“The sunny days had begun and summer had just kicked in. I lived in a village named Madhurandhakam, a Taluk situated about 85 km from Chennai. It was a beautiful place and everything around us was green unlike what I see today. My mother, my father, my brother and my sister were my universe. There has not been one day when we weren’t together. It was the Tamizh Puthandu (Tamil New Year) and my father brought us these beautiful silk gowns from the market they had displayed just a day back. In fact, I got to choose my own dress and color.
I was so happy and excited to get dressed along with my sister and brother. My father was a farmer. He did not have much money but our fields were never dry. They were always flourishing and we never starved. We plucked some fresh vegetables which grew in our backyard and also some spices while we soaked our long hair in oil. We gave the basket to our mother and went to bathe one by one.
Fresh as a newly blossomed flower, we stood in front of the Holy Deity and prayed for a prosperous year in our new clothes. As soon as we finished our prayers, we went to eat the huge spread which we do not get to eat every day. From Dal, Sambar, Rasam and rice to Appalams and sweets, nearly 10 varieties of food were present on our banana leaf. Initially, we used to hog and as we started slowing down, our parents used to force us to finish it and never waste food. After eating the scrumptious meal, we used to take an hour nap in our small hut which was the beautiful home.
In the evening, we used to comb our hair, wear jewelry and run to the temple. After a good prayer, we would visit the market for some groundnut barfi and cotton candy. They were as cheap as 5 paise for all the three of us. After a tiring yet a brilliant day, we would go back to sleep all geared up for a fresh year.
I wasn’t able to continue my education post 8th grade but I never considered it a loss. I still read regional newspapers every morning and am up to date on current affairs. I think that is exactly where literacy and education make a difference. I believe I am educated because even though in my era where my cast was considered the highest, my parents have never restricted me to never talk the so-called lower castes. I had friends coming home for all the festivities. We went to temples, churches and mosques and things were just fine.
You see I was pushed inside a well and taught to survive and now people call it swimming. That’s how we survived. Amidst the process of surviving, why do we make others’ life so complicated? We are all surviving and we are all working hard to stay happy. Why stay happy by demeaning others? Our only trick to staying happy then was – stay happy and make others happy. Believe me, it actually worked. A simple life, common people, loads of trees and pets; most of all, always being happy was my childhood.