A house in my dreams

In Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth, the farmer Wang Lung’s love for the earth, his fields, lies at the core of everything that he does. Whenever I read it, and I read it often, I think about Kerala. My family in Kerala were once land owners. Through my childhood, we used to visit those lands, my days spent in my mother’s tharavad’s naalkettu house in Palakkad district. It exists no more. It was pulled down by short-sighted clan members, sold teak pillar by teak pillar.

Ekkanath House

Today I would stop that from happening. But it doesn’t prevent me from visiting the house in my dreams, its sturdy pillars standing guard over generations; the steep, wooden staircase leading to the many rooms above, where lives were lived, marriages consummated, babies soothed, and the elderly nursed. I pass the kitchen from where emanate the rich, ghee laden smells of a purely vegetarian cuisine. The ancient stone floor of the bathroom still plays host to croaking frogs, and in my adult imagination I scoff at my childhood fears.


I pause by the open courtyard, where a slanting ray of the sun lights up a corner or the slamming sheets of rain makes everything so deliciously romantic, with the body odour of Mother Earth, so uniquely hers, rising up to my quivering nostrils. I inhale it and am besieged by a fresh longing…

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