Vishu is the Malayalee new year and the first thing you see on this day are signs of prosperity- food grains, fruits, money, gold, new clothes and of course Lord Krishna.
Here’s a scene from Vishu at home this year.
My grandmother was full of stories. My cousins and I were the avid audience. Sometimes , I wish I had recorded all those stories. A few years ago, we were all sitting around post lunch, talking of our plans for Vishu and my cousin said that as long as he didn’t have to see any blue bums on Vishu, he figured it would go well. He was of course talking about a scene from the movie Meesha Madhavan where the villain is pranked by a bunch of guys who paint their bums blue and bend over so that it is the first sight that he would see on Vishu. 😀
My grandmother laughed and said that that was nothing new. She proceeded to tell us about the random crazy pranks that she’d seen or heard of over the years from her aunts and Achama(my great grandmom and her mom in law). We belong to the malayalee brahmin community and in the olden days we would offer shelter for the night to other brahmins who were travelling. This was way back in the 1920-30s. Some were distant relatives, some were friends and some were strangers. There was this one guy who was some distant relative of Achama’s and someone whom she considered the visitor from hell. He was constantly on her case, pranking and annoying her and every time she got mad, it would just encourage him to figure something that would annoy her more. The night before Vishu, she prepared the kani ( all these signs of prosperity) . The next morning she was supposed to wake up first, light the lamp and then wake up all the other members of the family.
At this point in the story , my grandmom would double up with laughter while her grinning audience would wait for her to carry on with her telling.
So Achama woke up the next morning, kept her eyes closed and walked to where the kani was kept. She opened her eyes and instead of seeing all these auspicious signs of prosperity, she saw this idiot relative of hers, bent over, with a bright red hibiscus flower in his butt hole!!!
Half the house was woken up that Vishu hearing Achama giving this guy hell and it became public knowledge that the gentle brahmin lady had a vocabulary that would put a sailor to shame.
And way before Dilip & Hari Sree Ashokan ruined Jagathy Sreekumar’s Vishu in Meeshan Madhavan in 2002 , sometime in the 1930’s some idiot relative got to hear every bad word my Achama knew . And every Vishu after I see the Kani, I think of my grandmom and this story and start my year with a big smile. It’s strange how an incident that happened over 80 years ago still brings so much of laughter and has become a part of the family folklore.
True stories from another time are sometimes real hard to believe. And sometimes, stranger than fiction.
Writing as a part of team Blue Lagoon.