Archive for October, 2008

The Village and ‘I’- Sixty Years Ago

October 28, 2008

The Village and I – Sixty Years Ago

 

PART- I

 

Introduction:

 

I got a brain wave at about 1.15 AM, when I just woke up and my effort to go back to sleep was futile. Of course, an earlier, similar attempt of mine in Telugu named “ Swagatham” was published in a popular Telugu weekly “ Andhra Jyothi”. Thereafter, it took more than a few days just to begin writing about it. In the meanwhile, I started getting ideas about the topics and how to tell arrange and edit my ideas. My dad wrote Telugu verse ‘Madhura Smruthulu’ his nostalgia. While I was on a long drive with friends, I happened a share an incident during my boyhood days in a village when we boys used to drink water straight form the village water tank or small canal with out any fear of consequences of water pollution. What a change!  My mind went into a flashback overdrive and I was overflowing with the scenes, nostalgia, topography and highlights of the village life. I consider myself fortunate to have spent my first 14 years of boyhood.  Many of the senior citizens now, who lived in villages in their early years, would have had similar background. Let me frank enough to admit that I am not either an experienced writer or a voracious reader. Except, I have put a few items for a blog for sometime and writing a few ‘ Letters to the Editor’ columns. Some of us would have read or watched ‘Malgudi Days’ an interesting boyhood of a character “Swamy or Samy” as his grandmother used to call him in the T V Serial made of this novel of Sri R K Narayan. I was surprised to know that the town/village  ‘Malgudi’   does not exist on map. These reminiscences may be highly irrelevant in the present days or of value for the coming years. It is a history, which you alone can recall and recount as a unique individual who had gone through these experiences and lived to enjoy/suffer those moments. With all the technological advances available now, Can we create my same village as existed sixty years back and give me the same pleasures and pains as were etched in my memory.  All these memories exist as long I exist!  I have not used any of my imagination or fiction, but entirely based on factual recall of my memories, as I perceived the events then. I preferred this topic than writing about my few trips abroad. 

 

 The village, I am going to take you with me was an existing one and me the person to describe is also very much alive. These seem to be a great mystery to the later generations even to those living now in villages. Forget about those who are either fully city or town bred desis.  They may not even be able to believe it. A little caution here about the fact that I may be mentioning a little about social structure existing that time. I was deliberately elaborate as the readers may find difficult visualize the scenes. It is not meant to demean any caste or disrespect to any profession, as it existed then. In fact, some of my best friends were from other castes.  I could recall the events, may be due to the fact I was carefree, no biases or prejudices and my mind was not so polluted with Sex, Caste or money matters and other worries. I was also very receptive to the world, which was my village then. I only wish I could get expert skills of narrating it intesrestingly. It was with absolute faith and affection to parents and general respect to elders. I was never enquiring how a person was related to me that way. As an example, There were many uncles, aunts etc., which I accepted them as it was without ever asking elders, how he/ she became my Uncle or aunt.

 

The Pen Picture :

 

 I am now 64 years of age and recently gone through birthday. I spent my first fourteen years in a village. Thereafter except for a few days visits, rarely to the village, the rest of my life is spent in towns, cities and even abroad. I even wonder myself sometimes, whether it was real. But, I happened to be a miniscule part of that interesting history of a village.

 

The Village:

 

The village is “KANUMOLU” and it exists even now, but in the present context. To give an idea of the location, it is in Krishna District, about 3.5 km from Nuzvid Railway station or 2.5 km from Hanuman Junction towards Gudivada.  Incidentally, a film with the latter name was released a few years ago. It is not only a junction of roads but also separates two districts and three Mandals. Now let us see the surroundings of the village.

Many villages surrounded “KANUMOLU”. I am using the past tense knowingly to make the difference clear of the ‘ Kanumolu’ village now and the “ KANUMOLU” Village that was part of my nostalgia sixty years ago. To make it brief May I use ‘K’ for that “KANUMOLU”.  The nearest towns were Gudivada one side and Eluru on other side both about 12 km away. Of course, Vijayawada a very big town was 40 Km away where I happened to be my birthplace. As one enters the village from H Junction side, there was a big canal named “Eluru Canal”.  The “Perikeedu Bridge” over that has not changed over these years or the High-tension electrical poles coming immediately thereafter. There come across small water canal coming from the Eluru canal and then road takes a steep right turn. During my later visits, I used to get thrilled and memories of past events in that areas run like reels and pass my memory.  I learnt cycling on hired bicycles on those very same roads. Then the landmark Board High School later became Z P H School and elementary school. The other side of the road is the playground.  There is water tank and Panchayati office and the bus stop. Having reached up to the Village K now let me revert back to identifying some of the landmarks from my memory. 

 

‘K’ had two main water tanks and two temples one for Lord “ Sitaramaswami “ and other for Lord Shiva. One Ramalayam was also there on the main road but not so much patronized.  It had many other important spots like a Post Office, a Sub-Registar Office, Panchayati office etc.; they come to focus as I reveal my associations through them.  There were also some landmark trees, but many of them have vanished during these long sixty years.  Now let me go back to a little history and my family and my home backdrop.

 

How K and Why K:  

 

I am neither aware nor made enquiries to fathom how and why my forefathers happened to settle at this particular village. I was told that my paternal side Great Grand father   whose name was Seshacharyulu also stayed in the same K. He had a big property of fertile land supposed to be part of Vuyyur Estate. There were all rice fields. The Zamindaars who were “Velamas” by caste used live in Nuzvid, a small town about 16 km away from ‘K’. One of my forefather was said to have great chess player and he used with the Zamindaars also. My grand father Ramanujacharyulu called Addanki Ramayya garu also worked as a Thanedar with the Estate for some time.  The only source of income was the produce from the land. My father had also very brief stints with jobs. There was a system of dependable services from the traditional skills. The whole system of payments to salaries to servants, dhobi, mangali etc., was in number of grain bags namely barter system.

Our provisions are from a baniya shop called ‘kandula vari kottu’. New clothes were purchased on credit. It was a pucca credit system without a credit card! He used to offer me a piece of jaggery when I ordered our provisons. He was also paid after harvest.  Most of the accounting was once a year and that too after harvest. We used to keep grains, pulses etc stored for the entire year. The exchange of money was rare.  During my boyhood, now I regret, I did not occur to me nor found it necessary   to ask my grand father/ father or seniors about our earlier lineage in K.   I can only recall the name upto my great great grand father as Nammalwar.

 

 

My Home:

 

It was a big old, may be already about 60 years by then, tiled house called “ Manduva Illu” facing exactly east and west. My father got this house from his father. His father had built a new house two-storied “Meda” on the same wall on the north side. It was a combined type of house, only a door separating the two houses. My father lived financially independent but very closely with his father’s family. My Grand father had four children and we three children are of about the same age groups. Anyway, we had lots of people always.  Our house was in the “Brahmin Street” and straight it leads to  tank ” Cheruvu.’ Our house was on 700 Sq yards. and another 1400 Sq. yards open space to the left. Many dug up yards existed as the soil was put (Pati Matti) to fields.   The areas I came to know only when I had to dispose it off. It had 3 rooms 2 halls, a kitchen and a bathroom. Front west side portion used be given on rent. The portion was to serve as quarters for   Head Master of the school over many years.

I had 2 elder sisters who are about 3 years and 8 years older. My two uncles were also about 4 and 10 years elder. Two aunts one is just younger and another older by 3 years. My younger uncle and myself were classmates till fourth form, i.e. for three years.

 

 

 

 

My Studies:

 

I did not attend regular elementary school but was taught by a private teacher who was also the pujari in Shiva temple. He was provided with a small house in my G fathers yard.  I appeared for direct admission to second form i.e. 7th class and passed. My elder sister got selected to only first form.  Before, I joined the school my father used to work as a science teacher for a few years and later worked as a secretary of the school. The school was upto SSLC that is 11th class.

 

So, my schooling for five years there went uninterrupted. I had taken composite mathematics as optional in fifth form, which was supposed to be little difficult than general mathematics. That was, for my studies, was  to select an option for the first time. There was no electricity and myself and my second elder sister used to have two buudi deepalu. Lanterns were a bit of luxury for night dinner. On special and festive occasions and functions we used a petromax lights. That was really fun and thrill watching the process of lighting it up. Other days, .my mother used clean up the glasses with ‘muggu’ and wicks and fill them up with kerosene for use by evening.   Carrying these buddi deepams in wind without putting off used to be challenge.  It was like a big festival and great event in our lives when power (Current) came to K and our families were one among many of first users in K.  That time I experimented to find out which was positive and negative in a plug and I got a severe electric shock.  I studied for five years from 1952 and completed my SSLC examination 1958.  I was fourteen years old then. I do not remember to have worked hard for studies.  The daily routine was so exciting with games, relations, extra-curricular activities, festivals, friends, Yogaasanas, games, sports and the nature. But, my mother was insisting of our returning from games after dark to study. We used walk to the school daily about one km. Without chappals. We avoided the hot surface of tar roads to walk . But school vacations used to coincide with summer months. There was no uniform and wear clothes washed by the washerwoman at ‘Kalayigunta’.  Ironing or starching of clothes was restricted to very special. All the clothes were cotton. I used knickers with cross baddi and full pant was for grownups only. 

The Fuel and Water.

 

My mother used cook with firewood in the kitchen and in the corner there used a ‘daali’ that used cow dung bricks as fuel. Milk used be boiled on heat on that for many hours.  Charcoal was a costly fuel and used for making coffee or heating milk etc., Charcoal ‘kumpati’ lit with burning paper and fan it to burn. The firewood used to give smoke when wet and it was sometimes my job to order firewood from firewood shop.  The utensils used were of copper, brass, earthen. Aluminum utensils were new then. Some of the cooking vessels and even for storing water were quite big called “ gangalamu’. All wooden chairs and tables made of black rose wood. My grand father had an iron safe. It used be get opened on rare occasions only by elders. The pickles used to stored in big jars and were taken out. As a boy, I was asked to remove all my clothes to bring it down. It was called “ Madi’. My mother and my Mamma(nayinamma)  (My father’s Step mother) used cook only with Madi, and we were not allowed to enter kitchen during cooking with our normal dress.  I remember my mother used to churn curds to make butter and butter milk. Curds were not served at dinner and buttermilk was more popular than curds. My mother used recite many slokas from her memory while cooking.

   

 All of our family, the then existing method, used to brush our teeth with cow dung ash made into paste by a little water. Our tongue cleaners were “ Tataakulu” small portions of palm leaf. I used to carry small vessel with water to sit on the ‘Arugu’ to complete my brushing. The ‘ kacchikalu and thatakulu used to be preserved and kept ready for brushing Even attending nature’s call was filled with fun and frolic. Small group f boys used to go to “ Kalayigunta” to defecate in the open fields there. Some times, pigs used to come to clean it up.  The cleaning used to be done in the nearby pond or small canal.  . We used to have two types of water one from the well in my grandfathers’ backyard  slightly saltish for our bath etc., and fresh water from tank for drinking. We used to get tank water delivered by a priest of the temple in the mornings,. He used to carry water in tow big utensils attached to a stick and hanged both sides at equal distance. It was called “ Kavidi”. That time I used to admire the water taps when I happened to visit towns. We used to take out water from well with small bucket attached to rope put over the pulley on the well.

 

I have many more things about the food habits, my friends, our games, village scenes of goldsmith, carpenter, our servants, village fair, marriages, my fathers’ “Naya Gurukul”, visits of some VIPs, agriculture and our travels and my visits to Calcutta and other towns, Radio, cinemas etc., to narrate to you. But, let me conclude the part I and leave it to the readers reaction before venturing into part-2.

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                

 

 

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