[Warning- Long post ahead]
The past few days have had me waking up with a dream of Veliveed- my maternal ancestral house. With the superwoman talking abt Delhi-5 and Mathew’s antics at kudumbaprarthana, taking us on a trip down their memory lane, both of which I identify with, I thought I shall also follow suit.
Veliveed is thankfully not the family name but a name coined by my cousin J. Many years back when J’s was a cute little boy and shifting with his family he called the house which had Ammachi and Appachan and which was bigger- Veliyaveed and his house which was smaller as Kunjuveed. Soon the name shortened to became Veliveed and that became the official name of the ancestral house. Velliveed is very strategically located- on a slope with a graveyard on its right (meaning some of the neighbours were perennially (in high) spirits!).
Veliveed takes maximum space in my ‘childhood’ drive. Summer holidays for us was all about trying our best to reach there by April 14 which was Appachan’s birthdays. Going to Trichur was the best incentive to study hard for the exams and just get over with it. Once we reach Trichur railway station, one of Mum’s four brothers, sometimes joined by one of her 4 cousin brothers would be there to receive us. The usual blahs exchanged btw uncles and Chech & Me- ‘ooh englishkaarigal vannu’, ‘paandiigal koolichattu indalvilla’. But what I always looked forward to- was driving into the porch of Velliveed to find Appachan on his rocking chair (a gift which is still intact) and Ammachi standing by his side. The innumerable times I have gone there, the scene was the same. And that to me is the best reception one can get, because I believe that is a sign which shows that someone is waiting for u, rather than the normal knocking at a closed door.
Every room in Veliveed had a name- Office room (the drawing room which was over-maintained, if I cud say and where kids’ entry was banned), Appachan’s room, Appachan’s bathroom (which was not a pvt bathroom as the name might suggests), Appachan’s shaving room (which was actually a bedroom, but Appachan kept his ‘cosmetics’), kunjuroom(which served the purpose of an attic and was my fav room), veliyaroom (the master bedroom which every uncle used when he got married till the next uncle got married). The cupboards in Veeliveed had secrets of my Mum and uncles and aunts. Baby boots knit for my mother, Uncle R’s flowery shirts and bell bottom pants (he considered himself a hippie back in the 70s), Uncles S’s school uniform (which Ammachi was insistent that cousin J wear it when he joined the same school after 15 years), innumerable lemonade sets given as wedding gifts given to aunts and uncles, etc.
Veliveed also had some other characters whom I identify with that house- Anankuttycheduthi- a caretaker and the governess to all the 7 children and their children, Vaasettan (short for Vaasu chettan), Appachan’s trusted chauffer, Achamacheduthi- who came to do the laundry and Kurumba, who came home for lunch everyday as she had no family. Some interesting neighbors too- Major Uncle, Lucy Aunty (who has green fingers and could even revive a dead plant), Saramaunty and her son Hawkins Chettan! (yes that was his official name and I used to tease him by the popular brand)
With Appachans heart attack, the office was shifted to Veeliveed- a makeshift arrangement on the terrace. Once the business grew, the terrace was converted into the office. Slowly the uncles started moving out into their own little homes. After Appachans death, Ammachi moved in with my aunt to the old Kunjuveed. And we say the ‘tharavadu moves with Ammachi’ (like the aircraft US Prez Flies becomes Air Force One-remember the last dialogue in the movie Air Force One) So Kunjuveed is the ancestral home now.
The bigger business needed a bigger office and once temporary make shift office in the terrace took over the entire house. Veliveed is now, if I can call the ‘corporate office’ of my uncles’ business. Although I was personally not very happy about, I also do not look at my uncles with malice for taking this decision. Afterall I have no claim or entitlement to that property (showing off little legal knowledge..ha!)- but only memories.
The last time I visited Trichur, about 2 ½ years ago, I requested my uncle to take me to Velliveed (before it was converted to the office). Along with me was Ammachi, Mum, Aunt and her kids. Most of the things in the house were still intact. I picked up an old wall hanging- Ammachi said J uncle got it from Japan on his visit for a tournament. I picked up a lock- Ammachi said it was the basic form a number lock made about 30 years back. She then told me everything in this house has a story to tell and I could sense her sorrow, but being the practical woman she is, she doesn’t block business decisions. As a token of remembrance, I took my mother’s gold medal which decorated the ‘Office room showcase’ and a face of Christ, made out of welded metal.
I have not been to Kerala after that visit, but when I see the Christ hung on the wall of my present house (i.e when I am not thinking about sickness, exam results, job security etc) I am reminded of the times spent at Veeliveed.
Sometimes I wonder- Mum showed us her childhood, her life through our summer vacations in Veeliveed. But what will Chech show Iz?- Apartments in metro cities???