Monday, July 6, 2009

reinventing people, names.......

This post was inspired by Lenny's post. Being a dreamer and a loafer, Lenny's post brought to my mind , the picture of this milkmaid who I used to know during my childhood holidays spent in mother's village of Chekannur.

She was Janu amma. She was not just any woman, not was she the milkmaid, in spite of being the only milkmaid in her small domain. she was janu amma; not even palkkari (milkmaid) janu amma. Any other janu amma might need a house name, a husband's name, her job or something like that. Say Janu amma and that was her - the janu amma who brings to our houses at 6 in the morning.

She brings milk and gossips to all our houses early in the morning. She is the visitor to all these houses and not sorprisingly, when the first murder happened in Chekannur, Janu amma was the first witness. She was the first one to find out any thing that happened in any of our houses.

Stories about her milk business were many. People used to wonder aloud how she managed to give milk to atleast twenty houses with two cows. Many people say there was more water than milk in the combination that she used to sell. somebody with a creative vein even said that someone got a fish from janu amma's milk in one of those monsoon months when the water canal was too full of tiny fish. She must have added some water, howelse could she feed a large family with those two cows. In spite of the fish in milk, she was the milkwoman for our village.

She was janu amma. I don't remember talking to her. But I knew she had a name, I remeber her aluminium milk pail, I remember her mundu and majanta(she had a partiality to this particular colour) blouse, I remember her giving milk and talking to Vallyamma in the morning......

She was a part of my childhood. She is a part of my memories of the village called Chekannur where I spent many of my school vacations. (well, some of these are shared memories.. I may not have actually known some of these things myself....for instance I couldnot have known how many cows she she had, most of the stories about Janu amma must also have been told to me by my mother.... but they are there in my memory as I have seen them, heard them, lived them ..... stories my mother told of her days in this place... stories of people who surrounded her life, and of Janu amma among them...) Still, she is Janu amma. she is neither 6 in the morning, nor the money i paid her(she belongs to a period when i had not yet started thinking of things in terms of the money they cost me), she is not even the white creamy milk she sold (she defenitely belongs to a period by which i had developed a distaste for milk)... She is just Janu amma.