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There were horse carts running between the two towns to carry people who were traveling. I would sit on a corner bench outside my grandfather’s stall and watch them run, while his customers smoked their tobacco and had discussions. Some of the carts were well decorated with flowers, artificial ornaments and colorful cloth decorations to attract more customers. These carts carried the passengers in a roof covered wagon. A rolled grass pack and a covered plastic container with water to feed the horse were kept under the wagon in a sack hanging to the cart. While the horse carts were used for the commercial transportation, oxcarts were used by small families when they planned to travel along with their family members. It was relatively slow compared to the rest of the transportation modes. However, people opted to travel by buses than any of these carts, as those were the days when motor vehicles and public transportation had widely expanded their connectivity to the remote villages.
South Indian weddings were traditionally huge events which were planned after the harvest festival until the end of summer. I can remember those wedding ceremonies lasting for three days. As my grandfather told me, in the past years those ceremonies lasted for five days,depending on the social and financial status of the family. However, in modern times, financial factors caused people to shorten these events to one day and eventually to a few hours. Of course, there are various rituals that take place well in advance, but the main wedding ceremony was shortened. It appeared people were also happy with the shortened procedure as it saved a lot of time, effort and money. The family and the people who are involved in organizing the wedding ceremony go through a lot of stress. I assume they identified a few alternatives where people could relax while they work. One among those was playing stereo with loud speakers. While the rituals take place, the organizers would play contemporary hit albums and people would carry their works with great energy. In those years, one such popular album was a Telugu school mimicry, by Mr. Gangadhara Satyanarayana. Everyone enjoyed this short twenty-minute episode. Even now, it tickles me if I listen to this audio track. After all, laughter is the best medicine. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases their happiness. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you, even after the laughter subsides. As we spent our summer holidays in our native place, we had to return to our village, Koruvada, where my mother was deputed and I did my primary schooling.
There is nothing left to say about women’s interest in jewelry and accessories, especially when there are important occasions. My mother, too, had an authentic golden jewelry set given by our grandparents during her wedding, which included a necklace, hairpin, ear set, and rings, just to name a few. However, she never wore them after my father passed away. She would wear only a wristwatch while she went to work. It is a HMT branded, analog watch that runs without a battery. She treated this watch as precious, since it was gifted to her by my father. The watch had become an important accessory for her to follow her schedules while she was at work. I remember this watch was serviced a couple of times just to make sure it was operational. Apart from that, there were no repairs done to this watch. She still wears it now even after 35 years.
As I mentioned in my earlier writing, I was succeeded in bringing our elder sister along with us. She was pretty, innocent minded, and just looked like a copy to my mother, which made me more associated with her. Her name is Varalakshmi. She cleared her tenth grade with a great difficulty. She was never good at studies, though she excelled at tailoring and knitting. It was taught to her during her school as an extra course to her curriculum. In her first few weeks stay with us, she decorated the walls and tables with her handcrafts. The youngest among my three elder sisters was Sandhya. She was also very happy, as she got a company. The two of them eventually created more troubles to my mother with their unintentional foolish acts.
It all started with the wrist watch. My eldest sister Varalakshmi remained home while we three went out during the day. She struggled to adjust to the isolation in the new place. She was happy and had more freedom visiting my maternal uncle and aunt’s families in our native place on day-to-day basis. Here in Koruvada, we had to stick to our home and were also bound to obey my mother’s social status. She had argued and made my mother to buy a wall clock to help everyone to be at par with their activities. My mother bought one unwillingly, as she was always cautious at what she spent. In following week, Varalakshmi came with another idea of visiting a temple after couple of weeks in a nearby town, followed by watching a newly released movie, Shiva, which was a trendsetter and had a huge influence on the youth. She would argue with my mother about this, until my mother agreed to her wish.
The day has come. Our distressed mother suggested both Varalakshmi and Sandhya go together. Additionally. she guided them how to follow the travel route and a lot of instructions not to interact with strangers. She also commended them to return to home as soon as they came out of the theater. She gave her wrist watch to Varalakshmi as it would be helpful to them. Had they followed my mother’s advice, they would have returned home by lunch time. Both of them neatly dressed and carried their puja kits. My mother and I remained home because it was a holiday. We both waited for our sisters to return to home so that we could all have our lunch together. However, there was no sign of their return after a couple of more hours after their expected return time. My mother would check the wall clock impatiently and worried as the minute-hand passed from one number to next. As time passed, the anxiety levels increased for my mother and I could tell that she was almost broken. The sun was ready to set and the village women were in a hurry to finish their chores before the farmers returned to their homes. By seeing this, my mother decided to walk up to the bus stand with the help of our neighbor, as they might return at any moment and she didn’t want them to walk in the dark. Who wouldn’t be worried of their children, especially when they are teenagers. Some might argue freedom makes one strong, but at the same time, self-responsibility is equally important.
After a couple of more hours (around 7PM), everyone returned home. My mother was furious, yet she remained calm like a sensible person. She served both a hot meal and waited patiently to hear about their adventure. Our elder sister knew that she had lost her bet and remained quiet, while Sandhya volunteered the narration. In short, they had to spend more time in the queue at the temple because it was an auspicious day. By the time they came out of the temple, the movie had started. Hence, they wanted to wait until the next show began. Their planned activities were successfully completed but they left the schedule behind by a few hours and made my mother completely worried. Once they were done with their meal, my mother took both of them inside the kitchen and locked the door behind her for next few minutes. All that I could hear were silent screams and hidden cries between the serious verbal warnings from my mother.
We all make mistakes and learn lessons from them. That day, after everyday, both of my sisters learnt to be responsible. More importantly, they learnt to follow the time schedule. However, my mother would get terrified with those memories when this movie played on television. She often discussed how carelessly they behaved on that day. On the other hand, she wonders what it would have been like if there were cellular phones in those days; of course, it would have been a different story.
Next Episode: Gang Of Girls