‘Why isn’t the snake coming?’ I asked. ‘Snakes never come out when human beings are watching, child. The black Krishnasarpam will glide out as soon as we go away,’ said Meenakshi Edathi.
I began to feel sleepy after lunch. Malathikutty came back with us to Nalapat. Barely an hour after we got home, we heard the sound of the gale. The wind tore through the coconut palms in the southern compound with a frightening roar. The dry leaves that had collected around the pond swirled upwards belligerently. Branches shook. The seat of the swing that hung from the ilanji tree fell down.
‘I wonder whether it’s a cyclone . . . The sound of it scares me,’ said Ammamma. She asked all of us to sit down in the middle room upstairs and gave us metal dice to play with. Since the light had grown dim, she lit a brass lamp as well. Muthassi called out from the thekkini, the southern room, downstairs, ‘Have you closed all the small windows, Kochu?’ ‘I’ ll close them, Amme; I’ll close all of them,’ answered Ammamma. We suddenly heard the sound of the rain from the south-west, like the roar of a vast crowd of people. Using all her force, Ammamma slammed the windows shut. Raindrops glimmered on her face.
Back in the snake temple, Kamala asked why the snake did not come out of the hill. Meenakshi Edathi replied that snakes do not come out when people were around. She added that the black snake named Krishnasarpam would move out smoothly as soon as they left the place.
Snakes do not come out of the snake hill if humans are around!
After lunch, Kamala began to feel sleepy. Malathikutty also went back to Nalapat with Kamala and her brother Ettan. After about an hour, they heard the sound of strong winds. It came through the coconut palms from the compound in the south side of the house, with a huge trembling noise. There was a small pond around which dry leaves had gathered; it flew upwards in a twisting position aggressively. The branches shook in the strong wind. There was a swing that hung from the ilanji tree and the seat fell down.
The swing from the ilanji tree had fallen due to the storm!
Ammamma refers to mother's mother in Malayalam. Ammamma wondered if it was a cyclone brewing up and she exclaimed that the sounds scared her. She asked all the kids to sit in the middle room in the top floor and gave them a metal dice to play with. She had lit brass lamps as it was getting darker due to the rains. Muthassi (father's mother) called from the room in the south, called as thekkini in Malayalam to ask Kochu whether she had closed all the small windows. Ammamma replied that she would close all the windows. There was a massive sound like screams of a crowd of people, which was actually the sound of the lashing rains, from the south-west direction. Ammamma closed the windows forcefully, using all her strength. The raindrops splashed on her face from outside and it shined on her skin.
Meanings of difficult words:
|glide||move with a smooth, quiet continuous motion|
|gale||a very strong wind|
|swirled||moved in a twisting or spiralling pattern|
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2019). Term-3 English Standard-6. A Childhood in Malabar: A Memoir - Kamala Das (pp 84-89). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.