Washed Out

A ray of golden sunshine hits the corner of my eye as I slowly wake up from my afternoon nap. It takes me back in time to the summers I spent in Kottayam; when the skies turned golden orange a little past 5 p.m., it was time to go round up the hens and roosters, and lead them back to their coop. My grandmother (who I call Amma), and I used to walk through the luscious green acres of farmland, with bird feed in our palms, in the hope to bribe the birds back to their coop before we run out of daylight. Soon enough, I gained a fair understanding of the farm and knew the birds’ favourite spots to laze when the sun was strong, so gathering them up slowly became an effortless task.

Every afternoon at about 12 p.m., we would hear the hens clucking, an indication that they had laid their eggs. Amma gave me the task to go around collecting the eggs. Often I’d run into Appachan (my grandfather), when the hens had found a cosy spot on the roof of the goat shed to lay their eggs. It was my duty to inform Appachan that it was time for lunch. After collecting all their small, brown eggs in a wooden basket, I would walk home while counting how many eggs I had gathered for the day.

The walk home for lunch was always quite interesting. Wooden basket in hand, I’d walk at a slow pace so as not to crack any of the eggs. Although the sun was blazing, the path home was covered in a green canopy of rubber trees. Each tree had been tapped and an empty coconut shell stood attached to the bottom of the tree to collect the rubber sap. Along the dark brown bark of these trees grew pepper creepers.

During the summer months, the peppers turn bright red, signalling that they’re fully mature and ready to be harvested. At intervals between the rubber trees grew cashew trees. The cashew trees were adorned with pretty, pink flowers and cashew apples ready to be plucked. Occasionally, the cashew apples fell from the high branches, plummeting towards the ground. Passers-by always had to be on the lookout so as not to be injured.

Closer to our home stood bushes of gorgeous flowering plants. These were just for decoration, and they didn’t yield any product that could be monetised. Anthuriums, Birds of Paradise, Blood Lilies and Bougainvilleas surrounded the sit-out. Hues of crimson, fuschia, blue and orange illuminated as the sun shone through the flowers.

As I snap back into reality, I realise that it’s 4:23 p.m. and I’m late for my tuition class.

I often reminisce my summers in Kerala. Amma and Appachan are old now and the farm is now looked after by an external contractor. The lush green farms now stand dull. Perhaps it’s the lack of a personal touch or maybe it’s the excessive use of fertilizer. Regardless, the magnificent multitude of colours is now washed out.

Author: Nitya Binu

Editor: Alekhya Gahilot

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