Janaky Sadan : The Story
A few days before back, as I went to Thalassery for the renovation of my home, Sai gave me an exercise to sit in each of the spaces and analyse them. So here is the outcome of that excerise -
"Sometimes, when I have to sit by myself, I climb up the staircase and sit on the steps watching the green. During the rains, a small stream develops in the land that I see in front of me. Hopefully nobody ever buys the plot. The green is beautiful, the stream is beautiful and when it rains, everything is damn beautiful. It's my favorite place to work. I have designed a lot of spaces sitting here. I read books here, I get coffee and watch the rain here, I have cried here. It's extremely peaceful. As I am sitting here, I can hear the rustle of the leaves, I can hear the crows and other birds. And someone is playing the guitar from a distance. My dad says that from this spot, you could see Andaloor Kavu, the temple this village is named after. But now you don't anymore. Houses and coconut trees have filled the rice fields that once used to be there - blocking the view to the temple.
It's just not this spot. The whole of upstairs was for relaxing purpose I think. Achachan used to come upstairs and lie down for a while in one of the bedrooms we call his bedroom now. That sort of worked like a library. All the books were here. They are all.gone now. It was here that Achachan and me used to lie down and he would tell his army stories. Otherwise the upstairs was never used.
I guess the house is used to not having spaces used for it's own purpose. The dining was sort of the study. The stair balcony space was my working space. One plug point there and I would be there forever. The most drastic usage fluctuation was the storeroom. In the store, along with the utensils and random storage, was achamma's Pooja. A table and a shelf in the corner of the store room. Early morning, Achachan would pick flowers from achamma's beautiful garden and keep it in front of the idols. If I was around, i would do it too. And she would come, sing her bhajans, chant her mantras and place the flowers in front of the idols. There was a specific one for each idol. The space still has the same vibe. Amma says it's because the positive energy is still prevalant there. Amma can't use the same space though. She feels it's a little too claustrophobic. So she's bought a Pooja and placed it in the living. You would think it's weird when you are entering. But it works very well for her. Amma meditates, does her yoga and lights a lamp.
Amma and achamma are very different people in the way they use the house. Achamma had a ritual sort of a schedule for her daily schedule. She needed her things kept in the right places, she would save all of her things including plastic bags etc., There are utensils from 50 years back still in the house looking brand new. Amma, doesn't have such a devotion to her kitchen. But she would prefer this kitchen to the one she currently uses. She likes the traditional method of working - grinding spices for the powder than buying them, taking water from the well and boiling it in the choola in the bathroom, grinding using the ammi kallu than the mixer. It's probably because she doesn't get a chance to do this in Kuwait. But she loves it here. So whether achamma used the kitchen or Amma does, you see the back entrance to the kitchen filled with spices being dried, with the ammi kallu placed there, and many other activities along with the drying clothes. That's one of the places where the women hangout. The neighbors would come and talk to us once in while.
The traditional way of doing things is probably what attracts me to the house. There is a proper bathroom with a shower and everything that is connected to the living and a bedroom. But I rarely use it. The bathroom that I like to use is the back one, the one which you have to go through the kitchen to use. It doesn't have a shower, you have to take water from the well, pour it into the vessel which has fire burning under it to heat it up. All the waste paper of the house goes here.
It's probably one of the rare houses where the utility is larger than the kitchen. There is a large laundry, there is large ironing space, space for cutting fish, space for washing the fish leftovers space for the over and microwave, space for hanging clothes, it has it all.
So as I leave the house, I see the once beautiful garden now in ruins. The house is a ghost of what it was earlier. I can imagine a lot of things for it though. I can imagine the kolai being as filled as it was earlier . It's not just our house. It's everybody's house. I imagine it on its old glory - the house with visitors all the time. Where the any one could sit anywhere in the house and say "enthalla" ( what's up) to everyone who is entering."