From this post onwards, I will be chronicling the mischiefs that us 5 cousins- Kruthiakka, Sambramakka, Hithyshi, me & Sukruth were up to during our summer holidays at Dodammi’s place in Madikeri. If you guys are interested in knowing about the personalities of my co-conspirators, click here— ‘Summers in Madikeri‘.
Now, there are some rituals that should never be changed, come rain or shine. One such ritual of us cousins every summer was the ANNUAL CLEANING OF THE LOTUS POND, situated in the front yard of the house. This was the event that we looked forward to the most every summer. You ask me why? Well, the 5 of us considered this pond filled with muddy water, Lotus plants & fish as not only a waste of space since we were forbidden from playing there, but we also wanted to turn it into our own version of a swimming pool (though it was just 4 feet deep) which gave us all something to brag about to our friends once the school reopened.Me, feeding the fish with Dodammi*.
Are you wondering as to what’s the big deal in cleaning a pond? Let me tell you guys that this was a mini adventure of sorts, because every year, cleaning the Lotus pond involved meticulous planning that involved 3 stages- GETTING PERMISSION, CLEANING & PRAYING. Confused? Don’t be, let me take you guys through the journey of ‘CLEANING THE LOTUS POND’.
1. GETTING PERMISSION– this was the most crucial step & also the most time consuming one. Usually, about a few weeks into the holidays, me & Sukruth, unable to bear anymore the thought of the pond being enjoyed only by the Lotus plants & the fish, would have a discussion between ourselves to finally kick-start the annual ritual. Sigh, if only getting permission was easy! because there were 3 important people whose permission was required…
A) Kruthiakka– she was the 1st person whom we would approach, because she was crucial to ask permission from the next set of people. She was the easiest one to convince though, as she also wanted to play in that pond. Her only condition was for her brother Sukruth to be on his best behaviour, though no easy feat, he somehow used to manage that in the interest of the greater good. After her permission was taken, we would keep her in front & then approach the next set of people which was…
B) Our mothers– this used to take the longest time since as a general rule mothers oppose anything that their kids suggest & also, since cleaning the pond meant more work for them than for us. But somehow, usually around 5 days of Kruthiakka trying to convince them everyday, with Sambramakka & Hithyshi on their best behaviours, me eating all the vegetables with a happy face & Sukruth staying away from all mischiefs, we would get the permission, but on the condition that it’s allowed ONLY if the next person would agree, who was….
C) Kaveri– you ask who? Well, she used to tend to Dodammi’s gardens & also did various other odd jobs in the house. Why her permission? Because she was the one who used to spearhead the operation ‘Clean the Pond‘, so her agreeing to the whole thing was vital. I remember there being an undercurrent of tension between her & Dodammi always as each hated the other’s guts. She was a huge fan of Kannada cinema & used to recreate famous heroines’ hairstyles by self cutting her hair making Hithu (short for Hithyshi) go green with envy. Convincing her was usually left to Sambramakka & Hithu, with Sukruth especially kept away from her as after him calling her hair ‘Dry Grass’ once (which according to him was praising) we had to work extra hard for her permission.
2. CLEANING– In spite of getting exhausted from running around for this whole permission business, on the D-Day our excitement was always unmatched! Usually this event was scheduled around noon. With Nidhi mama (our Uncle) & Kaveri making plans on how to go about the whole thing & the 5 of us watching their faces back and forth like watching a tennis match, we would kick-start the event. With Dodammi being worried about her Lotus plants & with all of us trying to ensure that not much fish casualties occurred, we would take out all her potted friends first & then using mugs, we would catch the fish to be transferred to a big drum. After emptying out the pond’s dirty water, we would then set to work by scraping off the lichens lining the pond wall. I remember Hithu & Sukruth always disappearing during this task only to reappear miraculously once the pond was cleaned with some vague excuses for their absence.This is us, at work. Don’t go by the picture guys, some are just posing for the camera here.
3. PRAYING– Now, you may be thinking as to how praying came into the whole picture. Well, after the entire pond was cleaned & the fish transferred back to the pond, there were always some fish who showed signs of dying, probably from all that transferring into & out of the pond. That is a huge thing on a kid’s conscience & so every time when we spotted such fish, all 5 of us would gather in the tiny puja room* to pray for their health. Honestly, I think I prayed more on those occasions than during the rest of the year combined. And since the whole thing was started by Sukruth & me, we would continue the prayers even after the others left the room. We would promise God all kinds of good behaviour including giving up our favorite chocolates if he took care of those fish. When I think back now, I remember that those promises were forgotten as soon as we would get the news that the fish were alright! Most of the times, they survived easing our conscience. And from the next day itself, we would have a gala time playing in our very own swimming pool for the rest of the summer.
This is just one of the many adventures that us cousins got into during our summer holidays. Hope you guys had a fun time reading. I’ll be sharing more of such interesting stories in my future posts too in the series ‘Summers in Madikeri‘. Till then, I will leave you guys with Eckhart Tolle’s quote to ponder over, ‘Life is an adventure, it’s not a package tour’.
Dodammi- maternal grandmother
Puja room- prayer room