“Ammachi shall I cook kanji (porridge) before I leave?” Chakki asked.
“Hmm, make some thoran(dry fried veg with coconut) as well. He (my father)likes thoran.“ Ammachi replied
I wanted to ask Ammachi ‘why is my father late, but then we will have another discussion about fate and I didn’t want to hear any more.
Evening time is different in Chengannur house. Unlike my parents home, where the house gets livelier in the evening when everyone returns, in Chengannur you feel more lonely in the evening. You feel like the tortoise, pulling the head inside and hiding.
In the evening everything has to be returned. The cows has to be brought back to the cattle shed. Hens to their coop. The rubber sheets have to be removed from the clothes line outside and hung in the kitchen window slats and Chakki goes home with Kutten.
I sat on the veranda and watched Chakki walking on the bund with Kutten. As her shadow became smaller, my heart felt heavier. I felt a sense of doom and loneliness.I was all alone in Chengannur house with Ammachi.
The air stood still and there was pin drop silence. I know it won’t last long. The frogs in the paddy field and the cricekts in the ground will start their orchestra soon.
“Nina, come we have work to do.” Ammachi called me
“What work, I thought we did everything, before Chakki left?”
“Not yet, kandathum kettathum will start at 8 PM”
“but your radio doesn’t work!”
“Ofcourse it works”
“Then why didn’t you ever use it?”
“I use it every sunday to listen to kandathum Kettathum (a small skit full of jokes)when you are not around”
“Firstly I don’t want to switch on the radio all the time and waste electricity, secondly I don’t want you to play it all day long and give me a headache”
“Ammachi how could you not tell me your radio was working?”
“You never asked me, if it is working, Nina!”
I was so mad at her, for not telling me all these times that her radio was working, and I was even more mad at me for assuming that it doesn’t work. We had a colour television when we were in Malaysia. In Kerala, there was no television and my only consolation was the radio. I liked to listen to the cinema songs. The station plays cinema songs every afternoon at 1 pm. Because I am at school at that time I miss it except during the weekend.
Ammachi removed the stripped cloth cover and switched on her radio and it cackled. She adjusted the silver knobs and we heard the station announcer announcing
“akashavani, thiruvananthapuram,thrissur Alappuzha. Kandathum kettathum”. (Radio announcement)
Ammachi was laughing listening to the jokes in the 10 minutes skit. The moment it is finished, she got up switched off the radio.
“Why are you switching off the radio?” I asked her
“My radio and I can do what I want with it”
“I am not going to talk to you anymore”. I sulked
“too bad. I was going to tell you a story of a warrior”.
our family treassure