Summer Vacations….. the whole of April and May every year..was the period most sought after, me and brother looking forward to it all through the academic year. We went through the annual exams in March taking comfort that it’s the final trial and the vacations are just round the corner..after all..”If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”..the only difference being it was the hot summer ahead.
There would be a week's delay in our journey to trivandrum bcoz achan had to settle things at office.Those days were spent eating mangoes ..seated on folding chairs in the back courtyard of the quarters..lots of mango trees around..gentle sea breeze now and then ..immersed in lots of tinkles,amar chitrakathas, famous fives, secret sevens and later nancy drews and hardy boys..looking up only to throw away mango seeds ..amma would come and join us for a break from household chores….i remember her remarking..that we were in Santhiniketan of Tagore with the ‘Sarayu’ flowing past..only it was the ‘Oda’which took the waste water from the kitchen :)
We make our historic journeys in the much loved ‘Malabar Express’ which my brother later renamed to ‘Malabar Kaalavandi’ as he felt it took it forever to reach trivandrum. The train pulling up at Trivandrum station and achan hurrying to find enough porters to carry our little luggage that included four pillows for each of us :).There would be either one of my two uncles waiting with a car to take us home..
At the end of an hour’s journey we land at home..ammomma comes to greet us crying and smiling altogether..and her favourite remark after eyeing me and bro critically..’randu peerum aake ksheenichalloo?’ and then she turns an accusing glance at amma as if she had been starving us :)..there was seldom much truth about that..it was always her love ..and we were her favourite grandparents always..much to the envy of our cousins ..my brother has an excellent sense of smell..he announces that he can smell chicken curry and also paayasam and many more things..amma forces him into the bathroom which he reluctantly obeys..i go wandering about..examining how much has changed since last when I had been there..little plants were grown up trees..new shops by the road side….in the background I can hear ammomma recounting how many people were recently dead , who all married, details about our rubber plantations and its tapping,and how she was getting old and sick and couldn’t manage everything alone..
My cousin ‘Kunji’ would be waiting patiently for our arrival..she was an only child..so it meant a lot to her when we made it home. She is my brother’s age..four years younger to me and six months younger to my brother...a real kaanthaari and prankster then :).
‘Kunjiyum Inganum’ that’s how they were referred to..’Ingan’ was my bro’s nickname and he was a real paavam..and Kunji would order him what to do ,she was always commanding taken after her father a bit :).. She inspired him to climb up the numerous window bars upto the ceiling….she virtually created a havoc all the time she was there..her home was next door..but the moment she woke up she would coerce uncle to take her to ours..i can still see her coming holding on to her dad’s arm and holding a toothbrush in the other and ..brushing ,bathing ,eating and sleeping were all with us..in between when they quarreled..my brother would shout at her ‘neeyenthina ente veetill nikkunnathu?..nee poo..enikku ninne ishtamilla’..and suddenely she stops fighting and begs him not to tell uncle about whatever mischief she had done, he would take her home..and she didn’t want to be home at all…
Dramas were enacted…story, screenplay and casting all were done by me :) ..we performed behind close doors..once we were in the middle of our favourite one .. me as a rigid and stubborn hostel warden and the other two as hostelites who played tricks on the warden..the light went off and my brother took up the opportunity to creep up behind ‘kunji’ and scream in her ear.And she shrieked so loudly that not only everyone from our home but also the neighbours came rushing……..
Inpsired by the' secret seven' and 'famous five'….we conducted tea parties……me and brother pestered amma into buying packets and packets of bread,butter,jam ..we couldn’t really have gingerbeer and such stuff..so we settled with whatever was available.And the time for the party was set..’Kunji’ had agreed to bring her toy tea set..amma wouldn’t give us the real one..saying we would break it….she was really annoying at times…As the auspicious moment arrived..it started to rain heavily ..oh..now what if kunji doesn’t come??...our party would be ruined without her and her tea pot!!..Amma remarks pessimistically that she wont come..and warns that if we don’t eat up all the things we have forced her into buying, she will teach us a lesson….We get more and more worried …but then somebody walking up to our house with an umbrella in hand in the pouring rain...as the person came nearer..we recognize her..its ‘Bindu’ mami….and beside her a little creature with her hands tightly around her tea set:)....dear darling kunjii..no matter how much we ill treated her at times..and how much we quarrelled..she would never go back on her promise..or let us down..she was plentifully naughty, true, but she adored us very much…And we conducted our party behind closed doors..and discussed important things like going exploring around the abandoned house nearby..what if there were hidden treasures which people had forgotten to come back for(as it happened in stories :)) or atleast there would be maps saying go 10 feet north..then 5 feet south.. you reach a well ..go down ..and there will be a box full of gold coins and ingots!!..:)….We did go ..but kunji was too frightened that snakes would spring up at her from the overgrown bushes and she started crying….and sadly we had to abandon our quest there..