You don’t miss what you don’t have!

It was close to 11:00 PM. Almost bedtime even over the weekend, I nodded to K and between him and his cousin another K they went downstairs to the basement to haul the futon mattress upstairs. Panting from lugging the rather heavy mattress, they arranged it right in the middle of our living room. Pillows and sheets soon made its way and another hour later, all of us had repaired to our respective sleeping arrangements. Tossing and turning I could not sleep.

My mind was back in an era when guests meant an extra ‘pai’ and a dirty pillow or sometimes one of the family forgoing theirs. When sheets were shared more as a protection against mosquito bites rather than as a shield against the cold. When it was not uncommon at 8:00 AM to have a row of children still curled up on the thin mats on the floor sleeping through all the noise and din from around.

Growing up as a child, I never once thought of whether our home was spacious or if we had enough bed linen for the never-ending stream of visitors and people staying with us unannounced. Or when we stayed over at a friend or cousin’s place, not much was thought of borrowing towels or even soap. Whatever we had, we made do. All that remains of those times are the good memories. Of sitting in circles gobbling down vatral kuzhambu sadham and thair sadham doled out by amma or an aunt. Of sitting outside on the thinnai batting mosquitoes as we exchanged hot gossip from our respective circles. Of exchanging notes on the number of salwars we had accumulated since we last saw each other. The intangibles.

Yet, today as a hostess, I seem to be unduly bothered by the lack of space or adequate bed linen. It shames me if I feel my pillow covers needs a wash. I keep a stash of toilet supplies specifically for guests. I am flustered when I have guests I am not prepared for. I even wonder if we should think of moving to a bigger space.

Amid all these superficial thoughts, echoes of the times past remind me of what is important. That what counts is whether I spend enough time talking and catching up rather than running around to ensure the perfect living arrangements. That what I serve is more important than what it is served on. That a hug and warm handshake is more important than what I pack in a return gift. That memories made during these visits is what I will remember years from now.

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7 thoughts on “You don’t miss what you don’t have!

  1. Very true. And so well written too, I’m coming to expect it of u now.
    This post reminded me of summer hols as a young girl, what an existence that was! eating mangoes, palaapazham, nungu, velripinju and bakshanam. Playing daayakattai, pallankuzhi, sozhi and cards with cousins, their neighbours and friends… Hiring cycles for an hour in the mornings, followed by trips to the temple, and in the evenings the river where we “swam”.

  2. How true…whenever I have guests over at my place I am quite nervous. I go through the same feelings like you have mentioned. Somehwhere inside me I don’t want to be a bad hostess.

  3. So true Laksh. The ‘paais’ in our village home when we went to visit paati were hardly the point of interest. The chit-chat with cousins was the key. The fading giggles while sleep tugged at one’s eyelids, till the heat doused you to sleep. Aaha!

  4. Those were the times when Television hadn’t invaded our lives and computers hadn’t trapped us in its web…When i read your post and think of those times this song by my favorite singer Jagjith singh comes to mind “woh kagaz ki kashti woh baarish ka paani”.Thanks for taking me down memory lane.

  5. Hi Laksh….

    I have been reading your blog for a while now, ever since you became a mother. And I have loved every word, though my appreciation has been a silent one so far. After reading this post, I just felt like writing to you and saying hello…its a simple pleasure to traverse your thoughts when you write…

    Loved what you said at the end…that a hug and a handshake is more important than that return gift. I have cringed many a times too when my home has not been upto par when a friend unexpectedly came home, but that informality is what the charm is all about.

    It would do us all well to go back to those simpler roots and not get carried away by the modern trappings. Thanks for the inspiration!

    -T!

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