It was eons ago; my cousin (lets call her Apple for now, for lack of a better letter ) and I were visiting a temple in rural kerala. Like most pilgrimages; [ now that I recall, almost all my trips in kerala were pilgrimage ones.. I digress] this one too was a family and extended family trip crammed in a rented Sumo, listening to yesudas fill the space between car horns and incessant banter in loud pallakad tamiz. Now that we had reached only the fifth or sixth temple for the day, the elders scuttled away to catch the glimpses of ‘deep-aaradhanai’ *, while Apple and I retired. We were seventeen and not in any hurry to love God at the moment. We had Engineering college crowds to look forward to, sharing giggly girly stuff and making fun of everyone we knew, basically being mean teenagers.
After what seemed like a few hours, the junta emerged to reprimand the two of us for being ‘us’ and not spending enough time praying, for we were only one day through the 3 day trip and we were already acting like nonchalant moles. It was the day before diwali and the kerala countryside was in peaceful ignorance. Here is a little known truth – Contrary to the desi declarations to the eye-popped gora “Diwali, the festival of lights is the only festival celebrated all over India”, Diwali is not the festival of mallu-land. If it is popular now, it is simply the influence of bollywood and kollywood dappankoothu and in no way due to the lights-factor or devotion for Ram. It is however, respected in sufficiency by the pallakad iyer community and as a mark of that, my family was making temple visits that year!
Finally we had made it to the modest home of somebody for the night before resuming the road trip at 5 am the next day. Apple and I didn’t bother to understand the distant relation and were quick to find the minutest things to laugh our hearts off in giggles of course. And suddenly like an unexpected bomb scare, we were part of an unending tirade; So here was the daughter of that somebody, we were spending the night at, who was the same age as us, but.. ( Now that a big but..) who was coy, dressed in dhawani, wearing pottu, bangles et all, beautiful and serving us ladoo and murukkus that she made herself; and better still was getting engaged in a year and was a rank holder! Until a few minutes back, enjoying the ladoo and murkku, Apple and I had cracked wicked jokes about the girl marrying someone with the funniest combination of south-indian names and having kids in quick succession and imitating her to distraction.
Probably vileness doesn’t go unnoticed and the elderly began the embarrassing bashing of why Apple and I were.. well.. what we were and why cant we learn a few things from the girl. Stories of their teenage, early marriages, the ‘addakkam and oddukaam’** were also lavishly thrown in and even though we were in salwars, fitting nonetheless, we were made to feel like we were in beachwear and behaving like we would in Florida. And even if there was some chance of us befriending that perfect-girl, it was absolutely bleak now.
That night was a mixture of goody-girl-lectures and a careful fall asleep before we hit the road again feeling. Fresh and famished on the diwali morning, again dressed in frowned upon-salwars with bangles-less hands, Apple and I had decided to act as cool as possible and blissfully overlooked miss-goody-two-shoes. And by the cow shed, the somebody of the house was talking to the eldest among our junta – “ adellam ok maami. City na problem taan. Domesticate pannungo”***… We had a mix of umbrage and laughter, for we had no clue if domesticate was meant for the cows or the beach-girls. Well I may never find that out; so that was that and we were glad to have yesudas fill our eardrums with guruvayoorapan praises for the first time!
Then Engineering happened, Apple and I went our separate ways, shared many common moments of confusions, falling in and out of trouble, experiencing the world on our own, married and probably still discovering things at our ends of the worlds. Amidst this turn of events, even with all the lack of ‘domestication’ per se, I think we did fine, although not perfect.
So, a few months back I found out through word-of-mouth that miss goody shoes wasn’t all that goody afterall. She had eloped two years after her engagement and the rest is well history. That’s when I rung Apple and we had recounted that terribly good diwali eve, laughing till we had tears or like Monica Geller expresses – I laughed till, little pee came out! That’s when apple concluded – “Guess what? I am actually making ladoos for diwali and may be I’ll attempt murrukus for next. OH dear! Now I know what domestication feels like”
A very Happy Hearty Diwali everyone! Try to keep it safe and errmm… domesticated. 🙂
** characteristics of a docile nubile
*** Its ok. its the problem with the city. try to domesticate.