My maternal grandfather was the eldest of 3 brothers and 2 sisters. My grandfather expired when I was in the 7th standard. My grand father's youngest brother expired last weekend. He was hospitalized for a month and he finally bid adieu to this world. 2 years back around this time his wife was hospitalized and died a natural death. They both meant a lot to me and I will miss them both.
By virtue of being the youngest, he inherited my grandfather's ancestral house. My grand father and the other brother built their houses on either sides of the ancestral house. We used to call the ancestral house as "Veedu" (Home) and the other 2 houses are referred to by the directions relative to "Veedu" so that made one house the "House in the west" and the other "House in the east". And this couple were called as Veetile Appacha(Appacha from Home) and Veetile Ammachy(Ammachy from Home). My memories of this couple are made up of jovial moods, fun, stories of my mom, playing in the white sand that formed their front yard, the grandpa chair right near the door where either of them would generally be found, huge wooden furnitures, big storerooms, the paper/straw fan, huge vessels, shells, prawns, dried fish, salt rock water, pink chambakyas (does anyone know what it is called in english?), the green paddy fields, the guava tree, the cowshed, the varied sizes of straw tokris, watching them working in the paddy fields, the tapoica, the hens and chickens, running around the hen to cook it for lunch (sounds gross..sorry..we were a set of heartless :) ), the big tamarind tree near the fields where we used to sit & watch them work along with the workers, the soft mud, mushrooms and so many things. I could probably just list a million things that remind me of the warmth I felt around them.
My mom's house is in a village in Kerala called karuvatta. It is a very beautiful place with paddy fields that adjourn every land. A lot of "kacha rasta" and the people around are related to you in one way or other, the least is they know atleast 3 generations of your family. Every time we got down at the main road from a bus, we used to make a dash to "Veedu". To reach "veedu" we actually had to cross the gate of my grandfather's other brother. we would generally just try to run across the gate as fast and quietly as we could. By the time mom and dad start walking from the road to the house they will definitely meet 10 people and it would be an hour before they reach "veedu". By then we would have made ourselves comfortable at "Veedu". My grandmother would generally see us arrive at "veedu" through the kitchen window and come "Home" to get us. Every single day after we are done with our breakfast we generally just run through the narrow by-lanes created by the ponds and the fields to reach "Veedu". They had 2 daughters and a son and the youngest daughter was just 2 years elder to me. That probably was an another reason why I stuck around there. Its said that my grandfather loved her the most because she was the youngest among all the kids in the family and her father loved me the most because I was the first grandchild in the family. Complicated uh.. I know.
Appacha lived on meagre means. They did not have a lavish breakfast or lunch or dinner but all of us kids preferred eating there. We would have "Kanji", rock salt water, fish and some vegetable 'thoran' inspite of the chicken and yummy duck curries my granny made. We just loved the simple food. Inspite of the tight string budget they had, they would indulge us kids with something special every time we were there. The ancestral dinning table was a long wooden table with 6 legs. we would all crowd it enjoy our meals with stories of people we know and we don't know. Most of the times they were pulling our legs for the rotten malayalam we were speaking. I improved on my Malayalam there amidst laughters & sadness, both that made me cry. Rain, water, banana are some of the tougue twister words in malayalam and they have made so much fun of me, almost ROTFL asking an innocent 6yr old to re-iterate the same words. They were such a lovable family, nothing ever hurt.
I actually have no idea how to end this post because how much ever I talk of them its not enough. They led a very hard life towards their last years. The son, my uncle wasn't doing very well financially but he took really took good care of both of them. The last time when I met Appacha, he complained he wasn't doing very well. He hugged me and we cried. Since I was the first grand child in the family they have always made me feel very special about it every time. The ancestral property was sold off a couple of years back. So while its still right in front of my grandfather's house its still no more our "Home" and its definitely not our home without Appacha and Ammachy. I pray their souls rest in peace.