A ‘guest post’ from an amazingly creative person. I’ve always been fascinated by his art work – they range from pencil sketches to 3D ‘Ganeshas’ on handmade gifting envelopes, and so many things in between. Recently, he started making these danglers – wowing me further. And now I realize he can tell a story too! Thank you, Mani Menon!
When I was a kid, I loved visiting Kodungalloor along with my parents and my younger sister. After the frantic pace of life of Bombay and living in a matchbox of a house, Kodungalloor was my idea of heaven! The house my maternal grandfather had built was nothing short of a Buckingham Palace for my sister and me. Trees of guava, mango, gooseberries, bananas, areca nut palms etc. and a bewildering variety of flowering plants too! Ixoras (chethhippoo) and Hibiscus (chembarathi) a riot of colours and each trying to ‘outbloom’ the other! The soil was sandy but fertile to support this miniature Garden of Eden.
As in every household, my grandmother too had people to help her out. My favourite was Parvathi, an elderly woman with a perpetual smile. She would be thrilled to see my sister and me and enquire about Bombay, our studies etc. I would impatiently wait for her to pick up the broom and begin her job. Her job of creating magic in the sand. Flattening the ends of the broom, she would sweep the entire compound. It was the manner in which she swept that fascinated me. Starting from one corner, Parvathi would sweep in semi circles and work her way backward. Each semi circle magically dovetailed into its neighbour. I would watch goggle eyed as the entire compound was covered in these intricate designs.
Even as she went about her task, Parvathi would ask me questions about Bombay. For a person who probably had never stepped out of Kodungalloor, my impressions and comments of the metropolis must surely have astounded her. She would laugh when I told her about some prank I’d played on my friend. Parvathi occasionally advised me to study well and grow up to be a big man. As summers passed, Parvathi was no longer the chirpy woman. Her back was bent and her steps were hesitant. One summer when we went to Kodungalloor, we were told that she had passed away. By then, I had married and worked as a Medical Representative in Trivandrum.
Years after she died, I was leafing through a glossy magazine on Japanese gardens. There on a page was a photograph of a rock garden and gurgling miniature waterfalls. But what caught my attention was the semi circular patterns in the tiny pebbles packed ground! The text explained that it had been painstakingly done using a rake. Parvathi used to create this masterpiece every morning. And I don’t think she found it a painstaking task……………………….