I’d worked in this district sometime back. But I’d never tasted authentic Palakkadan dishes like Muttappuli until I digged into the sumptuous meals at Sivasundaram’s home nearby.
Back at the mud house we hit our bed to slough off the weariness from the long drive. The bedroom is big, but what takes the prize is the size of the bathroom. It would be love at first sight if you’ve already fed up with clammy toilets in hotel rooms.
Each part of the home, including the kitchen conspires to leave you blissfully stranded in the past. You feel you live in history, your childhood. The traditional wooden bed hanging from the roof, the tea which comes in clay cups, and the tiny windows in bedrooms are all thrusting you back with their feeble fingers.
I don’t know how far these ochre walls in such rough moods could bounce off the golden sheen that the bulbs and a ranthal would throw her way tonight.
Rain came all of a sudden in the evening. Along with it Appu, our helper, a typical character of a Palakkadan village, part the fields, part the society. Like the faint breeze that blew all evening, he came and went silently just to see whether we were comfortable.
There he was picking tomatoes at the vegetable garden outside the mud house. If you insist he would let you pick your choice morsels from the garden, to get them cooked into a yummy Palakkadan dish for the night.
The crude fence which halfheartedly checks the foray of rice fields at the front yard is embellished by creepers with little red flowers. “Acha, I feel scared,” my daughter Ammu complained about the silence that engulfs the place. “You are not used to places like this. One night will change you dear,” I reassured her.
Night came, dragging the full moon along with it. Ah! The green fields outside were washed in milk. I slipped out of the mud house into the dim lit fields, leaving my wife and daughter chat with Sivan chettan and Lekha chechi, to sponge in the night air and the moonlight.
After a splendid supper of puttu and fiery hot chicken curry we all sat down to share our experiences. Sivasundaram is so particular about even the little things in this farm house. “I was about to put gravel all around this house to check the rain water. But then one of my customers told me it would destroy those little abodes(small depressions you see on the sand) of antlions (kuzhiyana). He told me to my surprise that it is these antlions which later turn into beautiful damselflies(a sort of little dragonflies) which we usually see flitting about in gardens (New piece of information for me too!)”
Only I sit here alone, right on the parapet not yet content with the rains drumming on the roof, and the frog-croaks erupting from a night now steeped in a moonless dark. I shudder when a cold wind blows. Time to sleep.
Ah! It still tastes the same, sweet toddy, but sadly I cannot take you more, as I have a long way to drive, back to my home at Thiruvananthapuram.
Yes, we’ll come back to this sweet home again.
To meet our new family, Sivan chettan, Lekha chechi, Kunjulekshmi, their daughter and Sivan chettan’s parents – Soumini Amma, who is a wonderful cook (You would know more about that during your stay) and Balakrishnan sir.
All day I will sit by the pond in their house watching those pearly white swans glide meditatively over the cool water.
Let old age come. Dear, it is true that some dreams can come alive, just like the way antlions turn into damselflies by the night.
* Antlions do not turn exactly into damselflies. But they are all a family.
*A room in Sree Chithrakoodam can be yours for 3000/- for a day. With 5000/- the whole house is yours. Excellent home made Palakkadan food comes free with the package.
NB: Sivasundaram’s mobile number is 9947097437.