Visiting my Dad’s hometown Pattambi, where I spend most of my childhood days is always a fun walk down memory lane , but when I do it with my childhood cousins , it’s even more fun!
Almost every year, four of us, Anish, Shihab, Basheer and I gather at our ancestral home town for a sleep over, commemorating our childhood times we spend there. We gather at our Aunt Nasi’s home where the old ancestral home once stood. This usually takes place when Shihab and Anish,who are working abroad come down for their annual vacation.
Once you get a Job, have a family of your own, your time and space mostly revolves them. We had been trying to arrange the annual get together for a few days now, accommodating everyone’s available dates was difficult, but eventually we were able pick a day.
Things have changed :
I arrived at the place a bit early to see my younger cousin Anzar, who was having his house renovated at the time. Afternoon, we took a ride to pick his son from school. Having been away from this place for so long, I had not realized the changes that had come over the years, it was completely a different place. This was the place where we had grown up playing all sorts of make believe games.
Anzar and Mo-mo
This would be the only house in these parts that had not changed .Anzar and I mentioned that if there were any old pics, we could have made a comparison study. However, in the day when digital photography did not exist, that seemed unlikely.
Cousins Gather :
Soon we were joined by Anish and Shihab , Basheer came in about half an hour later , We sat at another aunt Sura’s living room , talking and joking about the childhood days remembering all the funny incidents we had done in the past .
Another part of the get together was a Movie plan, we had always done that, and this time , was no exception. While we discussed on which movie to go for, Aunty Sura got us some Soaked Rice Flakes with shredded coconut along with Tea.
The Short Road Trip :
With the movie plan decided Basheer suggested we take a short road trip to this Dam nearby and hang out there till dusk, take dinner from a hotel and go fort the late show After, which we all were to crash at Aunt Nasi’s .Even though she was not home , Anzar handed keys to us.
Usually we would all stay up late night chatting but this time Shihab wanted to get back to his family, we had fun pulling his leg a bit , but he mentioned later that no one was at home, though we had our suspicions 🙂 but I supposed he wanted to be back with his family – I can understand that.
This time Anzar too joined us for the road trip too. That was nice , I usually felt he’d get left behind , I mean he was our younger cousin , and we big boys were a gang back in the days , So it was good that he would join us this time .
On to Velliyamkallu :
I had not been to these parts, at least not that I could remember, the road lay adjacent to the River and winded past water bodies that connected to the river.
On the way cousin mentioned about a tragic accident of a Man who had drowned in the River, He came from another town to fish the previous day. Apparently, the search was still on, as rescuers on motor boats scouted the large river.
Even the local folks had joined in the search, looking out to the river shore, to see if the body had turned up by the shore.
The dark and grey cloudy sky, the police vehicles, the ambulances, and the rain-wet landscapes added to the melancholy aura that lay heavy over this area.
After a few twists, turns up hills and down hills, the road finally lead us to the Velliyamkallu Dam, in fact we drove over the Dam to park the vehicle. We walked past many roadside food stands and carts, even some pond fish sellers!
The Rescue Operation:
The Dam was crowded more than usual with local folks and tourists alike. Everyone was there to know the outcome of the search for the missing body. We saw one of the rescue boats tugging along slowly. They were poking around the water with long poles.
Before they could bring the boat around for another sweep, the engine-stopped .The Dam had two outlets that were open. On one side of the Dam was calm high water and on the other side the water ran as fierce, rough rapids, shooting out from the open shutters
The boat started its slow drift towards the open shutters. The crew tried to revive the engine, without any success; the boat was now being drawn into the open mouth of the shutters at an increasing pace.
The helpless six souls held on to their dear life as the boat passed under bridge, through the open shutters. People watching from above the bridge ran across to the other side, in fearful excitement, assuming the worst.
Luckily, the boat had stayed afloat and did not capsize. Just when everyone took a sigh of relief, we noticed only three members of the rescue crew on the boat. Things started to look grim .
Then we saw a head emerge from the rapid, bobbing up and down, it was one of the boatmen. With a life buoy, the crew members on the board reeled him in. However, there were still two missing.
The crew signal “two” to the people on the bridge
Apparently, two persons had jumped off the boat and were battling with the strong currents under the Dam. With the help of onlookers, they roped down a man to help the struggling men below. They pulled the rescue members up one man at a time .The men sat by the Dam’s pillars to recover from exhaustion
Prayer and Dinner :
After the imminent danger was over, we strolled to the park like area on the other side. Apart from the grey cloudy sky, darkness was setting in. I managed a group shot of us all, pumped up the ISO, and later enhanced it in Post.
It was time for the evening prayers, and there was a Mosque within walking distance. Our younger cousin Anzar has a condition, which made it difficult for him to walk or sit for a lengthier time. While we walked to the Mosque for prayers, Anzar waited on the way. Everyone has their own crosses to bear and test to take in their own journey of life.
After prayers, we all walked back to the car. The bridge over the Dam still had people out with floodlights, looking for the body of missing man that had gone missing the previous day.
Back in the days when we all met up on Fridays for our weekend get together; we used to hang out at this particular Restaurant called “KIT KAT,” So to keep up with the tradition we had dinner there.
We were hungry and I think we all forgot to click snaps there, There restaurant had, a few changes made over the years, yet the ambiance was still the same. It does not take much to trigger old memories Over dinner, we all took a walk down memory lane; the old video rental shop “Madhavi,” where we used to rent out VHS cassettes on Fridays. Anand Bakery by the bridge, were we would go for lime juice. Another hotel which served hot Channa Batoora’s, we went all over the place with our memories.
Dinner went by remembering the places and swapping stories from our childhood to our present time. The movie was booked for the late night show. Anzar had to take a rain check for the movie, as his condition was giving him some trouble. I really would have liked him to join us but at the movies, he would have to sit for an extended period of time, which would aggravate things for him.
The Movie :
After dropping Anzar back at his place, we went to the movies. When Anish mentioned that the structure that stood now was the old “Shanoj cinemas,” I could not believe that it had changed so much. This particular movie theater, back in the day was at the cheaper end for entertainment, with thatched roof and hard seats! Now it was a multiplex!
The movie was a mediocre slapstick comedy film. We were there, just for the laughs, to spend time together was all we expected from the movie.
Returning from the movie late, we let ourselves in to with the Keys to Nasi Aunty’s house .Shihab wanted to leave. Earlier we had secretly removed his bike keys, from where he had left it. We had some fun with him searching for the keys, but later we gave in to his desperate expression.
He was off to be with his family and kids. Basheer took to the bed earlier than customary as he had come down with severe cold. Anish, and I, we talked a bit late in to the night before hitting the bed.
We had our fun, memories revisited, and the movie. We missed Nasi Aunty, who was also a part of this annual get together in the past years, after all, it was her house, and she was not there.
Next Morning :
We got ready for our routine life, Basheer had to get to work, Anish to his family. Me! Well, I had to get back running some errands for Dad and a major house maintenance was waiting for me back home. We had hearty breakfast from Sura Aunty’s home. Bid goodbye to each other and went our separate ways.
On the way back to the bus station, I thought about how life has changed for all of us. Each one of us, riding life’s ups and downs and moving forward. There was a time when life did not seem so complicated, it was just the four of us, and the moment. Back in the day, looking forward to Friday night’s get together, the movie we would rent out or watch at the local cinemas. Each one of us held a space in our close knit gang of four , Over the years we all started to drift , went our separate ways ,found our separate lives , those spaces were taken up by those who later entered our lives , Spouses , Children, Job etc That’s the law of nature and time – for nothing is forever .
A very nice person told me that our lives are like a bus ride, everyone has their own stops to get on and to get off. We might board the bus with people we know. When their stop arrives, it is time to get off and someone else takes up the empty seats left by them.
Life is an ongoing process of building memories, with the passing of each second, is a memory made.
Little do we realize that the annual get together me and my cousins have of commemorating our childhood memories , will one day ,too become a memory!
Wish you Anish , Shihab and Basheer the best -Until the next get together, until the next memory! Be safe and stay happy.