The little boy didn't know then that his maiden car journey was about to change his life forever.
On Feb 06, 1982, the Ambassador car loaded with a few more than its capacity started from a narrow street of then Madras city taking along the clueless boy wherever he is headed to. Until then the five-year-old knew only his one-room rental tenanted, opposite a big temple with heavy traffic and noise all around. He liked the way his life was, his daily routines were to visit the temple with any one of his uncles or grandfather in the mornings, attend a small nursery school and spend the evenings at the beach or Railway station which were nearby along with his father.
The car drove him away from this routine forever. After a long drive, the car halted in front of a hotel "Sri Krishna Bhavan", though it was late in the evening and the place was new, the hotel got stamped in the boy's memory. After a quick dinner, the journey was to resume, as everyone in the car was not so accustomed to a car journey, the on-boarding process was a little messy. In the chaos, the boy hurt his little fingers when someone tried to close a door. Luckily there were no injuries, but the pain was immense.
By the time the boy's pain could subside the car reached its destination. On an empty road, the car stopped in front of a small metal gate opening up to a big house with blue coloured double doors. It was dark as shutdowns were common in those parts back then too. Light from a Lantern leads the boy to his place of joy and sorrow for years to come.
The house was massive compared to his tenantment. It was built on a 5 feet high pedestal. Four steps lead to the blue doors. When entered through the doors, there was a long passage with rooms on both sides. The course was of the length of a cricket pitch or more. It was so long that in the later days the boy used to switch on three lights on his way to the toilet at the end of the passage and had to run between switching them off to escape the dark at night.
Until then, the boy believed a house is a place to live securely within concrete walls of brick and cement. But this house revealed the true meaning, a real treasure a home can be. The big house had a garden double its size, around its periphery were, 14 coconut trees encompassing Guava, Mango, Jackfruit, Papaya, Custard apple, Plantain, Pomogranite, yam and many other trees and shrubs along with a vast well. The house itself was an Ecosystem on its own. The boy grew up playing in this garden, along with his cousins and friends. Also, a pet dog and poultry joined the count later.
The boy's big joint family moved to this house to accommodate all his uncles and their respective wives and children to come. Everything in the place happened collectively, starting from morning tea to night's glass of milk. Every one's share was fixed, and the dietary menus were predetermined, any diversion would disturb the logistical setup. The workshop which made all this happen was the house's kitchen, the most happening area in the entire home, and the boy's most loved space in the house. It was busy for most of the day, with any two women of the house engaged. A vast 15x15 feet room with every kind of utensils and every household stuff stored in all-sized containers which he never tried to count.
The other most loved spot was the right corner of the steps at the rear exit doors, where he always liked to sit, whether it was to brush his teeth, sip his tea, play with the pet, involve in a family chat or witness a family quarrel "the spot" he marked for him. (His spot).
Sundays were always fun; the day mostly began in front of the TV Box and ended the same way. Guests for Lunch on Sunday was a common phenomenon. Meat or fish in fixed quantity was always sufficient. The Guests were of all kinds intellectuals, rogues, kind, rude, Godmen, conmen, politicians, smugglers, lawyers and many, but the house treated them all with the same warmth and the boy grew up observing every visitor from his perspective.
Every Sunday, the family gathered to watch Doordarshan evening movies no matter whatever the movie be, old or new, good or bad, everyone in their fixed spots. The boy among them, growing without knowing the word "Privacy" as even at times of melancholy there was someone to either tease or console, but never left alone.
The house played its role in the growth of the boy, both physically and mentally. With time he and his thoughts grew. Everything around changed, but the house remained challenging the changes. The boy had seen many family conflicts happen, but the house stood firm holding everyone in its bond. But when the boy grew to be a man and had to participate in one of the conflicts, the house decided to end the show. The place that stood firm in many challenges started experiencing tremors. It finally gave in to accept the changes. The house, which was the bond that united the family became the bone of contention to the boy's dismay.
The boy now a grown man, who once could not think away from the house now wished to get away from it, as it became the sorrow of the family. The place which was the identity of the family for 30 years lost its own identity and stood to be sold to the best bidder who could afford.
The house was too big for families of changing times, so it was rechristened as an old building with no much value, occupying a real estate property worth more than a crore. Where huge funds are involved, sentiments take back seat. As and when a deal was set, the house was demolished to rubbles of timber and bricks. Each member of the family got their fair share, Fortune at the cost of their bond. The new owner, a businessman, will never realise that the piece of land he acquired was a "Paradise Lost".
The boy who could not budge the lose, came to terms when "Sri Krishna Bhavan", where he first dined on the way to his house was also razed to rubbles. A paradise lost for some other soul, who had all love and aspirations bonded to the structure, now giving way for another spot that would inspire, maybe some little boy to come.
I just thought the other way round.
About the Author
Hareesh Aravindakshan is a banker, ex-servicemen in Indian Air Force and a curious blogger. He loves to defy the norms and gets easily bored with stereotypes. He writes at hareeshiaf.blogspot.com and can be contacted at email@example.com.