We Climbed The Everest Of Our Village

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I was waiting for my bus. As the destination is written in Malayalam, I was unable to read it.

Could you kindly tell me which bus goes to Kavalapara? I asked a young lady who looked educated from her dress and demeanour.

Oh! Most gladly; in fact, I am going to that place.

I feel much relieved. I am going there to study old records written in Palm leaves. I work for Allahabad University.

During our journey, she told me all about herself, as to a bosom friend. She is working in a bank and is going home to see her aged parents who have to manage themselves. Of course there is a maid to help them. She asked me: why don’t you stay with me? My house is near Kavalapara. It is a far flung village without any lodging available. Otherwise you may put up at Ottapalam.

So I accepted her offer.

We had to walk along narrow path until it opened into a panorama of green scenery, with rice fields and a river running across the fields. We walked along narrow embankments, made to prevent water from flowing away into the river. I had to be careful.

We entered a plot with plenty of coconut trees, areca nut trees, and, all sorts of trees which I had never seen before. It was a treat to the eyes!

She ushered me to her room. She said she would sleep with her parents.

I kept my small bag on the stool by the bed and relaxed. Presently she brought hot tea and biscuits. She said: you can take bath in the pond. I will tell others not to come near the pond. You can be quite comfortable. I have a friend belonging to Kavalapara family. We will meet her. She can locate the old palm leaves books.

Before the British rule, Kavalapara was something like a “principality”. The Nair had the power to sentence to death; a beam supported on two pillars can still be seen, from which the hangman’s noose is pitiably hanging, in the spacious ground of the old “palace”, remnants of which instill a sense of melancholy on the beholder. All members of the family are now scattered. Only Sushma, her friend is staying there now. All this was told me by my friend and hostess, Kumari, on our way to the Kavalapara palace.

Sushma is a very young girl, somewhat dark complexioned, with bright, truculent eyes. She promptly took us to the attic.

There were all sorts of documents, in Malayalam, English and of course, palm leaf granths in Samskrutham. The girls dusted them all and brought them downstairs.

I asked Kumari: may I take them all to Sushma’s room where I am staying?

By all means, she shouted. She knew English well and was very helpful in tabulating the documents. I liked her. I said jokingly: If I were young, I could have married you.

She shouted: I am ready to marry you now.

How old are you?

Forty.

Are you not married?

No.

I have never seen the North. Will you take me there?

Oh! Sure.

Next week, Sushma came. I told her that I have sent a report to the University about the treasure I got at Kavalapara and asked for assistance by way of grant for my research. I proposed that I shall appoint Kumari as my assistant, hearing which she jumped with joy.

One Sunday we all went to see around. After some half an hour walking, we came near to a hill.

Shall we climb it? I asked.

Sushma was wary. Kumari started walking towards it. Let us see; if not feasible, we will abandon the idea, I told Sushma.

The top of the hill was covered with thorny shrubs. We went round and some opening came to light. But it was a huge rock, like the back of an elephant. The girls managed to climb it and began describing the surrounding country side. I desperately tried, without success.

Then they gave me their dupattas. With one end in my hands, and the other ends with them, they pulled hard and I too came on top.

Wah! This is our EVEREST! We all shouted.

We had a jolly time and my thesis was ready. One copy I forwarded to Calicut University. I was given special post in the university, for studying documents obtained from Samoothiri’s palace.

One day Kumari said: Sushma has a love affair. Because of caste difference, her parents are against it. After you came to stay with her, her man quarreled with her. He even doubts her chastity.

I felt very sorry about it. And guilty too. She used to tell me everything. Why did she conceal this?

I accepted my assignment in Calicut University and shifted to Kozhikode. Kumari came with me as my assistant.

Afterwards we heard the sad news of her death in mysterious circumstances.

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Source by Kk Subramanian