Friday, August 26, 2005


It was the summer of 1983 and a car screeched to a halt, in front of a well known tharavadu (family house) in south Kerala. Dust sprang up from under its wheels and created mysterious figures in the dry air. A set of small tear-filled-eyes were there inside the car which were about to dribble, and a small mouth which was about to snivel. As expected, a high pitch cry emanated from the car. After sometime, a lady in her early thirties came out with the small girl. The girl was still crying. That was the day on which Thathri-kutty came to the village for the first time. From the city, her family has shifted to a house situated behind the tharavadu.

Her parents didn’t allow Thathri-kutty to play with the children of neighborhood. Before going to work, they left her at the tharavadu, where she played with Ramu, a kid of her age. Ramu-ttan became her childhood friend. Maniyan, Ramu-ttan’s puppy, was the third one in the gang. The mischievous activities they did every day did not have any bounds.

Going to the nearby fields kept barren after the puncha-koythu (harvest), finding out a small colorful insect called pasha (beetle) available aplenty in those fields, incarcerating dragonflies and make them hold small pebbles, making bubbles from the juice of a small shrub growing on the ramparts, buying ice-candies from Ramu-chettan using the paisa collected, playing achan and amma (father and mother), pretending to cook using sand and leaves of different colors, serving it hot using coconut pods as the plate, making and flying kites which failed in its ventures, making small houses using sand, catching fish from the stream that flow adjacent to the field using a thorthu (towel) and what not.

Thathri-kutty's younger sister Karthi-kutty was born when she was four years old. Lots of relatives visited their house on the following days.

On the noolu-kettu day (a ceremony on the 28th day from birth of a child) of Karthi-kutty, a few relatives and family friends came to their house with new clothes for the baby; some of them carried gold rings and some other brought gold chains (sort of a tradition in Kerala). Everyone’s attention was on the baby and no one noticed Thathri-kutty. She sat near one of the corners of the house, separated from others.

Previously her mother used to be with her every time. But now whenever she went to her mother, her mother sent her back saying that the baby would wake up and cry. Her mother also said that Thathri-kutty may hurt the new-born. She felt very sad. She was depressed for a few days until Balan-maman (Balan Uncle) noticed it. Balan-maman consoled her and afterwards she started liking her vava (younger sister).

Later Thathri-kutty realized that this was the case of the elder child in any family. When a new offspring comes to the family the elder one loses his/her attention. It also points out the care that parents need to give to their daughter/son when a new kid is born in the family. Later she decided that she will have only one child. But then she thought for a while. If vava was not there then she would’ve been alone in her life. She was in a dilemma...