Our little guy is now a week old.
And in our Seattle household, ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’, has morphed into just the name of an old movie.
Meanwhile, I got to musing more:
According to the Kerala Syrian Christian inheritance practices, (again to repeat myself with that word by making it sound like we’re some kind of chosen people!), Thampi, being the youngest of 2 sons of Achayan (his dad), had inherited the family house.
So if our nuclear family had been making India our home for the last half century, Mekhala being the youngest of 3 girls with no brothers, would have inherited our Pallipad house. To make it more cumbersome, prior to their marriage, David would’ve had to agree to this set-up, because this would mean he would give up the same rights from his family.
And Will being the only son of Mekhala, youngest or not, would be poised to inherit it subsequently.
So how fitting is it that Will is named after the original owners of the house, P. (Panackal) A. (Abraham) Eapen: Achayan, Will’s great grandfather, and also Achayan’s grandfather. Achayan’s name, in conformance with the custom, was naturally from his grandfather Abraham Eapen.
So Will and his great, great, great, grandfathers. That’s three ‘greats’. They Make up the substance of this story. life has turned full circle.
God answers prayers. If not always, at some point. If not now, some day when you’re not looking.
And what I would give to see Achayan’s face right now.
Achayan was an only child of his parents.
When we ended up with 6 daughters between his only 2 sons, Achayan used to say half-jokingly, that all the desperate prayers of valli-amachy (his mother) pleading with God to grant her at least one girl, were finally answered in the form of 6 girls years later, but with no boys in the mix.
I have no clue why Amachy didn’t beg for another boy, you know, as in ‘an heir and a spare’ as they say in the British Kingdom, but she wanted a daughter.
The family lore is that Amachy, who was from Thalavadi Amprayil family, once went to the Edathua ‘perunal’, which was right next door, and did a ‘nercha’, but kept it an ‘open secret’, because ‘good’ MarThomas were not permitted to participate in ‘nercha’. I think she pledged a few chicks to the palli or something.
Achayan had 2 daughters who ended up with 4 sons between them, but they didn’t ‘count’(!), as you all well know why.
I’m not certain how many of our progeny are cognizant of the fact that we come from such a methodically configured culture.
And there would be rancor if anyone tried to break the mold. And mostly no one did.
Say what you will about the apparent male chauvinism involved in all this – I’d rather call it patriarchy – but what it did also, was to create an order, at a time when we needed to keep it all together.
The second, third, and beyond, generations would undoubtedly benefit from being conscious of our past, no matter how far removed they are from it.
Past can always inform the future. For better or for worse.
So now ‘Back To The Future’:
When we had Mekhala, after having 2 girls, and Thampi’s brother having had 2 girls (then another one later), everyone including my parents were anticipating the ‘answers to all their prayers’ in the form of a boy, as an inheritor of the family name, the house, and the so-called wealth. Achayan used to call our Pallipad house Mekhala’s.
What transpired next: so Mekhala was born 11 days past her due date. When no easy phone service from the US was available back home, the whole universe – which meant the family and a whole lot of neighbors – were anxiously awaiting the news to hear if the ‘heir apparent’ had arrived.
And on February 20th, the whole village awoke to see the telegram guy bicycling towards the Kochupurackal house, and within moments, as cousin Kunjachayan’s daughter Susy was seen running away from the house in tears, and our beloved Kuttan asking helplessly ‘thampi thampuranu pinnem oru pennano?’, word spread like wildfire that ‘poor’ hapless Kochupurackal Babychayan had another girl grandbaby. Milling around the house courtyard, they sympathized as best as they could, with Achayan and Amachy. “vidhiya, babychaya, kochame – entho cheyyana”.
Valli-amachy gave away too many chicks. 🙂
By the way, all 3 of our daughters have heard this story more times they can count, so don’t feel bad about breaking this to them gently. I was also one of the souls who shed tears that February day.
Years later, would I change a thing about that girl baby or any part of experience? The answer is: emphatically no, no way on earth.
And little did anyone imagine their prayers will be answered in the form of one Will Stephen Fentin.
Call it a willful Will or God’s will.
I felt really compelled to share this as a post-script to my posting from last week.
While doing so, I was also imagining David, Mekhala, Laila, Nora and Will, living in our Pallipad house – which no longer exists, not even one brick of it.
Regardless, it was fun picturing them living next door to Pandarathil Thankachayan (a relative), Percattu Kunjumon, Krishnan, Venu, et al.
The best was visualizing Kunjipennu drawing water from the well, and Thomachen, the vegetable vendor haggling over the price of one-day-too-old achinga.
And imagine, these things didn’t happen in Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, the ancient sites of the Indus Valley Civilization, it was just some 30 plus years ago, and it happened in that watery dip called Kerala’s Upper Kuttanad.
From Travancore to Seattle. From deep Southern India to the Northwestern United States. I found it hard to wrap my head around it.
Anyway, thank you for indulging me, and allowing me to reminisce. I had fun. I’m sure some of you stopped reading long ago, like at the half-way mark. 🙂
And further with the movies theme, as sweet Will was taking his sweet time last week, contemplating when to come out head first to say hello! to the world, he granted ample time for Ammi to teach his big sister (all of 6 years old) how to make yogurt at home, who was fascinated it could even be done, and also to see ‘Trumbo’ and ‘The Martian’. Go see it.