Monday, November 2, 2009

The Kolam outside our house

It was yet silent and dark outside. A pleasant wind was blowing as I opened the main door of our house. The entire building was in deep slumber. I cautiously swept the area in front of our door and squat on the floor wondering what design to draw today. I was doing this after very long and was immediately reminded of my younger days at home as a little one when my sister and I fought about whose turn it was to draw the kolam.

Amma would wake up early in the morning and get the area outside the house ready before waking us up. The one whose turn it was that day, would get out of bed with a lot of effort and start drawing with the fine powder even while murmuring curses under the breath. We always wondered why it was so necessary to do this ritual every morning and always tried convincing Amma that this could be postponed to another time of the day. But Amma was always stubborn. She said that this was the way of welcoming Lakshmi Devi to the house without which, she would turn away angrily.

As years went by Amma stopped pestering us in the mornings. In the afternoons though, after our maid cleaned the kitchen, I would draw small kolams in front of the puja area. The days Patti would come home, just for impression sake, I would draw bigger kolams concentrating more on the steadiness of the lines. “Shilpa draws the Shangu(conch) very well”, Patti would say and I would feel elated. Slowly I developed a liking for this and soon had my own book of kolams which I would fill during lazy afternoons, copying from the Mangayar Malar magazine that Amma subscribed to, or sometimes from Amma’s old kolam book.

As days passed, studies, tuitions, exams took more priority and this hobby was kind of forgotten. It was only once in a year, the night prior to Diwali, when my sis and I would sit out there for hours drawing large and intricate designs, and filling it strenuously with the choicest colours. This too was lost in the tide of time as I moved out for my PG first and job later.

Yesterday, when I was out on my weekly shopping spree, I stumbled on a vendor who had the white powder heaped in front of him. Flooded with memories from my childhood, I bought some of it hoping to carry on the tradition in my home.

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