Monday, December 13, 2010
"Maa kole dekhithili janha,
Rupa deha tara chhana chhana
Hata thaari dakichhi mu kete,
Manepade aaji pila dina."
Whenever I listen to this song, I get nostalgic. though its not the full song. I never knew who the writer is,but i always loved this stanza. It always reminds me of my early childhood days, part of which I spent in a village with my grand parents. My foundation of Odia language was laid there. My grand father was a very knowledgeable man and had a great affection for his mother tongue. I learned to write and read Odia with him. He was my first teacher. Every week he went on his bicycle (which was a treasured thing in those days) to shop groceries in the near by market,what we called as" hata". Along with all the groceries,fruits,seasonal vegetables,and occasional treats for me, he always got a surprise for me. And it was a book. Outside the verandah of our house, I used to wait eagerly for him and for that invaluable gift . At a very early age and under his supervision, I started reading odia. To pique my interest in Odia,he took out a subscription of "Jahnamamu" for me. At that time "janha mamu" was a treasure box for all the kids. With some beautiful stories,it was an addiction to me. Nowdays, sadly, "Jahnamamu" has disappeared from many Odia households . I still remember that there was a competion going on about the "kings of our mythology." My grandafather filled every issue's forms on my name,and entered them in the competition. Though i am never lucky in winning lotteries, but it was still an excitement to wait for results.
In summer days straw houses are a relief from the heat. I remember our village was surrounded by numerous trees. After october 29th 1999, the day of the super cyclone ,its not the same anymore. During the summer holidays, we children from the "sahi" used to enjoy it to the fullest. It was a rule for us to take a nap in the day time after lunch. But we escaped from their sides after all the elders took the siesta. And near the river bank,in the shadows of big trees was our playground. Making the tamarind water,and drinking it with the jackfruit leaves was the main pastime. Somebody will climb on the tree to get the ripe tamarinds ,someone will get the salt by tiptoeing to his /her house,green chilies from the fields near the riverbank and green scallion or the garlic scape, and the recipe for a delicious tamarind water is ready. I remembered sitting with my friends eating raw sour mangoes with salt and chili powder,our lips burning and our tongues smacking because of the tartness. I remember stealing mangoes from my neighbor's tree and biting into them with the relish of a theft well done.
My Aja knew many sanskrit slokas. Before leaving the bed early in the morning, he used to chant all the mantras and offer prayers to different gods. I also learned all those slokas from him. He taught me to love nature. We have huge orchards of mangoes and coconuts and also have ponds for fishing. I accompanied him several times with the coconut picker to get coconuts. Occasionally the picker will cut a few raw coconuts to drink them in the orchard. My grandma preserved coconuts in our home in a very strange manner. Keeping a wooden pole in between,she made a tree like structure with the coconuts,and as per requirement,she used those coconuts. I have seen my grandfather making coconut oil in our home to oil our hair.While making the coconut oil,he used to take out some creamy like substances as residue,and I savored it heartily. We had bee hives in our house. And we got pure honey from those hives. I have seen him cultivating honey too.He was a big supporter of kitchen garden. and whenever he came to our place in the town,he implemented the same thing for my maa. He sew the fishing net by hand.and I accompanied him several times for the fishing in the river "Hansua". Eating the freshest catch has a different taste and feeling. Every festival,and every ritual was different in his time. He took all the pain to organize everything. With large lands to look after and patients to give medicine,he was a voracious reader too.
I lost my Aja,whom i called as "bhai"few years back (i dont know,why we called him "bhai") but after he is gone,I miss him.As the eldest grand child ,I spent the maximum quality time with him other then my siblings and cousins.He taught me so many things,which I will never get to study anywhere. He was a good homeopath, farmer, loving caring person. He was the "babu"to his people. He was the first chairperson to the village school. I never realized how much he meant to me,till he was gone.Whenever i think of odia language, i think about him because he is the reason behind all my keenness in the language.