Saturday, July 08, 2006
Home is where the heart is...
Down the street from where I live, live an old couple. Mr and Mrs George. After retirement they had settled down in Bangalore, as their children were studying here. Uncle is 86 years old. Aunty died last month. They have lived a better part of their retired life alone after their kids migrated to the US. Since there are so many mallu families in my area, they never felt the pinch of not having anyone around them. Then age began to catch up and soon, they were unable to go out and visit friends and relatives or for their evening strolls.
A son came back and arranged for an elderly Anglo Indian lady to look after them. We rarely saw them out as they were mostly confined to the house. On our visits to check on them, they would talk wistfully of Kerala, their childhood and happy times there. Uncle used to regale us so many stories about his childhood, the thrilling adventures that he and his friends embarked on and the naughty childhood pranks. Their ardent wish was to be buried there, next to their parents and siblings. But that was not possible as they had left their village many decades ago. A visit to Kerala was ruled out because they were too frail for the journey. Aunty and Uncle's last wish was always to go back to their village one last time.
Nowadays when I go for my evening walks with the dogs, I can see Uncle hunched in front of the TV or being served dinner. I drop in from time to time with some Pavakkai thoran …uncles favorite and his eyes will light up. He hates the soup, the lady makes. When I say my byes shouting goodnight into his ears, I feel so helpless to see the loneliness in his eyes. When I got back from Kerala last month, he was so excited to hear about the place. I didn’t tell him of the rampant construction and fast vanishing greenery. I told him that the place was the same and his bleary eyes glazed as he imagined the Kerala of his childhood and youth.
For aunt’s funeral, there was a large contingent of relatives from Kerala to bid her final farewell. After the funeral I did what I like most, i.e. walk around the peaceful cemetery. The place is so well kept with so many trees. The atmosphere is peaceful. There is a fair sprinkling of mallu names on the tombstones. People who had left their home and hearth many years ago to find work, respect, dignity and a productive life outside their home state, wistfully hoping to return in their lifetime.
How many such dreams are buried here I wonder.