Away from home, you get more nostalgic than ever. I think this piece would be a standing testimony to that.
All roads lead to Mutharasanallur. This humble village, not far from the popular Rockfort Town Trichy has been our escapade into sublime reality, and what we have called home for over three generations. My parents and I would visit my father’s ancestral home any chance we got, and our arrival always stirred a sense of royalty in us. The whole family would wait with bated breath for the familiar sound of the trio, the “town people” as the other villagers would call us. It felt important and even as a little child, I felt like a celebrity. “Sury chitappa’s daughter,” was how I was introduced to the old and happening “simpletons” by my elder cousins, and I somehow revelled in that acquaintance. It was going to be a busy couple of days for them as they pampered their youngest uncle’s family.
We were offered the best of facilities, and the highest of comforts in our two storeyed ancestral house. Most of all, we were fed like royalty, one of the biggest honours that can be bestowed upon one in an Indian household. My grandmother was the poster mother in law when it came to looking after my mother, and her favourite way of doting on us, was through food. We had our own healthy cows that I, the “town kid” was petrified of, but Lakshmi and Rani unyieldingly gave us rich produce, what we today call “organic”.
The little bath, that was built for the calves to drink water from became my swimming pool, as I spent hours in it, with the open pipe beside me gurgling water into the thotti. The two-hour bath would work my appetite as my paternal grandmother beckoned us to eat. It was normal to see a feast whenever we visited, complete with sambar, rasam, poriyal, rice, appalam, and home made pickles. Thangam Patti, my paternal grandmother always insisted on us eating on the banana leaf, the elai virundhu. The order of serving the delectable dishes, the patience involved in waiting for all the food to be served and the surprise of “what’s next” only added to the mystery of eating out of the vaazha elai. Most of the food that we consumed was indigenously prepared- the ghee, buttermilk and other milk products from our cows; the mango and lemon pickles from our vast backyard garden, that stretched as far as the eye could see. An afternoon siesta later, there was always yummy crunchy murukku, seedai and thenkozhal that my aunt had painstakingly made, to beat the afternoon blues and eternal heat. It was always followed up with strong filter coffee for the adults, and paneer soda for the little ones like me.
Getting back to our home in the city after a weekend of what could be only described as pure bliss was tough, but with the memory petrichor of a simple life in the village worth living, and the big boxes of crispy crunchies that Thangam patti insisted we take, Mutharasanallur doesn’t seem too far away. As an afterthought, getting this piece up here, neither does home.