Popular singer M.G Sreekumar tells us why longs to head home, no matter how busy his schedules may be:
Sailing down the memory lane to Harippad in Alleppey, I can recall that ancient home situated near the Subramanya Swamy Temple. Even today, there are many relatives living in places nearby - Ambalapuzha, Payippad and even Pallippad. It was a lot of fun whenever we, the cousins, got together. Our main hangouts were the Mannarassala Temple and the pool.
My father was a musician. When my mother got a job in Thiruvananthapuram, we shifted to the capital city. Nevertheless, we unfailingly paid visits to our ancestral home every two months. Today, all those good practices have been discontinued. Everyone is busy now. That ancestral home was given to my aunt. Our generation has savored many delights, which are beyond the grasp of this generation.
Life in the capital city
In Thiruvananthapuram, we had stayed in a small rented house near the Thaikadu Music Academy, with a monthly rent of Rs. 75, for a brief period. In those days, my father used to perform the Chavittu Nadakam (a folk play). Their troupe consisted of yesteryear stalwarts like Augustine Joseph (Father of Singer Yesudas), Ochira Velukkutti and Vaikom Vasudevan Nair. The performance began with the hymn ‘pavana mudhura nilaye…’ As there were no microphones in those days, the singer had to sing in his loudest voice so that everyone in the audience could hear. How unbelievably things have changed! Today we have so many technical facilities to assist us.
My mother taught music at the Karamana School. The youngest of the three children, I was born fifteen years after my brother and eighteen years after my sister. By the time I was five years old, they had begun their professional careers. My brother joined AIR and my sister began to teach in the Women’s College. Later, we stayed at another house, known as ‘Pottiyamma’s home.’ In the evenings, I would wait in the verandah for my mother to return after her job at the school. I had to change buses, to get home from the school. That would cost 10 paisa those days. But, my mother opted to walk all the way to save money so that she could buy snacks and sweets for us. With meager income, life was never smooth.
My brother had many friends, mostly consisting of elite personalities from various cultural fields. Among them were politicians, social activists and film personages. I remember singer Yesudas and composer Ravindran frequenting our home.
When my brother got married, we moved into a large new house near Sasthamkovil. Spread across 25 cents of land, it had cost Rs. 82,000 in those days. Sasthamkovil temple, Ammankovil temples and the railway station were near to this house. My mother used to sit in a chair in front of the house, with a betel case placed adjacent to her chair. Thus, she would sit and have a chat with every passerby she knew. Everyday my mother used to wake up at 4 am. Then she would bathe and visit the temple before sitting in the front of the house for her regular chit chats with her acquaintances and friends.
My mother, Kamalakshi Amma, was not just my mother, but also a mother to actors Mohanlal and Jagathi Sreekumar. Whenever they came home, they would grab the betel case and munch the betel with all freedom. After the initial chit chats, with no formalities, they would get into the dining room and ate whatever they liked. That was the kind of freedom these friends of mine enjoyed at my home. Whenever I listen to the song today, ‘chandanam manakkunna poonthottam’ from the film ‘Achuvettante veedu’, memories of this sweet home would surge into my mind.
The Garden Keeper
I have been to the Unites States many a time, mostly as a part of musical programs. I have also been fascinated by many houses there, and have wished to own one. But, the thought of going aboard to own a home had always pulled me back.
I had a home of my own only after my marriage. In Jagathi, there was a plot in the name of my wife Lekha. I bought two more plots, which were behind this plot. A garden occupies a major portion of this plot. A room is built in the garden, which is set apart for official discussions. The walkway in the middle of the garden is embellished on either sides with various kinds of exotic plants and trees. A rivulet, running through the garden, houses a variety of fish. The original concept of a garden has now augmented into a park, in fact. The speakers in the garden are connected to my phone. In my leisure, I come here and play the songs stored in my smartphone. An exotic range of plants like Lakshmi tharu and koovalam are planted in the front yard, which is also adorned by an auspicious thulasi thara. It fills me with positive energy and I am totally free from all negative thoughts. That is why I long to get home, wherever in the world I go.