July 07, 2013
Another family meet just got over. For two days there were about 45 people in Joychen’s house.
I dropped Anusha at the Tellecherry railway station. Meanwhile Vince, Jason, Moly, Namita and their families left for Bangalore. Celine and Beana too left with their families to their places of stay.
The big house is again empty and I am sad that the beautiful time had to come to an end.
I texted a message to Anusha, telling her I have reached home and “the house is fully empty.” She texted back, “Fully empty. Such a poignant oxymoron.” Yes, I agree, the house cannot be ‘fully’ empty.
Later at night, while having dinner with Joychen and Kathrikutty, conversation veered to the nice time we all had together and then the silence all of a sudden. Joychen said it was like a huge storm followed by the calm. Kathrikutty had another take. She said that she does not feel lonely living in the house even after everyone has left and only she and Joychen remained. I sat up and was all ears as she said these words.
I joined the dots – from my careless expression of , ‘house fully empty’ to Anusha finding poignancy in those words to Kathrikutty feeling perfectly comfortable in a deserted house.
My brother Joychen’s house was conceived in love for the entire family to congregate, was a labour of love as it was constructed with a caring eye for details and remains a confluence of love in action as family members inhabit its spaces whenever they meet together.
The beautiful house is designed for big gatherings and sharing and even when no one is there, it seems the big empty spaces are still alive with memories of the beautiful times.
It is like the feelings of togetherness experienced by two lovers separated by geographical distances and space. Within themselves they feel the presences more than the absences. Each of them is enshrined in the heart of the other, cocooned by love’s presence. There is the quiet knowing that distances cannot remove or reduce the feelings of closeness and togetherness.
So, even when people leave and the house becomes deserted, love remains. And the house remains alive with the energy of love.
July 10, 2013
I am back in Chennai. I think of the great time I had there on Saturday and Sunday, the 6th and 7th of July.
Hari Lal came to pick us up at Iritty. Anu and I had to rush off after a tea at Mary kutty chechy’s house to ‘the house’ as Joychen was waiting to receive us there. After another cup of tea, we went to join all the others at the cemetery as they were commemorating Chachan’s death anniversary – advanced by a day.
Chachan, my ever serious, mostly unsmiling father was the one who insisted on every close family member to join together on special occasions. On such occasions he would share drinks with everyone, including the girls. We could catch him smiling on those rare times, shedding his mask of serious aloofness. Of course, Ammachi, my mother was the glue that held everything and everyone together.
Last week, almost all the near and dear ones were there at the family function. Joemon and family from Glasgow, Reshma and family from London, in whose honour we all congregated, the in-laws, the husbands of nieces, wives of nephews, babies, kids, oldies…. It was fun.
Breakfasts are usually at Marykutty chechy’s house and they are always elaborate and special. This time we had kappa biryani. We did so many things after that. One was having drinks with Vince and the in-laws before lunch. After lunch we – the very young, middle-aged ones and the older – played frisbee and then football with enthusiasm for about two hours. After bath, we were back to the drinking table with Vince and company. At night, the girls put up a variety entertainment programme. I am glad that I did not have to nudge them into organizing it.
Sunday Morning onwards people started leaving. Before that we had the long photography session. Group photos, individual photos, family photos separately……..captured in cameras by Sujith, Ajay, Jaishree and me. Photos have always been excellent means for us to preserve our memories. I am so glad that I have played a good part in preserving the history of our family through photos for more than three decades.
The tradition of our family meets is here to stay. And there will be always people speaking about Mannanal family’s great days of celebrations, food, drinks, fun and games.