Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Home Sweet Home

[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???


d_grail said...

I know we dun have a "house" where we grew up but I guess we have enough stories in different cities..
You could talk to Izzy about the lane where you and "Happy Singh" frolicked..
The daily buses you took, the fave eating joints..
remember that haircut saloon for men where sometimes you used to get a haircut from when in 9-10th?In Karol Bagh?
And am sure coming from Europe these desi exoticas will interest her like good old naad interests us.

mathew said...

loved reading through this post...you really did have a wonderful childhood...Our ancestral home where I have lot of memories as a kid was sold off a few years back when my uncle had to relocate to Blore...and whenever I go past that house its somewhat sad that you cannot go in there anymore..

It was not as grand as Veliveed but I can recollect countless memories and laughter we had in each room...our generation is blessed in a way isnt!!

Mishmash ! said...

that was a touching post...stirred up lots of memories....this naming of each rooms was quite common i guess....at my maternal side, we also had this office room, nadukkilathe muri, cheriya muri etc....but i have not been there in more than a decade as my uncle gave the house on lease for someone as he is working abroad.....and as mathew wrote, i miss that place whenevr we pass that house and the longing to go inside is very strong:(

Rainman said...

Your post so totally reminds me of our ancestral house in Kerala! Sigh! Very good memories I had there (I won't elaborate in your comments section, of course :-)). We had an "office room" as well.....looks like all Mallu houses have an "office room".....lol. Last time I visited India, I made it a point to make a 1 week trip to Kerala, even though no one lives there anymore, just to relive the old times! Sigh! :D

eljo said...

Hey Min, great minds think alike. I too was thinking of writing a post on Velliveedu. I wanted to document the memories of our holidays so that Iz would know what it was like in our childhood. Even my fav room there was the kunju muri. Loved being there with all the pillows and some old books of uncles. you forgot to mention abt the parambu ;-)

Dhanya said...

Nostalgic post.. I also have lots of memories about my maternal home.. But now that house is demolished :( Will write abt it sometime..

Aiswarya said...

With all the funny bits in it, A tear or two rolled my face after reading this post. It reminded me of our tharavadu, the charectors, the neighbours, the dog everything. I am goin India for a month and a half on the 28th of July, I am planning to visit all the nadan places thati have tip toed in with no footwear!A tear or two will roll down again and thanks for this lovely post!!I am sure Iz will have memories too!! May not be in India, but I guess One cant have everything!

Unknown said...

That was so beautifully written. It was almost like a travelogue and in some ways also reminded me of certain parts of God of Small Things. You paint a beautiful picture and your personal memories make me so nostalgic too!