The Pickle Jar- Part 1

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I was ten back then when I found out about the pickle Jar. Was it a boon or a curse?

It was a long way back home, dwarfed by the immense power of destiny, covered in a muddied ragged shirt. I contemplate on my journey so far. The other side of the hill was longing for my return. Two hills away is where I come from, my small village and my home, a small hut built of mud and sand, the one that often shook when the monsoon winds blew. A spare key to the latch was hidden in the creeks of the southern wall over which wild flowers grew. The light hardly made its rays persistent in that dark space inside. It was always foggy and damp but warm. Warm because in it was love. My mother’s love who would often be found preparing a meal or cleaning that tiny space off the dust.

Draped in a cotton saree and her nose ring shining through the darkness, we would find serenity in her arms. I was ten back then. When her light brown eyes brimmed of tears when she heard me run.

“I want to go” I had thundered that night. Father was still in his deepest sleep, that was when his snores would deafen our ears.

“You are just a kid, you do not the know the world outside” She smiled at first, thinking it as a childhood rant.

I knew that smile. That was never going to change. It would be foolish of me to convince her. Naren uncle had promised a better life, better home, better food in the city. I would return when I would have got everything. Being the oldest amongst the four children. I decided to run.

Back then I thought I was brave and determined.

It was a five-day journey on foot and 2 days on the vehicle. Bandra, the city, a home awaiting my arrival. So that night, I packed my bags with curried potatoes, dry rotis and left over ragi ball that was preserved for the next day’s morning ragi malt. Now for that treasure that promised me riches. I steadily walked through the small place, hopping around the sleepy legs of my siblings. My mother turned in her sleep while my father’s snore had reached the cow in the backyard. everything was in place. I climbed the walls of the hut, it was a bricky and an easy climb, at the end of the rack above was an earthen pot, the big one that would fill water for the house for two days. I clenched my teeth and drew it near me. It was heavy and bottom of which creak-traced the muddied rack above.

There you go, I heaved as I pulled it closer to me. tied a thread around the nook and slowly left it down to the floor. Is it really the pickle, a tiny voice in my mind screamed. My parents would always talk about the pickle they stored on the rack above. The one that promised us a better life. We never tasted the pickle though.

It was the money. I knew it for father always used to climb up with pennies jingling in his pocket and climbed down empty except making a grinning face of how tasty the pickle was.

And one night I heard them talk about the money saved in the pickle jar and how it would help us all in the future. The future where I would be married off and my sisters to a well settled family. The importance of it faded as the vision of the tall buildings and luxury cars raced in my eyes. I wanted them all.

Thirteen years later, I am coming back home, to where I belong. To the place that taught me to smile and to trust. The place that was showered with blessings of a smile that guarded our family. It has been a long time indeed.

To be continued…



The Little Abode Of Happiness

The evening was perfect, the month of autumn was pleasant with strong winds and ruffling trees. There are number of noisy crunchy leaves powdering to brown dust under my feet as I approached my Grandma’s little abode. It is a small thatched hut, a few red bricks and muddy shade brings in the authenticity of the place this has to hold. I gingerly walked towards the entrance that has no door, people in this small ever sleeping village seem to believe in a divine presence guarding their village.

Nothing to knock on, I stepped inside the little house that was filled with authentic aroma of the south. I smiled as the childhood days unfolded, every summer vacation, my brother and I used to frequent grandma’s the most. A well in the backyard that extended into a dark abyss below was intriguing for the kids of our curious mind.

“No, kids, not the well” Every single time grandma used to hurry by our sides to pick us up from the barricade that we used to jump onto.

“Why? Grandma. I will help you pull the water from the well” My younger brother always used his charms with his words to which her furrowed eyebrows would relax and a smile would pop on her wrinkled face.


I was reminded of that very face right now. It has been ten years since I last saw her, moving to US on my job didn’t allow me to get to her. I thought of taking her back to my father’s place and leave her there, she surely would have aged.

As I entered the redox floor hit my feet with a sense of nostalgia. The childhood days when my brother and I carried into the small hut and given the sandige and appalas, these were the kind of evening snacks that she used to prepare for our visit. The fresh fruits right from the trees, friends who never wore slippers here and the huts never had doors for us to knock, we used to just barge in any house in the neighbourhood! Those were the times of real happiness fallen at our feet.

“Ajji! Ajji” I called her with my grown up voice, hoping that she would recognise my voice.

“Did you remember your way back to me kandha” She came from the only room in the hut, she hadn’t changed much, her saree was neatly draped, her silver hairs braided, and her charming smile brought stars in her eyes.

“How can I ever forget this place Ajji, get ready, let’s leave this place, come with me to abroad or stay with dad!” I insisted on her decision as soon as I saw her!

“And who will stay here kandha” She wiped her forehead and walked hurriedly into the kitchen, she took an earthen pot to prepare dinner.

“Who needs to stay here, you barely get things here, there in the city, you get everything, all the comforts and more than that you kids and grandkids are going to be there” I tried to uphold the place I come from.

“Was your journey good? Here drink this water” She pushed an earthen tumbler towards me.

“The water is so sweet, I was famished from the journey!” I smiled as the fresh sweet water flowed down my throat.

“It is fresh coconut water from my trees!”She smiled as she opened a box filled with dried up sandige and appalas.and started the fire to fry the crunchy snacks.

“Ajji, look at you, the stove only makes your health worsen” I hugged her as I helped her with few more chips of wood.

“Kandha, then is it ok if you breathe the smoke from the city vehicles, is your lungs healthy enough!” She pinched my cheeks lovingly

“You are getting back at me ajji, please do come!”

“Listen kandha, people here know from decades, I have my own friend circle, I have my memories associated with your grandpa here, I love looking after the lands and cows, I even sell the appalams and sandige to your city stalls. Mallesh helps me with the transportation as the stalls are on his way to school. I earn money with my skills and I know the herbal medicines growing in these parts of the hill and hence people come to me to get healed, isn’t that a beautiful social service when I find them all healed because of me. I play and I hummed the songs into the night. The lord is kind enough to have me healthy! More than anything else or the luxuries, I would like to stay here, where my heart belongs” She drank some water from the earthen pot to quench her thirst after making her point.

“Ajji…I understand but you are not young!” I try to disorient her.

“It is this place where real happiness falls at my feet” She smiled noting the end of the conversation and caressed my head.

I couldn’t agree more with her. SHe was right, if I were to take her away, then I would snatch her off her freedom and luxury. it was great to find her healthy and so motivated at such an age. I was inspired to live a better life.

I gave my brother and parents a call to spend the vacation with ajji this time, my tickets for the holiday trip got cancelled! I did the right thing!

I found myself transporting through time, into my childhood, back when I was a little girl. In this little abode of happiness.