That special bond

Grandparents are the most loved people by their grandchildren for many reasons. One most important reason is that they come to their grandchildren's rescue whenever the parents try to thrash them for their mischief. Another is that they always buy toys, chocolates, biscuits etc for them. Nostalgic memories linger in my mind when I think of my childhood days, most of which were spent under the tender care of my grandmother, Lourdes Villavarayan, in Manapad, my native village.

Those days, Manapad was one of the richest hamlets in the pearl fishery coast of Tuticorin, as most of the family heads were working abroad particularly in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). Being financially very sound, their families led a luxurious life. Imported cosmetics, cheese, jam and other canned food items were freely available in almost every household. The children had a jolly good time enjoying all these luxuries.

Our house was situated just opposite our grandma's house, where we children spent most of our time. Though not highly educated, she was a very dynamic, systematic lady with a penchant for absolute cleanliness and good housekeeping. Despite having a large house, she kept it spic and span always. The walls of the house were adorned with various portraits and large paintings brought from abroad. There was a grandfather clock and as a ritual, my grandma used to wind its key on a fixed day every week for its continuous running.

In one of the corners of the front hall, there was a large doll and my grandma would dress it up in gowns of different hues stitched by her using her Singer sewing machine. She would change the gown every week. There was also a His Master's Voice gramophone and, as a lover of music, she owned many records. We would watch in awe when the HMV stylus moved on the records and sweet music emanated from the gramophone.

Among the many rooms in the house, one of our most favourites was the Mittai Room (sweets room) for that is where my grandma would keep boxes of chocolates, sweets, biscuits and dry fruits, both imported and local, in a big almirah. Invariably, every evening, we used to gather at her place to enjoy her love-filled hospitality with the chocolates and biscuits she used to bring from the Mittai Room and distribute among us.

Once a month, accompanied by us, grandma would go to Tirunelveli to purchase things for the house and to replenish her stock of sweets, chocolates and other eateries. How can we forget the tasteful biriyani we used to eat at the Sultania Hotel and the legendary Iruttukadai Halwa from the original halwa stall in Tirunelveli?

Observing our grandmother lead a disciplined life filled with unadulterated love taught us lots of lessons. That all those loving memories are still fresh in my mind even after six decades, testifies to the bond of true love that we, as children, shared with our dear grandma.

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