Sunday, March 19, 2006


I was reading this post by mindcurry today. It took me back a few years when I turned 12. My first thought on my 12th birthday was “oh no, I am no longer a kid, my parents will not love me like they did before!” But nothing changed. Now a decade later nothing has changed. I am still their little girl they fuss over, though I do a bit of fussing over them too. I am happy for these constants in my life, my Dad, Mom, brothers and some cousins and aunts and uncles. My parents are from an agricultural background. Their people are some of the nicest Malayalaees that I have met. Simple, hardworkind, loving and absolutely crazy about us kids. Even though my Dad has six brothers there was no haggling over family property and subsequent enmity that happens in Syrian Catholic homes and the brothers have a respect for each other that is so heart warming to watch. When I hear about property disputes, I thank God that a piece of land did not tear my Dad’s or Mom’s family apart as it has done to so many families. I can walk into my Uncles homes, which are close to each other and feel the special bond between our families. And what is more heart warming is that their wives get along so well too. These ladies are from six different families but come together for any function, help each other out, go to church together and fight over who gets to oil my hair and plait it !! I am the only niece for my uncles and hence a bone of contention for the aunties!!! In fact one of the most enduring memories from child hood was coconut oil and eyebrow pencil.Everyday one aunt or the other would oil my hair and plait it, then take the eyebrow pencil and draw a long line vertically on my forehead, which is a Keral style 'pottu' or 'bindi'. Then my eyes would be lined with the eyeliner till I looked like a raccoon!! Then each aunty would take me to their maternal homes to show me off :) I think I used to look horrendous but bore up all the attention I got as a price for being the only girl in the family :)

Today I hear about yet another family that has split apart because of land dispute. What is it with us mallus and land? We are so greedy for any cent we can pick up that we will even throw our old parents out to appropriate land. While growing up the most common topic for family discussions in Kerala was property wars being fought by some family or other. It saddened me. Why are property disputes so complicated? Why can’t they just share it equally and remain as a family?


quills said...

It's a tragic tale indeed when blood ties are forgotten for some piece of real estate. Thankfully in my parents' families too that has not been the situation. My dad's family is from Kottayam-Kanjirappally and from what I have seen, the people from those regions are simple and caring folks with lots of love in their hearts and respect for others.

Mind Curry said...

Then my eyes would be lined with the eyeliner till I looked like a raccoon!!

hahaha!! i burst out laughing..just last night i watched a raccoon on discovery and was quite impressed! :)

well..its true, mallus are quite petty in everything. there is a lack of class in anything, like i wrote earlier as though we just came out of the forest.

my dad was kind of pushed out of his family as the rest of the clan took over whatever property his folks had made. but he never fought, but did amazingly well the rest of his life. the same with my mom's dad.

today, i give less importance to all those material things,probably because my dad and mom struggled and provided me with more than enough of those, though i know deep within ultimately money is power, and the world spins around it.

Mind Curry said...

so whats mannu? who is? is it the li'l kid in the horlicks ad? :) were you like that?

silverine said...

@Quills: We are from Pala. And it is indeed a tragedy to see families splitting up over property.
@Mindcurry:Thank God the raccoon impressed you :))This is so common in Kerala, where a decent sibling is pushed out of his/her share of property rights.And mannu as I explained earlier is earth in mallu :)

Ganja Turtle said...

Hi...dont think its a Kerala thing...from what I know, its pretty common in Tamil Nadu also...mammon speaks all languages and crosses all borders ;-)

Arti Honrao said...

"When I hear about property disputes, I thank God that a piece of land did not tear my Dad’s or Mom’s family apart as it has done to so many families" ~ Touchwood!!!!

N it is not only wid mallu prb is in ne family... :(
Get d point gurl?

well ... pls check
would love 2 hv u as member :)


Jithu said...

i came to knw abt this blog of urs only now. used to come to ur other blog from the bookmark. well personally i liked this one more than the other one. :-) there is a warmth in reading these posts. i read only the first few posts btw.

silverine said...

@GT and Arti: Well, I can only speak of my community. But this is particularly virulent in Kerala because of the large tracts of agricultural land that people own. I was actually talking of the agricultural land disputes, since most mallus own agricultural land even if they are working outside Kerala.
@Arti: Checked the link. I will def be a frequent visitor though I cannot contribute due to lack of time. Thank you for the invitation :)
@Jithu: Thanks buddy. This is a personal journal. Poomanam is where I would have fun and somehow it became popular. So I retreated here to ramble and rant and muse over the mundane things in life :)

Chaayakkada said...

I remember, it was the most beautiful vacation in my life. It was way back in 1992, when I was 10. All my Uncles and Aunts had come home for that vacation with their kids. We kids enjoyed every second of it. Towards the end of vacation things started changing. Everybody seemed to be serious and one fine morning I woke up to realize that something serious is happening in the drawing room of our old fashioned “tharavadu”. They were splitting the ancestral property among themselves. That’s when I realized why everybody came home for that vacation. After that, relationships were spoiled; Uncles and Aunts never came for vacations, and I could not meet my cousins for years.

After 5-6 years they realized what went wrong and all started coming back. A couple of them who were in Bombay settled in the same ancestral home which they split some years back. Now I feel whatever happened was for good. It actually taught them the value of relationships. The coming vacation is going to very special and remarkable in my family history. We kids who watched everything silently about 15 years back paved the way for a reunion. I am going to enjoy another vacation.

Jagan said...

property related family issues has nothing to do with mallus happens everywhere has happened to us too.

Arti Honrao said...

Aiyyayo u not joiningah :-s
No prbs gurl I can understand ...
U visit us n that wud be jus fine


Dewaker Basnet said...

only if we (humans) could be a little more humane...
i guess that's what we learn as we develop more grey cells within us..we start exploring the world with greyer eyes:(

had been to kerala sometime back..the plaits which u mentioned took me back to the land.. had seen tiny tots with long frocks running around the place, all with plaits:)

beautiful place, beautiful people...

silverine said...

@Chaayakada: I wish property division did not carry the rancour that leads to family divisions. And it is heartening to note that some of your family members have returned to the Tharavadu. I think every mallu would like to return to Kerala one day, but the prevailing political climate puts them off. This is a very nice turn of events indeed. At the end of the day, property can never compensate for famliy. I hope you have a great time at the get together.
@Jagan: I dunno about your community, I can only talk of mine.
@Arti: I will def be a frequent visitor :)
@Dewaker: Beautiful place indeed! That's why it is called Gods own Country :)

Alexis Leon said...

Just felt like reading like my family story. Only difference is that I amJust felt like reading like my family story. Only difference is that I am the eldest in my family. I have a younger sister and my brother is the youngest. My dad has two brothers and 6 sisters.

Yes you are correct regarding the fights among family members for land. It has only intensified in the recent times. There are many cases where brothers sue brothers and even parents. Very sad state of affairs.

Arti Honrao said...

Story @ my blog is over ...
need ur shubh charan to bless my blog n ur view point to gaurofy my comment corner ;;)


silverine said...

@Alexis: very sad state of affairs indeed :(
@Arti:Read and commented on the very beautifully crafted story :)