Bride is all ours now to torment. *wringing hands with glee* We’ll take her home and make her cook at 5 am in the morning in kerosene stove and grab all that gold and stove it away in our lockers. Then my mom will ask her to sweep and swab the house and I will ride my Kinetic on the floors and she will have to start all over again. Of course, all this while she will have to be in her saree. *hehehe* Note to self: Buy kerosene stove and hide servant maid.
My lovely thoughts were interrupted by my brother’s panic attack, “Guess what, I will have to go to the Mallu people’s family home in the village and spend the first night there!!! They being matriarchal and all. Could you and Pi stay with me and see to it that they treat me well?”
‘What?! Do you have to get pregnant too?’
‘What about dowry? Shall I bring my check book just in case they push you in a kerosene stove?’ I was worried.
My dad obviously wasn’t concerned about my brother’s safety. All he could brood about was his family name getting wiped out completely. Any assurance that my brother wasn’t going change his maiden name didn’t seem to comfort him.
Pi was kicking himself for not marrying a Mallu. ‘I could have been inheriting property from both sides! And all that gold too.’
Pi and I stayed over with the brother’s Mallu in-laws in a pretty village called Mannapara. Rolling rice fields, huge ancestral house, lovely temple, great food (couldn’t recognize any of it), sweetest people, great hospitality… time went by quickly and gaps were bridged as if they didn’t even exist.
My mom talking in Tamil with a Mallu accent thinking they understood, was amusing. The weird part was they did understand.
Ammuma (the solid granny who controls everyone and everything in that house..every Mallu family has an Ammuma who is equally strong) wanted to know why I don’t have kids yet.
Bride’s mom asked me if I light the lamps for God everyday. I said ‘No’. Audible gasp from the audience, but she was quick to add,’ But you have a good heart. You did the Katrina relief thing and all. That is great.’
‘Easy for you to say, aunty. You are not my mom or mom-in-law.’
‘You are just like my daughter and I will bug you to light lamps everyday.’
Yikes! This bridging gap thing was uncalled for, seriously!
Pi was treated like God had himself descended in Mannapara. ‘I leve benana jibs.’
And lo, one fella was dispatched in a jiffy and there was 6 kgs of banana chips for him to nibble through the afternoon.
‘Pi cheta, there are a dozen more packets in your room for you to take home.’
‘Wow, Scooty!’ Pi crooned looking a normal Scooty which has become a novelty to us NRIs. The Scooty was handed over to Pi to whiz around in the fields till his heart burst. He was thrilled.
So was I, as we entered the ancestral home. A 400 year old ettukattu tharavaad, complete with furniture of the yore. Ammuma’s cradle, a dresser with tilting mirrors and ornate carvings. Teakwood doors that were 10 inches thick. Dark wooden pillars that could probably fetch thousands. Ladles, brass vessels, lamps, grandpa chair… this house was very grandiose with its 40 rooms. I was glad I got to see something like this so intimately.
I loved this system where they protected and cared for their women. *sigh*
Wait till you come to our house, girly!