First things first. After visiting all the temples as planned we had our breakfast and returned to our room for a catnap; but I was making a mental picture of that place where we lived long long ago. Without any rhyme or reason my mind fished out the slogan, â€œMahatma Gandhi ki jai, Pandit Nehru ki jaiâ€¦..India will be freeâ€¦â€¦â€ Then that song, â€œlenthakkuru kondoruâ€¦..â€ and I remembered that intoxicated man who used to sing that song every evening as he moved along that narrow path with erratic stepsâ€¦..everything was clearly visible to my mindâ€™s eye. Soon I returned to the real world so that I wonâ€™t go to that place with any pre-conceived notion.
A couple of kilometers away from the city the place I was longing to see had changed a lot. All those coconut trees have disappeared and there were ultra modern houses and broad roads. My initial enthusiasm seemed to vanish because nothing resembling the picture I have in my mind of that place could be seen. But the auto driver assured that in a couple of minutes all my doubts will vanish. â€œJust look at that poolâ€, he said and there it was! The very same pool where we (my mom and siblings) used to have our bath every morning. The banyan tree at the corner of the pool was very much there.
Then I wasted no time, I stood under the banyan tree for a while, â€œdirty fellows, this big soap will last only for two or three daysâ€, our mom used to tell us while removing the dirt from our feet. The home where we lived was only a few yards from that pool. My excitement knew no bounds when I located that compound. Of course, the old house has disappeared and there was a big one. But to my joy that well was very much there, though it appeared very small now. In those days, it looked so big and fearsome, may be because of the nightmarish experience I had had one evening when no elders were at home.
I moved slowly along the narrow path close to that house. It was familiar to us in those days, and believe me or not, though it is long ago since we left the place the narrow path has not changed a bit. â€œMahatma Gandhi ki jaiâ€â€¦.. or that familiar song, â€œlenthakkuru kondoruâ€¦..â€ kept ringing in my ear when I moved along that narrow path.
Suddenly I was reminded of the auto rickshaw driver who was waiting for me near the pool. And I returned to that place with a sense of fulfillment.