My dad and I paid a visit to my grandmother’s place last Sunday. It had been a long time since I’ve been to my father’s house and I was very eager to meet up with my achamma. The house was at the centre of the plot which had a long drive way. The plot used to be filled with almost a dozen variety of mango trees and cherry plants, guava, chickoo, chaampa trees and plantains, a hundred variety of flowers and fruits which ranged from orchids and anthuriums to konnapoo. The driveway used to be covered with a canopy of lush green foliage. Now the entire haven has gone in oblivion. All that remained were a couple of trees here and there and wild grasses. I quietly looked at the spot where once stood a giant mango tree which also had a swing tied onto it. My achamma used to promise to swing me ten times if I ate one handful of rice. How much I used to love it!
Achamma came out eagerly and hugged me. She looked fit and fine which was quite a relief to me. I walked around the house with her listening to her stories, greviances and other local news.
‘Meow’ - We had an intruder. It was a little cat all white in colour. Achamma introduced me to her. The cat happened to be her only companion in the deserted house. Achamma had preferred to stay back in the house after my grandfather’s death even though her children forced her to accompany them. Appooppan was a well read man and according to me he knew more things than Britannica Encyclopedia. Appooppan and I had the habit of taking strolls through the courtyard where he narrated to me a thousand colourful tales of love, valour and humour.
She was speaking to the white cat as if it was human. It seemed as if the cat could understand and respond to her. I could not help smiling.
My mind was still wandering in the past. I recalled how I used to run around the house with my cousins Unni and Kunju. Every year I waited eagerly for the vacations for our reunion. At times we would also be joined by our other cousins Devi chechi and Laxmi. The memories of our little gang fishing from the canals and robbing ripe mangoes during mango season made me smile. The well wall which once appeared to be too tall for me was now nothing but a small pile of stones. Achamma used to take me in her arms to show me the fishes in the well. Then there was the side step to the kitchen where three of us (Kunju, Unni and I) usually sat and had our lunch at times. Now it appeared to be such a small space that I could not help wondering how was it possible for three of us to fit in there.
Life changes so much, doesn’t it? And so does things. Matters which were once so important become the forgotten ones and events that made you cry make you smile. Wasn’t life much simpler when your most precious possession were a couple of chocolate wrappers, your biggest enemy your siblings, your only hero your father and the biggest scars the ones on your knees?
I miss my yesterdays and so does each one of us. So cherish your ‘todays’ while you still have it because soon, they are going to be a part of your yesterdays. If I ever knew that my heart would ache so much over these little things I would’ve enjoyed them a lot more when they all happened. Maybe I would have never felt jealous of Devi chechi sleeping with Achamma. Oh no! I think given a chance to go back I would feel a thousand times more jealous with her, fight with Kunju a lot more over the little match box sticker, forgive Unni for breaking my little play house and hug Laxmi with more warmth. But how in the world was I supposed to know that these memories would once give me more warmth than my Kashmiri shawl?
It was getting late. I hugged and kissed achamma. I walked back to our car. She was smiling and I could judge from her face how happy she felt after our visit. The little white cat was purring at her feet. As the car moved I turned back to get a glimpse of her. She had started her little conversation with the little white fellow.