“Ammachi, Ammachi”.. We were shouting and yelling and running towards our house.
Ammachi was in the kitchen cooking lunch and she came out wiping her hands on the side of her mundu (sarong)
“What is it Kuttan?, Why are you screaming like this? Did your tail catch fire?”
Both of us were panting and gasping for breath. between the two of us, we managed to convey the message to Ammachi
“Chakochan has climbed our jackfruit tree and is stealing our jackfruit. “
“From which tree?” Ammachi asked Kutten
“The tree near the fence.” Kutten pointed again
“How dare he, I will teach that old man a lesson today”.
Ammachi took the sickle and walked towards the jackfruit tree near the fence. Kutten and I followed right behind.
“Kuttetta, don’t get in to any trouble”. Chakki reminded him.
When we reached the tree near the fence, Chackochan has already tied a rope on the fruit stem and is slowly cutting the fruit from the tree. The rope would prevent the heavy fruit from dropping to the ground.
“What are you doing on top of our jackfruit tree?” Ammachi asked Chackochan.
“Your tree, how can it be?”. Chackochan spoke
“You old man, Are you blind or what? Don’t you remember this tree was planted as a boundary mark? Can’t you see where the tree trunk is?” ammachi pointed the tree trunk and asked
“You old woman, can’t you see where the branches are?, The tree trunk must be in your land, but the branches are certainly on my side of the land. The leaves get sunshine from my side of the land and it is me who cleans all the dried leaves that falls from this tree every day. So the fruit is mine.”
“aiyyeda, what kind of a logic is that? No court will agree to that logic. It is my fruit, from my tree. I am the one who waters it every summer.” Spoke Ammachi.
Meanwhile Chackochan slowly lowered the jackfruit from the tree using the rope.
“Give me back my jackfruit” Ammachi ordered.
We watched Chackochan climbing down to the lowest branch and then jumping down. He picked the fruit from the floor and removed the rope.
“I have no intention. I am going to cook this beauty today”. he gently massaged the spiny jackfruit skin with affection and tenderness.
Ammachi called me to approach her and whispered in my ears.
“Nina, run to the kitchen and ask Chakki for some rice.”
“Listen to me, child and do what I tell you to”. Ammachi was getting annoyed with me.
I ran to the kitchen Chakki was standing on the door step, trying to see what exactly is going on.
“What are the lovers up to now?” She asked me
“Chackochan is trying to steal our jackfruit and now Ammachi wants me to bring some rice”
“What is she going to do with the rice? Chakki asked me
“I don’t know”.
“ente parashinmekkal Bhagavathy(oh my god) when would these two people act their age?” Chakki mumbled.
She gave me rice, I made a pouch with my blouse and placed the rice inside and ran all the way to where Ammachi was standing.
“So Chackocha, anything that is in your land is yours and anything in my land is mine. Right”
“Right, Chackochan grinned like a victor and nodded his head.
Ammachi sprinkled the rice close to the fence and started saying
“kozhi ba ba ba, kozhi ba ba“
Soon all of Chackochan’s hens and roosters were approaching the barbed wire fence. Ammachi took another handful of rice and sprinkled it again, which acted like a cue and the hens and the roosters were jostling, trying to fly in to our side of the fence to eat the rice.
Chackochan dropped the jackfruit on the ground and started to chase the hens away from the fence.
Ammachi continued to sprinkle the rice and call the hens. Finally one managed to enter our land.
“Catch the hen, Kuttan, if he is eating jackfruit for lunch, I am having chicken curry.”
Kutten and I started to chase the hen, trying to catch it.
“old woman, tell Kuttan not to chase that hen, that one is an egg laying hen, if you scare her, she wouldn’t lay any more eggs”
“Don’t worry about the eggs Chackocha, I am eating her this afternoon”
Kutten managed to catch the hen and gave it to Ammachi. Ammachi held the cackling and panting hen close to her body and started to walk towards the house. Kutten and I followed right behind the leader.
We heard a thud sound and turned to look
“Here, take your jackfruit and give me back my hen”. Chackochan spoke kindly to Ammachi.
“What is in my land is mine, and now the jackfruit is also mine”
“Kuttan go get the jackfruit.” Ammachi ordered and she continued to walk.
Chackochan looked at the jackfruit now on our side of the fence. There is no way he could jump over the barbed wire and get it back. the look on his face was unforgettable. I felt sorry for him.
“Ammachi, give him back the hen”. I pleaded
“Why should I?, He is the one who told me, “what is in my land is mine”
“Ammachi, please forgive him, he gave the jackfruit back anyway.”
“ok” She finally relented and gave the hen to me and told
“Go and give”
When I went to return the hen, Chackochan told me
“Your grandmother is a kanthari ( spicier than a jalapeno pepper).
“Ammachi, Chackochan is calling you..” Before I could Complete Chackochan pleaded
“Aiyo Kochumaharani, don’t. Your grandmother would cut me up in to a million pieces, then even the doctors won’t be able to stitch back”.