(U)dayashree Patti, The Grand Old Woman of Aravankolom

(U)dayashree Patti, The Grand Old Woman of Aravankolom

Aravankolom or Narnommalporom proved to be a quaint little village with a beautiful river in tow. Varun had already been there and seen the place, so he knew something about it. During the times of the British Raj, there had been severe caste discrimination in this quiet little village. But over time there had been several inter-caste marriages and caste bigotry was in its last throes. Aravankolom now boasted a highly integrated society. All in all, the village was a haven of peace.

There was a small inn in the village where Gayatri and Varun booked rooms for themselves. They were soon ready and had a cup of Coffee and some snacks in a roadside stall. After munching on the tasty Vazhakkai bajjis and samosas they set about locating Udayashree patti. After some inquiries, they were able to find the small house with a thatched roof where she lived.

Varun knocked on the front door of the house. After a few minutes, a wizened old woman holding a walking stick opened the door. She peered at them short-sightedly. Varun wondered if it would be of any use talking to such an old woman. How could they trust her memory? But before they could back out with some excuse, the woman said pleasantly, ‘What can I do for you, little ones?’

Gayatri smiled and said, ‘We want to see a person by the name of Udayashree patti.’

The old woman smiled and said, ‘I am Udayashree patti. What can I do for you?’

Gayatri said, ‘Actually we want some information on the history of this village, and everyone told us that you are the oldest person living here. We plan to write a book on the history of Tamil Nadu’s villages. We wondered if you could tell us something of interest about Narnommalporom. Of course, we will mention your name only if you give us permission to do so.’

The woman said, ‘Come inside. I am an old woman and I like talking about the olden times. The only thing is you will have to make yourselves comfortable on the floor of the veranda. I live alone and have only one rocking chair. But do come inside.’

Varun was hesitant but Gayatri entered the house, and Varun followed suit. The old woman said, ‘By the way little ones, what about eating something before we start talking? There are some Idlis in the cooker and I have also made some Sambar and Chutney, not to mention the Coffee you will find in the flask. Not too much, but I don’t mind sharing what little I have. Do you mind getting it from the kitchen, young lady? My arthritis is killing me.’

Varun and Gayatri had already eaten snacks but felt it might offend the old woman if they refused. So, Gayatri got up and entered the clean and neat kitchen. She found the idlis in the cooker and Chutney and Sambar in separate vessels. There was also a flask full of Coffee and some plates. Soon, Gayatri, had everything laid out neatly on the floor of the Veranda and they began talking…

                                                                                             To Be Continued...

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