At 12 any place is good as long as you are fed, clothed and a have person to care for you. Despite the insignificance I seem to give to the house I lived in then, it has great memories attached.
No.12/3 Narayana Bhavanam,
Thiruvalluvar street,SS Colony,
Madurai, 625016. This house, one of the five row houses which have common walls and a small front pathway which led to every one’s portion was my abode till I turned 19.
A 180 square foot area divided into
4 by 10 front partition which one could call as verandah. Then comes a 8 by 10 area which served as living, dining and sleeping place. Then a 3 by 10 space for kitchen and another 3 by 10 for bathroom and washing areas.
A common backyard which was as wide as our house made space for drying clothes , small kids’play ground, a washing stone for some to sit and chat, and space for drying home made fryums and pickles and a lot more. The adjacent bungalow’s guava tree, neem tree and coconut tree showering blessings of shade, giving the luxury of greenery and occassional fruit fall made our living worthy there.
Our right side neighbour’s early mornings stirrings even before the cock crows with the clanking of pots and pans wakes us all like an unfailing alarm clock. If you happen to sleep in the front partition then you hear the heavy bucket connecting the floor, water splashing and the broom stick grating on the floor for decorating the house front with white flour( in olden days people used rice flour, now chalk powder), a sign of welcome.
Next what we know is everybody around is awake. The front passage way wall which is the back of two other bungalows gives us the privilege of hearing people brush, clean their tongue and throat so loudly that you feel that they are cleaning for the entire neighbourhood.
Then a maelstorm of sounds get merged with your own which ranges from pressure cooker’s whistles, milkman’ cycle bell, newspaper man’s call mixed with the aroma of coffee, idli and sambar( standard breakfast dishes) and many more. All senses are assaulted at once and then before you realise, you are out to catch the school bus which stops a street away and you run to meet friends trudging out of their houses the same way.
Evenings are similar with many voices talking and with increased movements you feel that you are amidst a huge family. Our front doors once opened in the morning is almost never closed until at night when all goes to sleep. So the small portioned houses do not appear small at all as people walk in and out from any portion any time dissolving the partitions,making the entire dwelling into one big mansion.
That house held
My innocent laughter.
With my friends the incessant banter.
That house held
My dreams innocent
Worth many a cents.
That house held
Joys, griefs, guilts and cries.
That house saw me
Grow from a girl into a woman
With all the vagaries blown
That house showed me
Life’ s ups and downs
Made me at times queen and clown.
That house is my best till date!
After 30 years it has been bulldozed to erect a multistorey building, but in my memories it would stay as part of my past, my self forever.