ingau's blog

Punaar Puli - a memoir

“It’s a Punaar Puli”, he would say. A fragile man in his late 70s, Achachan was always sure of everything. “No, it’s a Kodam Puli Acha " my mother would tell him. “I planted it here, wouldn’t I know?” We all were at our ancestral home to spend the summer holidays. This was the third time in five days since we came here that the exact same conversation was playing out. But my grandfather dismissed it each time with his usual sense of calm.

He always had this serene demeanour, my grandfather. Was it from old age or was he always like that? I don’t know. An abundance of cloudy white hair rested on top of his long face. He also had the thickest pair of glasses I’ve ever seen on anyone.

A man of method, Achachan would wake up early in the morning. He would brush his teeth in a gentle manner, oil his whole body and do some sort of exercise before taking a long hot water bath. Like most people of his generation, he too was deeply rooted in nature. He spent his days taking care of his plants. Sometimes he could even been seen talking to them – chit chatting with a Peepal tree or sharing the sorrow of an amiable Jackfruit tree weighed down by its fruits.

He seldom went out. While not in our backyard he would sit on an armchair and smoke.He’d sit there, not doing anything in particular. Reminiscing bygone years, perhaps. Sometimes an acquaintance would come by and they’d indulge in conversation. Achachan never allowed anyone to part without gifting them a bunch of fresh mangoes or some other produce from our backyard.

He somehow used to receive many diaries from various people and places. He’d give them out too. It was his way of keeping contact with people he cared for. In fact many of my earliest journaling attempts manifested in Achachan’s diaries. I still remember running up to him on my visits, my eyes wide open and sparkling with excitement.

Time passed, I got busy with studies and we drifted apart. This didn’t occur to me as much then as the day we got to know that he had decided to drift even farther, leaving behind a backyard full of memories ; a lone Punaar Puli plant one among them.