Kochu Maharani

Most of the workers were already in the field cutting the hay. They all tucked their lungi high and wore a towel turban. The women knealt down and cut the hay with the sickle and the men helped to stack them in bundles.
Once in a while they would get up ,stretch their back.Then they would remove the towel from their head, open it wipe their face and their neck. Occassionally they would walk to the small bund where they keep their steel drink container. They would twist the top and open the container. Take a little bit of water and wash their face, then drink a bit, swirl it in their mouth and spit. Then they would hold the container up and tilt and drink the water that is now flowing out.
All the women must have been in their 30’s except one. She was the smallest. When she brought the hay stack to the store I saw her face. She probably was my age. She smiled at me. I wanted to talk to her, but she went back to the field.
Once in a while, one of the men would start singing and the women would follow. I couldn’t understand what they were singing. But it was really nice to hear it. The man leading and the women singing in chorus.
I saw Chakki bringing a big steel pot. She kept the pot on the small bund and spoke something to the workers. Soon all of them stopped working and walked towards the pot.
I wanted to ask Chakki, what is inside the pot, but I was still angry with her for not hugging me after Ammachi beat me. I saw Chakki walking towards where I was sitting. I pretended I didn’t see her.
Chakki stood right infront of me and I explored the beauty of my toes.
“Kochu maharani, would you be wanting to eat your lunch?” she asked me.
I pretended I didn’t hear.
“I made payaruthoran (green gram curry)for the royal lunch today”. She announced again.
I looked at her from the corner of my eyes and could see the warm smile on her face.
“I could carry your royal highness to the kitchen”. She spoke again.
I couldn’t stay angry with her anymore and I got up. She carried me all the way to the kitchen.
“Kochu maharani, you are getting too heavy”. She said
“that is because, you cook nice food Chakki”.
Ammachi was in the kitchen and I didn’t want to speak to her.
She looked at me and I stared back thinking to myself ‘if you are Methran Thambi’s wife, I am his grand daughter.aha’.
She must have know what I was thinking, because she burst out laughing and I ran to her and she hugged me.
“Nina, next time you take anything from my cupboard, ask me first”.
“ok.ok ok”
Ammachi and I sat down to have our lunch and I asked her
“Why did you make me cut the paddy this morning?”
“Nina, now this is your land, you are the boss and you should start the harvest” “What about Appa and Maria?
“Your father is good for nothing!!”
I looked at her and told her with a smile on my face
“Don’t you say anything bad about my father”
“oho..and Why is that?” she asked me
“Because he has a daughter to speak for him”. I replied.
“Like father like daughter..good for nothing!!”
We both laughed. I wondered what my father would do, if he knew his own mother thinks that he is good for nothing.
“What about Maria, she is older than me.?” I asked her
“Can you even imagine Maria getting her feet and hands dirty?.
I thought how Maria never come out and play with us, she thinks the sun would make her complexion dark. I couldn’t picture Maria being a farmer. But I could imagine myself following my grandmother’s foot step and one day stay in this house and manage this farm. My land,my home.

15 thoughts on “Kochu Maharani

  1. I remember our harvest so well, then we used to have a huge adupu in the backyard and used to cook nellu in it.

    So do u see urself going to start farming anytime soon

  2. Thanu:I am well known as a plant killer..My mother forbids me from ever coming close to her garden..
    I once succesfully grew a pot of money plant in the med school, it survived till I read in Femina tht you can add vitamin pills to potted plants to make them thrive better…I made sure the vitamin pill I added was 100%RDA for human..the next morning my lovely money plant looked very much like I fed it nuclear fuel..end of farming and gardening
    Should i sue the wonderful person who wrote in Femina abt feeding vitamins to plants, for destroying my future??

  3. I used to see the harvest, in the field near my home.. but never heard of any songs. But did hear songs when I been towards village side. May be to keep the enthu going..!!.. in childhhod.. how ever anger we are.. we lose it very fast đŸ™‚

  4. I never lived in Kerala but vacationed there every year and your posts really fill in the gaps for me. It’s like I am seeing the months I wasn’t there in kerala to see, if you know what i mean.

  5. yes,yes,
    I know now where you belong to, where I can hear the same songs, the same rythum, see the same Chakkis.

    But can I now ??

    You are from Kuttanadu, aren’t you ? LOL

  6. I too had a Chakki, she is still with us. She came with us to Blr as a 12 year old, went back to marry, was betrayed by her husband and came back to us for good. I can’t do without her. She has a fantastic sense of humor and understands my jokes and I am so glad she is with us. We watch TV together in her room and make fun of the mallu serials, sometimes we put off the volume and say our own dialogues. It will be hilarious!!! I remember the first time I held the Paddy fronds to cut. It was so rough, but I did cut it to start the ‘koyuthu*’ season.
    (*I hope I got the word correct)
    It was the one time I was in Kerala during harvest season. And the singing that wafts from the fields is so melodious!!! Taking Kattan Kaapi for the workers was another pleasure and then they would sit around me and tease my accented Malayalam.
    *sigh* Those were the days!!!
    Never stop writing….

  7. Brilliant. I could see Chakki coming to that bund and asking you “??????????????? ??? ????????????”. And guess that thoran won’t be a curry.
    Ho Payaruthoranum Kanjeem.. Anandalabdi kkiniyenthu venom.
    As silverine said, Those were the days …

  8. never had the fortune of seeing a harvest, but have seen it in movies and yes, there is always these wonderful songs with a lead singer and then the chorus. It was nice to see Ammachi and Nina sorting it out in such a lovely way. Nina must have felt so proud in the last…

  9. Sujit: They used to sing..Koithu pattu, sometimes vadakkan pattu and sometimes thekkan pattu. It was so nice to hear it.
    Me;filling in the blanks eh?
    Jac:Changannur itself..20 mints walk from the Bhagavathy temple…Yes those moments keep playing in my mind, but those people..they are long gone!
    Silverine:Chakki was a person I adored. I loved her so much. She could be a domestic help one moment, a big sister the next moment,a mother in another moment. She was an all in one package.
    Dhanush:You got the essence. Chakki walking to me with her saree tucked on one corner and asking tht..with a grin on her face…
    Jithu:sho! enthoru ormaya ethu.
    I have to make tons of money to get tht last sentence come true.. So I can buy back the land!!
    Arjun:My grandmother couldn’t stay angry for too long. She laughed all the time.
    I don’t know if people still sing those koithu pattu now. I learned vadakkan veergatha from those songs they sang..

  10. When you say it is gone, it is not gone.
    You will get it in audio and video cassettes or else you can visit SB college campus, where you can hear it from a ‘Cheduthy’ who will gladly sing it to you, for a song. LOL

    Are you Sarah? You write so well.

  11. wow!that’s so cool
    It’s so nice.I have never seen those lovely fields they show in the movies and in the songs where the hero and heroine prance around.
    Always thought the grass must smell so nice out there and the earth….so fresh..just like the beginning!

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