During my school days, I spent summer vacations with my grandparents in a village in Kerala. My school issued a student concession form which enabled me to buy train tickets at half the price. Those days, it was valid for only passenger trains which stopped at all stations. My mother packed food, snacks and water which lasted the entire journey.
My grandparents eagerly awaited my arrival. A few cousins also came there during the holidays. Grandmother prepared sweets and savouries for us to relish. We were encouraged to take bath in the village pond even though there was a well in the backyard. The pond had enough water even during summer for us to dive and swim. We washed our clothes on the stone steps of the pond. A walk to the village pond, swimming and a visit to a nearby temple would make us hungry.
Grandmother never cooked food without taking a bath. She also took a dip in the pond and visited the village temple. After reaching home, she would perform a pooja. She then picked up dry wood from the cattle-shed at the backyard, lit the stove and prepared food. The food tasted divine, since we were hungry. Jackfruits, bananas and mangoes grew in the backyard of the house for us to pluck and eat.
After food, we sat with grandfather on the veranda. Grandfather taught us stories from the epics. He taught me the art of wearing a dhoti. There was a good collection of books on various subjects in the house which my aunts and uncles left behind after their studies. There were also similar collections in the neighbouring houses which we could borrow, read and return.
The evenings were spent in visiting temples or playing with my cousins. There was a park near the village. Songs from a radio were broadcast to entertain visitors to the park. We munched roasted groundnuts sitting on the grass. Dinner was eaten early and we went to bed thereafter, because we were expected to get up early in the morning. We learned good values from our grandparents. Saying goodbye to them was the hardest part.
Nowadays, children in cities do not like to visit their grandparents in villages. They go to summer camps and pursue different skills in sports and arts These coaching camps come with hefty price tags. They also play e-games on laptops or fiddle with smart phones. Gone are the days when one sat at the feet of grandparents and imbibed life’s little lessons from their experiences and wisdom.