My walk through the farm and forest was knowledgeable. After return, I chatted with yajamana who explained to me how the areca nuts are processed. We climbed up the roof where beetles are dried and then they are boiled. The colored water that remains is used as a natural colour in handlooms.
In my conversation with Yajamana I found out that they initially were from a place called Sigandoor. A dam project drew them away from their land. Sigandoor is now an island submerged in the dam backwaters. He explained how difficult it was for him, then a twelve year old to witness such a transition. They had to move to a new land, make new relationships and gain trusts of the new neighbors. The initial years of setting up the farm were very difficult, he said. When he noticed my interest in visiting the place, he came forward to show me the place that afternoon.
The youngest member of the house, 5 year old Arvaind is fun. He lit up the environment with his funny talks. He warned us not to eat the mangoe seeds otherwise it would grow as trees inside us and then a doctor would have to operate. He had an alternate idea to remove it by tying clothe soaked in paste of turmeric and kumkum. :-)
A special meal was served that day, few guests came. Among them was an old man, I would call him Ajja. Ajja stared at me, but he did not speak. Initially I thought he was rude, he had a tough face that never smiled. I felt him observe my friendly conversation with Yajamana, but he did not speak a word. On the other hand, yajamana was very attached to me already and would keep me involved in every conversation.
After food, we drove to Sigandoor. Aravind and Yajamna accompanied. On the way we stopped at “Charaka” . Here, only natural colours from different seeds and leaves are used for cotton clothings. The management explained to us the entire process in a very nice manner. A worker immediately identified my kurta as one produced there.
The drive to Holebagilu is beautiful. From here we had to take a launch (Barge) to cross the backwaters. The view was mesmerizing and in me filled a sadness of this evening which would turn into a day in Bangalore soon. I became silent and my emotions of happiness and sadness mixed with one another to form an undistinguishable expression.
There was some issue with the launch, so the maintenance people were on work. The launch was delayed hence we could not spend time in sigandoor. We just crossed the backwaters and then returned immediately as the launch made its last trip back.
The villagers here were given a choice between a launch and a bridge, the villagers choose the launch and now are in great trouble due to that. If one needs to cross over, they have to wait for specific timings of the launch.
Yajamana pointed to me, the place where his house once had been. He was very keen on showing me around his birth place. He was also fascinated to know from me that his hometown had been featured on the internet. The scenic beauty of the place can be best expressed through these pictures.
We returned back home and had dinner. It was then that Ajja, spoke to me. He started off asking me about Bangalore. Then after dinner, I had only 15 minutes to get ready, but the 5 minutes that he spoke was more than a day’s conversation. All of a sudden, Ajja said – “I have lived 30 years of my life in Chennai. I have all my friends there. I visit them even now. I may have moved here, but I still contact them, I would be less human if I ignore relationships. Yes, eventually they all will learn to live without us, but still one can never ignore the moments.” I silently nodded unable to make out the intention. Then he asked me to visit Tamilnadu and temples there. He suggested me some places in that brief time.
I thanked the women for their amazing hospitality which made me feel so much at home. I thanked the brothers. Yajamana asked me to call me after I reached Bangalore and he gave me his phone number. He asked me to keep in touch. I could see his eyes turn moist. The entire family came out and bade farewell.
With a heavy heart I drove back. Thanked Ravi and his wife too on the way and promised to return again to spend more time at the school, which I could not do this time. In a day, I felt like a part of this family, their happiness, their rituals, their problems and it was all possible due to their hospitality, their niceness.
On my way back to Bangalore, I was submerged in thoughts and emotions. A day had changed my life, in looking at relationships.
I called Yajamana from Bangalore and he said thus – “Ajey, I have no children, and I have liked the way you behave and speak. This house needs youngsters like you to keep visiting. Never forget to call us and drop by.”
In the next few hours in my thoughts, Ajja’s words slowly began to dissolve and break into more meaning full understandings.