(For all the readers who are not South Indians, here's a quick glossary to help you understand better.
Pavadas- Pleated traditional skirts, similar to lehengas.
Ulsavams- Temple fests
Kayineetam- Money and gifts given to children on festivals.
Kanjivarams- A type of south Indian silk popularly used to make sarees.)
Ah! Those beautiful days of rain! The familiar fragrance of the wet soil, the tall coconut trees dancing as the wind caressed its leaves and oh yes, south Indian monsoons are just incomplete without crispy medu vadas and aromatic filter coffee:)
The excited voices of children filled the little village with utmost joy. Their mothers who were still at the temple hurried back at the thought of their children getting wet and falling sick. (Aha! Those lovable mothers.)
However protective our mothers might be, Ammuma from down the street always encouraged us to enjoy the rain until the water reached our ankles and soaked us in mud!
Hari and Arjun- The older boys who used to display great courage by fearlessly jumping into the temple pond. The girls who adorned silk pavadas and gold earrings happily walked towards the temple as their silver paadasarams and glass bangles filled the atmosphere with a lovely rhythm.
I remember how Amma would hold out my little hands for taking prasaadam from Swami. I remember how I used to cling onto Accha's arms in temples and how he would hoist me on his shoulders and point out the exemplary wonders of the smallest things we would see.
Those magnificent 'ulsavams', the decorated elephants, the rhythm of the drums, the chanting and prayers, the temple rush, the enchanting fragrance of payasam, the camphor and incense, the ecstasy you experienced when you were blessed with just a glimpse of the adorned deity, the music and dance, the shops that sold kanjivarams and silver.
Sounds breathtaking, doesn't it?
Those festivals of Onam and Vishu where the children would excitedly run around. It's now that I understand all the trouble Amma must have gone through to get kunji and me ready in the prettiest of pavadas. I remember the many people we used to visit on such days, troubling the elders for 'kayineetam' and playing till the ‘sun sleeps’, just as we would say when we were little children.
What you often saw was young mothers cradling their babies in the comfort of old cotton sarees as you would yearn for Ammuma's heirloom silk sarees and her intricate jewellery, and you knew the joy of eating lime pickle and curd rice- safely packed in a fresh plantain leaf.
Childhood was when the clinking of Amma’s gold bangles and the ruffle of her sarees was more than enough to wake you up on those tiresome school mornings.
Those warm summer afternoons when you lay on your swing- lost among your thoughts, those fascinating winters when you trekked every hill, those fervent monsoons where the fragrance of the red earth pleaded you to enjoy its presence.
Sometimes, childhood appears to be so much of a dream, doesn't it?
Those fond memories, those countless moments of happiness, kindred love and warmth...
All to paint - the beautiful childhood dream.
Author: Amrita Pillai
Editor: Jia Bakshi