Sunday, April 8, 2007

Childhood in the only Village I knew...


Thats the view from Payangadi Kunn.

My dad and his siblings. (My dad the male on the right)

The cousins (I feeli like an alien here )

The payangadi station



I was born, bred and buttered in Calicut - Kozhikode "Nagaram". Although I never grew up feeling like a city kid -thanks to umma, my favourite memories were often linked to Payangadi;my dad's homestead. A tiny villagecity nestled in Kannur. Whenever I think of Payangadi, I have the feeling that it fits comfortably in my cupped palms. Its that tiny to me. When I was young, payangadi had scores and scores of cousins my age who knew a lot of amazing stuff. I walked around with a perpetual round eyes answering to the name "Kookki aisha." Boy!! Could i scream?!!! Obstinate to the very bone!
Everytime I got off the train at the Payangadi station, I would invariable meet Allah there. Allah was a character, a tall lanky guy whose nickname was Allah. Payangadi was known for it's nickname fever- Poocha maamu ( Cat Mahmood) Pachcha Paaththibi (Green Fathima) Kooyi Kaisththa (Chicken Kadeeja) Chandhiyillaa Pareeka (Bumless Pareekka- who had the biggest bum I have ever seen!!) and many many more!! Allahu would be there, and dad would be glad to see him, shake hands and reel off to catching up with his life and others news in Payangadi. I would get a pat from Allah and if we were lucky enough to have got down near the tiny shop in the station- a sticky toffee or a vada.
Dad tried to teach me swimming at the Payangadi kulam during our long summer holidays. The green pool of water with a natural inlet and outlet of water, stone steps and a natural dive-board of rock. The first time I went there with Dad, I must have been four years or so. Somehow I remember the day with superhuman clarity. Mom was with me, I was wearing a yellow spaghetti sleeved dress and my cousin Zaheerka was swimming in the pool. It was the first time I was seeing something like a green pool. I stood there transfixed with saucer-eyes and Zaheerka offered to take me for a dip. Man!! What more could I ask for at that point of life? I pulled off my dress and ran to him in my cartoon character underwear. The next thing I know is all the things in my head can be experienced!! Water in my nose, my brains, my eyes, my mouth, my heart and everywhere else. Nobody told me I couldnt breathe inside water!!! I never learned swimming after that. But what I also remember vividly about that dip was a red toothbrush sticking up from the murky grounds of the pool, a tiny fish racing past a huge hole and green slippery steps underwater. That ends my tirade with the Payangadi pool and sooner that I could say "swim", I crossed the age for appearance at the pool.
Payangadi Kunn aka Madayi Para, another vivid memory of mine. Scampering up behind umpteen kids, skinning my knees and falling down but too excited to cry. The ghostly-well up there covered with trees surrounded by stories of being haunted by some lady. Up there I saw another pond for the first time - blue in colour. The sky was reflected in it with all its glory, blue as blue. Right up there you could also see the land stretching beyond you with green fields, the river and the treetops. We played football there and there I learned the thrilling pull of a kite when it soared. Everytime the string tugged at my town-fingers I had gooseflesh all over me. We went picking cashew fruits from all over the hill, returning home with stained faces and stained smiles. We sat there in the evenings and I saw the shadows of clouds as it drifted by. But my most favourite memory remains of the rain I saw from the hills. It was sort of late afternoon, there was anu, muchu, zafeera and me on the hills walking by the school. And then I suddenly hear this roaring sound in the distance and a cool wind. I could see the Payangadi River being misted over and the water breaking out into ripples (goosebumps), followed by the treetops and the fields rippling towards us. I was spellbound at the sight!! I had never see a rain come!! Never. the rest of them pulled me and started running. we were trying to outrun the rain and reach home. It was a run that knew no sight, blindly rushing down giggling and screaming. But before we could even leave the hill behind, the rain touched me on my sweating, hot shoulders. Cold but welcome.
The Sulthan Thod. Sulthan Lagoon. The salt water lagoon at one end of payangadi that was my most favourite spots of all. What made it all the more appealing was that my favourite uncle, Seeruttile Mahmoodka had his house there with his back door opening straight to the lagoon. Cousins taught me how to hunt for crabs with red shoeflower tied on a coconut leaf. The crab would come out of it's hole tailing the shoeflower and there would be Nasirka or Raheemka or Safreeka with a stick to whack the life out of it! Wham!! And we'd have the poor crab in our carry bag. I learned the lazy joy of fishing sitting there for hours under the slanting coconut plams waiting for some dumb fish to take my bait. I watched women seperate baskets of fish into families of fishes sitting under thatched sheds. One of them killing a snake-like creature with one thrash holding its tail; with a very expressionless face. She was my supergirl for a whole week.
Watching yellow bodies slithery snakes in the water-channel behind Zaindeen moothaappas house, from miles away and throwing stones at it from miles apart, listening to Zafeera's stories about the annaachees with wide eyes, making long garlands with the water lilies from the fields in front, catching fishies with towels all evening till you could hardly see your own hand, seeing frogs the size of your thumbnail, the cricket matches in the empty fields, the many mangoes and rose apples and cashewnuts we roasted and ate till we were sick...How I wish life came with a rewind button!
The unforgettable Jainu- nightmare of evry child in Payangadi. My first encounter with him was at Moothamma's place. I was wandering around alone in the 'thodi' busy with my own invented sequences and stories and then I look up and see this man's head over the wall staring at me unblinking. I was freaked out. A harmless man, with psychiatric disturbances who stood and stared at you outside your gate and stole plants off your gardens. I've heard that he takes the plants home and plants it; and the next day he would plant it upside down...

My last memory of Payagadi always stops at its sleepy Railway station with a cardboard green ticket and a small teashop that still has the glass jars with buns and vadas in it. The distant view of Ezhimala and the sickening sound of the approaching train. The station was always surrounded by crores and crores of fireflies which my cousins would trap for me and tie in a handkerchief for me to carry home. They committed suicide before I could take them to my civilization- like true nationalists...


P.S: I stopped loving Payangadi in my adulthood. Payangadi is a child's haven and an adult's hell.



P.S again!! : Due to constant mental pressure I'm forced to admit that those photos belong to Mr. Riyaz Ahmed :).

8 comments:

Muhammad Riyaz said...

You need to acknowledge the pictures!

BTW the actual name for our kunnu is madaippara

fawaz said...

how very true. and thats because the real beauty of payangadi is in its hill, and the well, and the temple ponds and the trees and the forest. but most specially in the hill. where tipu sultan tunnelled. NOT in the houses.

someone once comitted suicide hanging himself on a tree overhanging the well. and there was only one person in the whole village who volunteered to climb the tree and retrieve the mayyath. i cant remember who..... sadly.

സനാതനന്‍ said...

several times i felt one life is too insufficient.we need more lifes to live. atleast the god should seperate life into paragraphs and chapters.living living living living..it should be brocken into segments and threw us into unknown areas
amazing life.

Rafina said...

o wow!! suddenly being proud to be a payangadi(karithi)
n our good ol friend is JAINU n not SAINU ;)

anu kalikal said...

u write well . i am taken to ur lil village thru ur words. excellent recollection . keep writing .

Ashhad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ashhad said...

Btw that harmless man with psychiatric disturbances is called Jainu, not Sainu.

Noor Nazar said...

O wow :) payangadi..nostalgia...wanna get there back sumhw....u have written it beautifully....i am waiting nw for my next vacation to get back to the place again...hhmmm...payangadi zindabad!!! :)
and ya, abt that tree in the well...this is the first time i am hearing the ghost story...i always heard tat its tippu sultan's secret underpass....it seems there is a gate inside the well...and a passage...which takes u to the kannur fort...dono hw far its true...bt thats how i relate to that well...

memories... :)