Sunday, February 27, 2005

On the banks of Kallai

Kozhikode, Kerala

We were in kozhikode a few days back to attend a friend’s marriage. After a full sadya, the natural inclination was to hibernate but then we decided that we can postpone that to the next "working day" and do something better there. We had watched the film “achuvinte amma” the previous day, and had enjoyed it thoroughly, so we did not want to destroy its feel by watching another movie. We had been to REC a few days ack and so that too was ruled out. Then my friend Cinish suggested “Kallai” and it struck a chord with some of us, for the film song “Kallai kadavathe, kattonnum mindeela” was fresh in memory and its lyrics and the scenes were indeed inviting.

We did not know that it was so near kozhikode, so when the auto stopped near the kallai bridge with no kadavu in sight, we grew suspicious. “Chetta, kadavinte aduthu pokumo” (can we go near the bank)?, we asked the auto driver, Seeing him turn back with questioning eyes, I clarified “Kallai kadavathey ennoru pattilley .. aa kadavu” (the bank described in the film song). We had begun to sense the beginning of yet another memorable trip, taking spirits soaring. “Athetha pattu - pazhayathano? (is that an old song?)”. “Alla, permumazha kaalathile paatta” (No, it is from new movie perumazhakaalam). Then Cinish added, as if to cement our case for a kadavu there. “oru pazhaya pattumundu - pathinaalaam ravudhichathu maanatho, kallai kadavatho” (there is also an old song about this bank) As the auto driver joined our smiling party,he pointed us to a path from where we can reach the river and we got down.

Kallai is, or once was, famous for its timber industry. We could see many locked gates with timber related boards and the river bank always was beyond them. We spotted a group of men, seemingly engaged in their usual round of chat, and asked them a way to get to the river. After their round of questioning, which seemed to assert their status as the grand karanavars of kallai, they showed us an open gate through which we reached the river. It was marshy land near the river but there were many logs to hop around. The river flowed calmly reminding of some old soft lullaby. Near the opposite bank there were many birds – mainly egrets white and beautiful - and we could see them in the water mirror as well. Then there were the kites, diving majestically into the water and rising up with their catches. And the colourful kingfisher, perched still on a trunk, thinking or dreaming, gracious either way undisturbed by the camera clicks. Harmony indeed!

We had still not found the kadavu we came for. Nor the vallam. Nor the breeze. Nor the people. So after having a refreshing kattan kaappi, we asked the hotel guy about the nearest kadavu. He informed that the nearest was chakkum kadavu) was after the brdige. Yet another auto driver was asked about a kadavu. Seeing the camera, he asked whether we were journalists or serial makers. We said we were neither and we came that we had come after hearing of kallai, which seemed to impress him and he started enthusiastically describing about the place. As we reached the small kadavu, we could feel the cool breeze, see the yellow sun, and hear a loud parody song. The vallam, coming from the opposite bank, stopped some distance away from us - there was not enough water to row it close – and people got out of it and started walking to the bank. This upset the old woman beside us, who was impatiently waiting for the vanji, and she started shouting “njammalengine abide varum makkaley” (how will i reach the boat). One of the men held her hand and helped her walk to the vanji upon which her face blossomed with relief and her words became full of pleasantness. We joined them and had a nice short trip listening to the river, and the oar, and the talk in the boat. .

The sky was already in its brilliant evening gown but the sun was not fully in sight. So we decided to go to the beach, proclaiming “you never get tired of sunset and the sea”. It was an enjoyable walk along the river bank, carefully avoiding the marsh, with this unique feeling that the river was almost like one of us, also moving with the singular intention of reaching the sea. Of course, it was only her that knew the route! A few meters down, she giggled as if to say “you can come with me further if you like” but, in spite of her beauty, we had to decline because we saw our path along the bank end! We took the diversion into a mud road and continued our walk. We could feel the sea now, in the breeze, in the trees, in the people, in their words. We asked a woman, standing commandingly in front of her house, the way to the beach, to which she gave a striking reply “nalla kadaline kurichu maathram ezhuthikko, ee tsunamiyokkey manushanmar undakkunnatha” (write only about the good sea, tsunamis are made by man) before showing us the way.

As we climbed over the rocks and then down to the beach, we could see our river merging into the sea and vanishing, both from sight and from our thoughts. The Arabian sea was in its usual grandeur, and the sunset clear and splendid bringing into our mind memories of so many other beaches where we have seen the two together before. And each time we wonder at the expanse of the sea and the land beyond, enjoy the waves lashing against the beach wondering whether they will reach as far as our footwear, feel the mud slipping away beneath our feet, collect the salt on our pants, feel amazed at that unexpected high wave which soaked our shirts, and bask in the glory of the sunset. There are very few repetitions in life that we love - this would definitely be at among the top of the list!

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Anonymous mannj said...

theres one repetition that i too love deepu. every time i come to ur blog, i read this kallai story again.
something about it...

12:03 PM  

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