Friday, May 11, 2012

Walking along the Eucalyptus Trail

Image courtesy  thewanderers.travel   
I spent a major part of my childhood in Ooty, nestled in the cradle of the Nilgiri Hills of southern India. A little village called Lovedale, on the outskirts of the town, where Appa and Amma taught at a residential school. I have very fond memories of my childhood in Lovedale. The lush greenery all around, the beauty of the blue hills in the background, the ancient chapel on the school grounds, camp trips in the pristine woods, and the lovely eucalyptus trail which became a shortcut from our house on the campus to my primary school. And whenever I think of the eucalyptus trail, the forest floor perpetually covered with a dense carpet of fallen leaves, and carefully filtering in sunlight through the thick foliage, I think of Kannamma Akka. She must have been much older than Amma, and I took to calling her akka, just like how Amma would address her. Kannamma Akka would help to look after me, since my parents were busy with their respective classes.

As a result, Kannamma Akka would accompany me on the eucalyptus trail, from home to school. Every afternoon, she would come to school, carrying my neatly packed lunch, and would ensure that I ate it all, even going to the extend of feeding me, when I threw tantrums. And she would be there, when I went back home. She was my companion, when I arranged all the soft toys on the carpet and pretended to teach them all. As I scolded each and every toy for not doing their homework, imitating Agnes Miss who shouted at others in the class (not me because I used to be a chamathu then :P), she would watch the scene amusedly.

As a child, one of my greatest worries was not having long hair. I almost always had a mushroom haircut, which I detested since it wasn't 'girly' enough. So I would take one of Amma's long black duppattas and ask Akka to drape it around my head and weave it around like a plait. Each time this happened, I would throw back my 'plait' and prance around, believing myself to be some incredibly beautiful heroine. And each time, there was a twinkle in her eye. She became a confidante, and there wasn't anything about me that Kannamma Akka didn't know. 

I remember only one incident when I fought with her. I was upset about something that happened at school (cannot remember what exactly ticked me off). I was quite angry about it, and both Appa and Amma were busy in their classes. So, there was nobody whom I could vent my spleen on, and added to that, I was really hungry. Hunger, together with anger, is a really bad combination. So I asked Akka if there was anything to eat, and when she replied in the negative, I stomped to the kitchen, took a glass of water and spilled some sugar into it. Watching the entire tantrum unfold, Akka said, 'Indha ponnuku headweight romba jaasthi. Iru appa vandhaa, solren'. I had no clue what headweight meant, but her threat of telling Appa about the tantrum was enough to silence me. Later, when I asked Amma what headweight meant, she laughed and explained it to me, but was curious to know how I came across the phrase, and then I was forced to tell her the whole story. It was a bit like digging my own grave, since good old Akka had of course not 'betrayed' me.


My mind wanders back to the eucalyptus trail- me, holding Akka's hand, and chattering away about school,the heady scent of eucalyptus in the air, and the crunchy noise of fallen leaves as we walked by... I have come a long way from then, and Kannamma Akka has played an important role in my childhood. Today, I have no idea where she is or what she is doing. I haven't had an opportunity to meet her after we left Lovedale, which was nearly twelve years ago. However, I do know that I shall remember her with gratitude and shall always have respect and love for her.


Updated Amma sent me this picture of me and Kannamma Akka, taken years ago. Akka looks a bit angry- we never could get her to smile for photos. And there I am, acting goofy as usual :D

4 comments:

  1. I've been on the Eucalyptus trail once when I had to visit a cousin who was studying in Lovedale - the place is serenity personified.

    Early school stories are the most vivid one's aren't they?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whoa, you've been to Lovedale? Amazing place, indeed :)
      I can remember my old school days, so clearly- almost as if it was only yesterday. Thank you for coming by this one :)

      Delete
  2. This brings back the memories of good old Lovedale days and the wonderful people who took great care of you and nurtured you. Remember Krishna uncle and Kannaian uncle - how they taught you to ride the bicycle!!! How Kannamma akka would defend you when you did some mischief that warrants a real shouting from us. Whenever we go to Lovedale we make it a point to meet all of them. They also have fond memories of you and enquired about your well-being. Hope we can go there once and meet with all of them, God willing!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How will I forget Krishna uncle and Kannaian uncle, maaa? :) I wonder how they all are doing. It would be so nice to go back, illaya?

      Delete

Friday, May 11, 2012

Walking along the Eucalyptus Trail

Image courtesy  thewanderers.travel   
I spent a major part of my childhood in Ooty, nestled in the cradle of the Nilgiri Hills of southern India. A little village called Lovedale, on the outskirts of the town, where Appa and Amma taught at a residential school. I have very fond memories of my childhood in Lovedale. The lush greenery all around, the beauty of the blue hills in the background, the ancient chapel on the school grounds, camp trips in the pristine woods, and the lovely eucalyptus trail which became a shortcut from our house on the campus to my primary school. And whenever I think of the eucalyptus trail, the forest floor perpetually covered with a dense carpet of fallen leaves, and carefully filtering in sunlight through the thick foliage, I think of Kannamma Akka. She must have been much older than Amma, and I took to calling her akka, just like how Amma would address her. Kannamma Akka would help to look after me, since my parents were busy with their respective classes.

As a result, Kannamma Akka would accompany me on the eucalyptus trail, from home to school. Every afternoon, she would come to school, carrying my neatly packed lunch, and would ensure that I ate it all, even going to the extend of feeding me, when I threw tantrums. And she would be there, when I went back home. She was my companion, when I arranged all the soft toys on the carpet and pretended to teach them all. As I scolded each and every toy for not doing their homework, imitating Agnes Miss who shouted at others in the class (not me because I used to be a chamathu then :P), she would watch the scene amusedly.

As a child, one of my greatest worries was not having long hair. I almost always had a mushroom haircut, which I detested since it wasn't 'girly' enough. So I would take one of Amma's long black duppattas and ask Akka to drape it around my head and weave it around like a plait. Each time this happened, I would throw back my 'plait' and prance around, believing myself to be some incredibly beautiful heroine. And each time, there was a twinkle in her eye. She became a confidante, and there wasn't anything about me that Kannamma Akka didn't know. 

I remember only one incident when I fought with her. I was upset about something that happened at school (cannot remember what exactly ticked me off). I was quite angry about it, and both Appa and Amma were busy in their classes. So, there was nobody whom I could vent my spleen on, and added to that, I was really hungry. Hunger, together with anger, is a really bad combination. So I asked Akka if there was anything to eat, and when she replied in the negative, I stomped to the kitchen, took a glass of water and spilled some sugar into it. Watching the entire tantrum unfold, Akka said, 'Indha ponnuku headweight romba jaasthi. Iru appa vandhaa, solren'. I had no clue what headweight meant, but her threat of telling Appa about the tantrum was enough to silence me. Later, when I asked Amma what headweight meant, she laughed and explained it to me, but was curious to know how I came across the phrase, and then I was forced to tell her the whole story. It was a bit like digging my own grave, since good old Akka had of course not 'betrayed' me.


My mind wanders back to the eucalyptus trail- me, holding Akka's hand, and chattering away about school,the heady scent of eucalyptus in the air, and the crunchy noise of fallen leaves as we walked by... I have come a long way from then, and Kannamma Akka has played an important role in my childhood. Today, I have no idea where she is or what she is doing. I haven't had an opportunity to meet her after we left Lovedale, which was nearly twelve years ago. However, I do know that I shall remember her with gratitude and shall always have respect and love for her.


Updated Amma sent me this picture of me and Kannamma Akka, taken years ago. Akka looks a bit angry- we never could get her to smile for photos. And there I am, acting goofy as usual :D

4 comments:

  1. I've been on the Eucalyptus trail once when I had to visit a cousin who was studying in Lovedale - the place is serenity personified.

    Early school stories are the most vivid one's aren't they?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whoa, you've been to Lovedale? Amazing place, indeed :)
      I can remember my old school days, so clearly- almost as if it was only yesterday. Thank you for coming by this one :)

      Delete
  2. This brings back the memories of good old Lovedale days and the wonderful people who took great care of you and nurtured you. Remember Krishna uncle and Kannaian uncle - how they taught you to ride the bicycle!!! How Kannamma akka would defend you when you did some mischief that warrants a real shouting from us. Whenever we go to Lovedale we make it a point to meet all of them. They also have fond memories of you and enquired about your well-being. Hope we can go there once and meet with all of them, God willing!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How will I forget Krishna uncle and Kannaian uncle, maaa? :) I wonder how they all are doing. It would be so nice to go back, illaya?

      Delete