Back in the seventies,for us children,school vacation time meant a trip to the grand parents. From across all parts of the country, family members would converge at the ancestral home, in the heart of the tiny village of Anadhikritapuram. Grandfather had ten children, anticipating the space required to house his entire tribe, he had built a huge house full of rooms. With three cooks and small army of domestic help, he ensured that none of his children ever had to work while they were in his house. So vacation time was entirely devoted to gossip, sleep and play depending on your age and gender.
Unfortunately in Kerala, it rained round the year, so we children were forced to spend some of our vacation time indoors. We made the most of this by using the rooms on the top floor as our play ground. No one used these rooms which were empty except for some old empty wooden boxes. Away from the prying eyes of the elders, during the sunlight hours these rooms were our playgrounds. Before the sun set,we would run down the stairs,for there were no electrical lighting in these rooms. At night-time forget us children,even some of the elders did not dare walk up the stairs to these rooms.
Those days village life in Kerala, followed the rituals of the local temple, Anadhikritapuram was no different. There was a small temple which was the hub of life in our village. Every day in the morning, people would bathe in the temple pond and then with a morning glimpse of the deity, start their day. One morning, opening up the temple doors the head priest got the shock of his life, the main idol was missing. His shouts brought in all the early morning worshipers, some one went and informed the local police. One of my uncles who worshiped at the temple every morning brought the news and this woke up the whole house.
Anyway the thief was identified very quickly, apparently he had purchased a new crowbar to pry out the statue and in his haste to leave with the idol had left it in at the scene of the crime. There was only one hardware shop in the village and it did not take long for the police to figure out who had perpetrated the crime. Some persuasive techniques from the
police and he revealed where he had hidden the idol. Of all the places in the village, he had apparently hidden it in one of the boxes on our upper floor. Apparently he knew that the rooms were not used as he has once worked as one of our field hands.
Within minutes the whole place was abuzz with police jeeps and vans and even some media people, eager to get a juicy story out of all this. The statue was unearthed and with great fanfare carried out. After some elaborate rituals,the idols were replaced in the temple and life came back to normal.As for the empty rooms they attained some sort of importance, for even if by accident they had served as the resting place of the lord himself, they were converted into a shrine and needless to say now became out of bound for us kids.
Over the years, the house has undergone many renovations and improvements, but the rooms on the upper floor still are out-of-bounds for normal use. To this day incense sticks and oil lamps are burnt there in the evening, to remember what happened years back when the Gods came visiting.
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