I remember my early days in TAMBARAM; Railway quarters. This palatial house even now occupies my dream. Such a huge splendid house, with the 'Vasudeva kudumbakam'. It accommodated so many people.
We could encounter a variety of people, snakes, plants events etc.
As per my memory, the first neighbour was a husband wife and their mad daughter, who on full moon times would howl in late evening and without any second thought we peeped into their house by jumping on the ‘தண்ணி தொட்டிஸ் [water tanks ]‘[Thinking of this now I am ashamed] but it was a great fun those days.
Initially we were going to Christ King elementary school; just on the other sides of the playground, Boys after class 5, were shifted to Corley high school. Those days we had only one teacher taking up all subjects. Jayalakshmi, Chellam happened to be my aunts’ classmates. Jaya living at kadaperi, Chellam, one street behind 'anjaneyar Koil 'Street, a lot of mango trees at her house. Because of their friendship we had the privilege of taking part in school functions like dance and drama.
During my brother’s பூணல் [upanayanam] new clothes were purchased; we had our Annual day function also at the same time. I was taking part in a dance prog, jaya teacher asked me to get a nice ‘பாவாடை தாவணி for it. Unlike the present day gen. parents, kids, I did not have the guts to ask at home. So conveniently I took leave. It was the day of special function; jaya teacher had sent a girl to find out the reason for my Un- announced non-negotiable leave. Exactly I don’ remember the reason but the next day I did, I was the girl for edubidi. [Running errands]
Come ‘margazhi masam’, - Dec 15 th to Jan13 th, we needed poosani poo [white or yellow pumpkin] for 'gobi 'tradition where a flower is kept in a small cone made out of cowdung, on the rangoli designed in front of the house। All we used to do was to get up early rush to the jopad patti [gudisai] row of huts close to Durga stall to steal the ‘பூ [ flower ] and ran without looking back। Now I repent we never had marathons those days, had it been there, we would have set record for P.T. Ushas to beat us!
When we were all together when most of the first generation were together esp. elders we would have some free time to play.
All work and no play make jack a dull boy, Could we be far behind! You name and we had played the game. Gilly danda, goli, cricket, LONDON, statue, I spy,' மல்லிபு மல்லிபு
- மெல்ல வந்து கில்லிபோ' ; categories will you please, names of flowers, exchanging labels of match boxes for one ‘goli’ அடிக்கரடு' 'ஆடு' புலி', 'கொலை' கொல்லையம்' முந்திரிகை etc . [Tamil names all the games we played]. ,
Just a mention of appa’s name, [all P.T. Ushas boys inclusive] we won’t even see who was left behind, very keen in saving our skin, and would rush home. My grand mother aka Patti would be the first person to react and comment: என்ன' கங்கு' வரான'?!’[Is gangu coming’ shortened name of my father] One thing we should appreciate Patti here she co-operated well with us.
The reason house full of many kids. What all they needed was some respite from the 'kaachu kattal '[from our shrieks and shouts]. She would keep quiet. We, as good kids, would resume our studies. Some times we had missed this running. We helped the left one, who invariably boys, who would be playing away from the vicinity. By opening the back yard door and signalling had saved our kith and kin. “Today it is you, tomorrow who knows,” this is our policy!
Hardly had we got the chance to wear or have anything new, the reason so many members in the age difference 1, 2 years, so it was always, passing the parcel whether it was books/notebooks on rotation or dresses.
My first in hierarchy uncle taught us the art of bargaining, my grandmother – art of delegation of work and fulfilling her desires, and keeping everyone under her control.
While seeing people off at the TBM Rly Stn, the entire family would assemble, and free of platform ticket. Is it possible now?
I was born in Bangalore, but brought up in madras in a joint family, with my periappa’s family and paternal grand mother. All I remember about my early childhood is living together, eating together, and sharing the chores and other things like dresses, snacks, and jokes together. This has given a platform to get into the habit of adjustment, patience and taking things as they are. All the girls in one school, the boys in an Eng.medium schools, but we never had any complex we were all one. We waited for festivals for the food treat, and the festive mood, I do not remember anytime grumbling or brooding over the burden on our shoulders. Each one’s worked is specified and sometime or other we adjusted here and there.
Actually joint family trains you well and you can face any type of adjustments in future, you won’t find more members a pain in the neck. A lot of give and take takes place, you are moulded into a good human being with the exposure to ups and downs.