This world is indeed paradise. It is like a beautiful film. And life is a ticket, dispensed by nature, to the chosen few. Happy birthday to me!