‘Ammachi, Mazha varunnu, Mazha varunnu’…. (it is going to rain!!!)
Hearing my screams everyone rushed out. Ammachi went to get the cows.. Kuttan quickly removed the rubber sheets that were hung on the clothesline, and Chakki, lifted the pleats of her saree and tucked them inside the skirt, so as not to get it wet and the saree wouldn’t cling on to her legs as she ran. She chased the hens in to their coop.
Ammachi saw me struggling with Manikutty and took the rope from my hand and suddenly the calf that was immovable all the while I was trying to bring her to the shed started walking like an obedient child behind Ammachi. Inside the shed Ammachi tied Manikutty close to the mother cow, and soon the mother cow started to lick Manikutty. I gently petted Manikutty’s wet snout as the mother and the calf nuzzled together. Ammachi pulled some hay from the haystack and placed in the tray near the mother calf.
The rain then started to fall heavily; Ammachi and I placed our hand on our head and made a dash from the cattle shed to the house. Ammachi went inside her bedroom and brought the towel with her and dried my hair. She then proceeded to dry her own hair. Kutten and Chakki were already inside the kitchen. Chakki used the end of her saree to dry her hair. Kutten just used his fingers and flicked the hair and then shook his head few times.
The rain was now falling heavy and Kutten went outside and scanned the horizon. He told Ammachi,
“ I don’t think the rain will stop today. I think we will go home now.” Ammachi went out to look at the sky and she too agreed with Kutten after seeing the grey clouds, and told the couple to go home. Kutten went out and cut two yam leaves, giving one to his wife. Chakki wrapped the end of her saree around her head and carried the rest with one hand and held the leaf with her other as they walked home.
I liked it when it rained for Ammachi would make delicious tapioca chips whenever it rained. It was a rainy day snack for her: fried tapioca chips eaten with slivers of coconut and jaggery(gula melaka). Ammachi went inside the pathayam(granary) where she stored the dried food items and the grains and brought out the big tin in which she keeps the tapioca she dried the previous summer. She put the big cheenachatti(Chinese wok) on fire and poured coconut oil in to it. She broke a small piece of dried tapioca and dropped in to the hot oil to check if the oil was hot enough to fry the chips. I enjoyed watching the chips swell and float to the surface. Ammachi knew that and she allowed me to drop the chips in to the oil, supervising so the hot oil wouldn’t splash. When the chips were golden brown Ammachi sprinkled salt water on it and used an old wooden scoop and lifted the chips from the oil and placed them in a small brass plate. She used a curved knife and scraped few pieces of coconut and jaggery (gula melaka). I carried the brass plate to the veranda and Ammachi after putting out the fire joined me. We would sit and watch the rain while Ammachi told me stories. I eagerly waited for today’s story telling session, and I silently hoped that Appa and Amma would be late to pick me up.
I asked Ammachi’ how did you meet Appachan(grandfather)?’
Ammachi tilted her head to one side and while munching the tapioca chips, simply replied, “I don’t remember much about your grandfather now, in fact, I can’t even remember what he looked like.”
I was taken aback; I just couldn’t understand how my grandmother could forget what her husband looked like. Ammachi saw the puzzled expressions on my face and imparted, “I was a young girl like you once up on a time, went to school in the morning, came back in the afternoon, helped my parents in the farm. Played hide and seek game with my friends in the evening and went to church on Sunday. My only worry then was if I would have enough chalk to write the entire term.