The Big House at Mambalam

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SivaRamanathan
Posts: 1004
Joined: 14 May 2011, 20:30

The Big House at Mambalam

#1 Post by SivaRamanathan » 10 Oct 2019, 10:31



When the cattle left in four wheelers from Pondicherry,
they came to T-Nagar in Mambalam

straight to their sheds at the back of the house
where partitions were made for cows and buffaloes
that settled as they wagged off the flies.

The clay pot soon filled with kitchen waste,
edible, uncooked, peel and rice-washed water,
all for the fodder trough.

Daughter-in-law number one did puja;
she habitually took Arthi with camphor and incense
and worshipped the behind where the tail started,

the dung shitting place—goddess Lakshmi resides there—
she loved to circumambulate, feed it humming bird tree leaves.

The dung was used to make gobar gas
which reached the kitchen through PVC pipes.

The harvest festival Pongal
was for worshipping cows, buffaloes and goats.

Cattle with newly-painted horns in vibrant colours,
wearing huge Hare Krishna beads and mock-silver anklets,

were made to circumambulate the brick stove fired with wood
where freshly-harvested rice boiled in jaggery and garnished
with cashew nuts and ghee brimmed-over as prasad.

Respected and pampered, the first offering
was for the cows.

Before the festival, cow dung was lumped as Pillayars
every dawn at the front doorsteps
and crowned with yellow flowers.

The courtyard was prepared for the festival,
topography marked with pointers in strategic places,

the hierarchy of daughters-in-law vied with the daughter
of the house to draw the kolam, a rice flour artwork
with dots and loops, depicting the Sun Lord’s chariot.


Grandma and little uncle had four chicken coops
for raising broiler chickens. When floods came,
the chickens drowned,

but the cattle were lead to a higher plane.
Servants and vendors dared walk in only through the side gate.
The long queue was for buying thick buttermilk.

Drumstick trees, mangoes, giant limes, guavas,
sapota, were grown at the back of the compound.

Night jasmines, Ixora, wax flower, oleander, were planted
for the gods. We did not have to purchase flowers.

A few furlongs away, Grandma had a farm
where the well was always full. Beans and gourds

intertwined and every two or three days, we plucked greens
and vegetables. I tagged along with her to the family farm.

Inside the house was an inner courtyard where uncles sat
with hand-woven thread towels wrapped around their waists
while their wives rubbed gingilli oil on their bodies

for the ritual oil bath. I vowed never to get married
if this was one of a wife’s duties, little realizing they enjoyed it.

The big house was demolished, the family farm levelled.
Concrete flats towered, and the well was full no more.

Kenneth2816
Posts: 1177
Joined: 01 Jun 2008, 09:17

Re: The Big House at Mambalam

#2 Post by Kenneth2816 » 11 Oct 2019, 10:48

Glad to see this gain .its a,wonderful poem

SivaRamanathan
Posts: 1004
Joined: 14 May 2011, 20:30

Re: The Big House at Mambalam

#3 Post by SivaRamanathan » 11 Oct 2019, 17:17

The Big House at Mambalam  

 

The cattle left in four wheelers from Pondicherry,

and came to T-Nagar in Mambalam

 

straight to their sheds behind the house

where partitions were made for cows and buffaloes

They settled down, their tails wagged off  flies.

 

The clay pot soon filled up with kitchen waste;

the uncooked, the peels and rice-washed water,

all for the fodder trough.

 

Daughter-in-law number one did puja;

she took Arthi with camphor and incense

and worshipped the behind where the tail started 
 

the dung place—goddess Lakshmi resided there—(resides or resided)

she loved to circumambulate, feed it humming bird-tree leaves.

 

The dung used to make gobar gas

reached the kitchen through PVC pipes.

 

The harvest festival Pongal

celebrated for worshipping cows, buffaloes and goats;

 

cattle with newly-painted horns in vibrant colours

wearing huge Hare Krishna beads and mock-silver anklets 



 

were made to circumambulate the wood-fired  brick stove 

freshly-harvested rice boiled in jaggery garnished

with cashew nuts and ghee brimmed-over as prasad. (Italics)

 

 Respected and pampered, the first offering

 was for the cows.

 

Before the festival, cow dung was lumped as Pillayars

every dawn at the front doorsteps

and crowned with yellow flowers.

 

The courtyard was prepared for the festival,

topography marked with pointers in strategic places,

 

the hierarchy of daughters-in-law vied with the daughter

of the house to draw the kolam, a rice flour artwork

with dots and loops, depicting the Sun Lord’s chariot.

 

 

Grandma and little uncle had four chicken coops

for raising broiler chickens. When floods came,

the chickens drowned
 

but the cattle were led to a higher plane.

Servants and vendors dared walk in only through the side gate.

The long queue was for buying thick buttermilk.

 

Drumstick trees, mangoes, giant limes, guavas,

sapota, were grown at the back of the compound.

 

Night jasmines, Ixora, wax flower, oleander, were planted

for the gods. We did not have to purchase flowers.

 

A few furlongs away, Grandma had a farm

where the well was always full. Beans and gourds

 

intertwined and every two or three days, we plucked greens

and vegetables. I tagged along with her to the family farm.

 

Inside the house was an inner courtyard where uncles sat

with hand-woven thread towels wrapped around their waists

while their wives rubbed gingelly oil on their bodies

 

for the ritual oil bath. I vowed never to get married

if this was one of a wife’s duties, little realizing they enjoyed it.

 

Now the big house is demolished, the family farm levelled.

Concrete flats tower, and the well is full no more.

BobBradshaw
Posts: 1368
Joined: 03 Jun 2016, 21:03

Re: The Big House at Mambalam

#4 Post by BobBradshaw » 11 Oct 2019, 20:45

Lovely poem....all the way through. The details immerse me in the setting...

love these lines especially....but they're all good

cattle with newly-painted horns in vibrant colours

wearing huge Hare Krishna beads and mock-silver anklets





were made to circumambulate the wood-fired brick stove

freshly-harvested rice boiled in jaggery garnished

with cashew nuts and ghee brimmed-over as prasad.

SivaRamanathan
Posts: 1004
Joined: 14 May 2011, 20:30

Re: The Big House at Mambalam

#5 Post by SivaRamanathan » 16 Oct 2019, 08:46

Dear co-travellers,

If the poem has been tidied up to this level of structure it is only because a certain vanguard(who wishes to remain anonymous) from this group, has been coaching and making me work on this poem. Now the poem is finished and if the offer to send it to the IBPC is still open, then it is up to Michael and others to forward it.
Siva

Kenneth2816
Posts: 1177
Joined: 01 Jun 2008, 09:17

Re: The Big House at Mambalam

#6 Post by Kenneth2816 » 17 Oct 2019, 14:04

One of my choices for IBPC this month

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