Saturday, April 14, 2007


Exposed dangling breasts, weather beaten wizened face, liquid eyes, a mouthful of irregular stained teeth make up the five minus feet tall apparition called Innooli. She spoke in a grating voice and cackled when you least expected. This character came to our lives more by destiny than purpose. Innooli came with the ancestral abode, where my parents decided to spend our life after Dad’s retirement. She was the compound sweeper. In her younger days she was a raving beauty, who stole Koran the farmhand’s heart, soul and peace. She was one of those rural women who had great character, pioneering spirit untouched by erudition and so called sophistication. Down to earth, she raised her family almost single-handedly. Her husband bid adieu much too early for her comfort. When destiny shattered her life, she stood resolutely braving the storm of loneliness of destitution.

What I remember of Innoli is her excessive passion to keep the courtyard and the walkway in the front spick and span. She would forgo her breakfast, sacrifice it to her grandchildren and continue with tenacity the chore of uprooting each recalcitrant weed. She would incessant lecture to the trees, ants, passers by walking up the road in front that ran to the local market. Her stories would always be circuitous touching on all aspects of the rural tales: exploits of her kin, Koran and others, her short marriage, her maleficent neighbours, her obnoxious daughter in law, Ayyappunni- her mad offspring and so goes the never ending list. She would scold the insects stealing bites at her ankles, she would fume at the thorns of bougainvillea, she would brandish the broom at the gawking street kids trying to throw stones at the mangoes. By the ceremony of cleaning the courtyard finally comes to the end, she would not only have worked herself up, but worked up a good appetite too. She would then plod down to the kitchen where she would slurp up hot kanji (sort of a rice soup) with a spoon made of ripe jack leaf.

She produced in people mixed feelings. As young children, we used to find her fascinating, amazing and exciting. Innooli to the elderly was amusing, irritating and ridiculous as her mood changed, while to the youth she was an anachronism among modernity. To her in-laws who had become more fashionable, she was an embarrassment; to her daughter-in-law- a domineering pest.

With her death, an era was cremated with its vibrancy and vivacity.

1 comment:

Ramya Menon said...

i think that was one peice where nostalgia sure came in gallons.... it took me bck to those days when the only worry in the world was our games and play... she was a character and one who will always stay with us!!