For holidays I’d travel to grand-ma’s home and that’d be our summer camp. Half of my summer camp would be in Thirthalli (dad’s native) and the other half in Udupi (mom’s native). The travel from Bangalore to our village ‘Patlamane’ was a tiring one with ten hours travel time. Our journey would start with a red coloured KSRTC bus from Bangalore to Shimoga. In the six hours journey I’d ask mom to buy me groundnuts, biscuits and chocolates. After some munch I’d stretch and sleep on mom and sister. Once we got off at Shimoga, we’d stop by at Thrupthi canteen to eat curd rice, one among the best curd rice I’ve had. The journey isn’t over yet, we still have a long way to cover, not distance wise but time wise. We’d have to take a bus from Shimoga to Thirthalli and then from Thirthalli to Ganapathikatte. Sometimes I’d feel travel sick and a few times that I’ve reached intact, I was supposed to run for 2km and send my cousins to mom and sister to help get our suitcases. There are two ways to reach home, one by the main road and another through our betel-nut farm. I’d take the farm road, because it’s fast and also I was scared of a pond on the main road. I’d run to grand-ma after, who would get up from her bed, smile at me and ask ‘ivaga bandhya’ (did you arrive now?). I’d say yes, then wait by her side and she would slowly pick a plastic cover under her pillow which would have my favourite orange candy. By then mom and sister would arrive and everyone gets into a melodious conversation. I’m lost in the talks and also in time now.
I’d slowly walk towards the entrance to see the vast betel-nut trees. I’d then step towards the cowshed. All the cows are munching their evening grass meal and I walk-in to speak with them. The shiny black cow standing next to the entrance is ‘Saraswathi’. Standing next to her is ‘Lakshmi’ and beside is her calf drinking milk. Lakshmi always delivers a male calf, always. The orange cow at the far corner is ‘Parvathi’. She usually uses her horns to shoo away unknowns. This cowshed has sheltered many cows in the 60 odd years, the names have changed but the stories have remained the same.
I walk near the wooden gate, pedestrians can walk by in the small opening and when a motorcycle or a four wheeler comes, someone has to slide the four wooden bars which are resting on a small pillar, to make way. I see thousands of jamun fruit on the pathway, they all are smashed and have oozed out purple liquid. I see my cousin’s jeep up the road and I run towards it. I see an old man by the jeep. He’s squatting and smoking ‘beedi’ (thin cigarette). He is wearing a shirt which I guess would have been white once, now it’s full of mud. He’s got a striped shorts and has put a towel on his shoulder. He’s got a curly hair and has cracked legs. I go near him and he throws his cigarette away. He smiles and I can see his broken tooth. He asks ‘Puttamma! chennagiddira?’ (little girl, are you doing good?). I smile back and show my broken tooth and tell him that I’m doing good.
Neeliah Nayaka, who is an essential part of my school summer holiday memories. So many jeep journeys with cousins and him, his infectious laughter, walking me up the hill to drop me at cousin’s place, his puppy face when doddamma (dad’s elder brother’s wife) would scold him for drinking and coming home, his silence, his tree climbing techniques and the wild fruits he’d bring me.
Joyful days, Joyful memories and Joyful Neeliah 🙂