A few days back, I visited my ancestral home in a quaint little town in South Karnataka, and it brought back to me the sweet memories which I locked away somewhere deep in my heart…

In those days, during summer vacations, we would spend at least a month in our ancestral home. With the start of vacations we would excitedly pack our bags and get ready for the overnight train journey. The window seat would always be the most coveted position to occupy just for the sheer joy of watching the trees, fields and houses speed by. Sometimes kids playing on grounds would stop their games and wave at us, and we would wave back. The train would carry us through tunnels, over streams big and small. We would have a light dinner of chapati and curry, and then lie down on the berth, as the train would gently rock us to sleep. In the morning we would eagerly look at the names of the stations passing by, and as soon as the train crossed the Netravati river, we knew that our destination had almost reached. We would get down at the station where my uncle would have come to receive us, and then we would take a taxi to our home.

Time always goes faster in vacations than during school days. I haven’t quite been able to figure that out yet. Vacations were spent watching movies on the VCR, playing card games, teasing each other. On some days we would go to the river side. We would wade through the water, sit on the rocks dangling our legs into the water, and tiny little fish would come and nibble away at our feet, tickling us. We would search for stones of different hues and shapes, and add them to our collection if we happened to get one which caught our fancy. On some days we would go on a long walk through the fields, enjoying the cool evening breeze. We would buy ice-candies or soda bottles (those green glass bottles with a marble on top which open with a whoosh) to refresh ourselves.

At night we would go to the Sri Venkataramana Temple, especially during the festival time. It was a treat to watch Bhagwan seated in a palanquin, carried around the temple by devotees accompanied by music. Then Bhagwan would be seated on his swing and gently rocked to and fro, with sweet bhajans filling the air. After Bhagwan was taken to his inner chambers, we would have Prasad and a dark brown “Paanak” to drink. After filling our souls and tummies, we would head back home tired and happy.

The town hasn’t changed much, but the people I once knew have grown older. My uncle now in his nineties, was so happy to see us. He doesn’t go out of the house anymore, his hold on the present is not strong anymore. But his face lights up with a beautiful smile as he recognises me, and blessed me. The temple is still the same, maybe a few renovations here and there, Bhagwaan is still the same… After all He is the only One who remains unchanged, while nothing else remains the same.

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Divya Pai

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