Husqvarna to Kannambadi

I’ve spent long years in this kitchen attic with ripening coconuts, tins of dried homemade papads, a wooden pedestal useful during Ganesh Chaturthi, copper drums and a dismantled cradle.

Every once in a while some of my friends go down to the house. Those who return have envious stories to tell. But the cradle and I wait.  All the babies have grown and flown the nest, so I understand about the cradle. There’s strength and life still coursing my black cast-iron body; but I continue my wait. The familiar aroma of coffee reaches me sometimes; it’s the lowly instant powder. My people have defected to drinking tea. The smell of spiced tea makes me gag.

Till one day she fetched me down and into the sunshine. I overheard her telling her parents that she never passed a coffee shop without thinking of me – her grandmother’s coffee filter. She whispered with reverence, “You’re more than a hundred years old? I wish you could tell me your story.”

I was born in Husqvarna, in a little foundry near a beautiful waterfall in Sweden around the year 1874 along with hundreds of identical siblings. It was in the early 1900s that a few of us journeyed long distances by road, and then over stormy seas, to reach India. Some of us travelled south to Karnataka.

Little did I realise that my first owner would be a young bride, Parvathamma in a village called Kannambadi on the banks of the river Cauvery. She received me as a gift from her elder brother who took my sibling home to his wife.

Kannambadi was submerged when the KRS dam was built over the Cauvery, so I moved everywhere with Parvathamma and her family. I was a coveted and a treasured gift. She told me she had crushed roasted coffee beans with a mortar and pestle before I came, and that had prompted her brother’s thoughtful gesture.

Years later, she gifted me to her eldest daughter-in-law. I was fixed on a small wooden stool in their kitchen and the little children took turns to crush the roasted coffee beans for their mother. Friends and neighbours often dropped by and stayed on to savour a hot cup of filter coffee. Invariably they came to the kitchen to see me – the star attraction.

Parvathamma’s granddaughter is the inquisitive one now. She wants to chart my entire journey – of when and how I travelled the seas. She says she’ll be back to claim me.

Until such time, I resume my wait in the attic with the dismantled cradle. I wish he’d share his life with me. I’m sure his strong teak limbs still retain the memory of gently rocking the babies to sleep. Did he long for the dense jungle and the tree he once belonged to?

I now live not very far from the Cauvery on whose banks I had my first real home. I don’t miss the waterfall in Husqvarna or my siblings. If only the granddaughter would take me home and fix me on a stand. Tough guy that I am, I’ll be around another hundred years to talk to her grandchildren and great grandchildren over cups of strong coffee.
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