“Yeah. We have enough groceries that’d last for another week. And you?”
“Yes yes. We do. Inga nalla iruttitu varudhu..Anga epdi?“, mom asked.
“No luck yet. Who knows, at this rate the Sun might even melt my organs in a couple of days”, I sighed.
Although truth to be told, when mom hinted a possible indication of rains in her place (my hometown) , the mere news gave the necessary cool-down effect to my exasperated aura. You know, after all the usual Corona news exchange and stuff, this definitely glinted some positivity ahead.
It’s going to be an year since we relocated to one of the hottest places in South India where according to the local weather experts, there are four seasons – hot, hotter, hottest and peak Summer where one should be careful not to wash their bottoms even in the middle of the night before checking the tap water’s temperature because..you risk, you end up frying your own buns.
Needless to say, with the impact of Corona breakdown, the inconvenience of the so-called peak Summer is felt only too much this year. People suggest various ideas to survive the sultry weather. Drink tender coconut water, bite some cucumber slices, gulp down a cup of buttermilk and what not. You get all such redundant advice on diet from every person in the family via Whatsapp forwards and Facebook posts. But my treat for you is going to be something different. In this post, I’ll take you back to those 90’s Summer days and serve you the best literary feast based on the nostalgic memories I am going to recollect. Hold my hands.
For us kids (for once, allow me to be the kid in this parenting blog. It’s so comforting!) , Summer begins when the Annual exam ends. To me, finishing off the last exam, which is mostly the easiest exam of all (like Art or GK) is also part of the excitement. The exam hall emits an air of freedom and joy. Even the teachers display wider smiles and avoid caning the naughty kids as much as possible.
The van-ride back home is the most vivid memory I can recall from the 90’s. It is nearly a forty five minute journey from my school to our street. The roads were too bumpy but we never cared a bit. While the boys make paper balls out of question paper and throw them out of the window, the girls chit-chat or sing and laugh. If I remember right, it was until sixth standard, the tiny triangular edge of a large seat used to be the spot I was allowed to sit (Equality, my foot!). The comfortable sections of the seat were regularly occupied by girls (read: bullies) in bigger uniforms.
My spot, although not a great place to rest myself, gave an amazing view of the places we cover during the journey. We head back home for the Summer holidays, ironically, that’s when it rains the most. Every time, the van stops to drop a kid, the roads, shiny, black and wet, bordered by careless patch of chemmann (red soil) sends out a divine fragrance of mother earth. Manvaasanai, the sweet smell of rain-kissed soil wasn’t a rarity those days.
Almost, well, almost every house we pass by, has flowering plants flaunted all over their compound walls. Crotons, Hibiscus, Vaadamalli, Ixora and Roses can be commonly seen in every house and a pair of strictly different colored Roses are pinned to the girls’ pigtails in the evenings.
Upon reaching home, I refresh myself while my mom packs the books and leaves my bag and lunch bag outside for a wash. While I’m busy stuffing my face with evening snacks, mom sweeps the muttram with her old-fashioned broomstick aka vaariyal that is made from the stalk of dried coconut leaves. Ladies in our street, including my mom, are obsessed with keeping the space inside their walls speckless. Hence, one cannot fail to notice a faint yet regular, rhythmic pattern of screechy broomsticks from one house or the other between four o clock and five thirty in the evening.
“It’s all yours from tomorrow!!”, mom thrusts the broomstick into my hands after investing (wasting) all her energy scrubbing a barely utilised space to perfection.
The first day of Summer vacation begins tomorrow. My cousins are going to board their buses tonight and will arrive at grandma’s house which is at a stone’s throw from mine. I don’t really know how we are going to spend this Summer but I’m already sure it’s going to be memorable.
—-to be continued—-