Achan- Bali and Poojas

It rained heavily yesterday, but by the time everyone started arriving the day cleared up and the rain stayed away. Today was different. I woke up to what sounded like an open tap outside my window. It was water which was draining from the roof at such force that it carried on for hours.

My friend’s mother had taken ill and she flew in from Dubai last night. I’m returning home tomorrow and so decided to visit her today in the hospital if she was up to receiving visitors. It is the same hospital where my dad died last year. We wait for a bit of respite from the rain before starting our trip. This time we travel to Kollam via Kundara. A village which used to have four distinctive areas around a hospital, temple, church and shops, where the hub of activities used to be concentrated. Now it seems that it has all merged into one big town area with rows of shops lining the roads connecting them. The village feel has gone and the roads are pretty busy. We make a quick stop at the photo studio. The owner promises to drop the prints off at home this afternoon.

Next stop the tailors to get my saree blouses stitched. She is also happy to stitch them urgently for me today as I’m leaving tomorrow. I drop Asha off at a shop and make my way to see my friend. The Medicity Hospital is pretty impressive and clean with heightened security. They let me through after asking questions. I meet my friend in the corridor outside her mum’s room. I haven’t seen her mother for a few years and it is quite sad to see her in this state. It is unlikely that she will make it. We talk for a little while and I make my way back. It looks like she will be spending the end of Ramadan and Eid in the hospital tomorrow but I think that is the least of their concerns. My friend has a big supportive family and I hope she will be ok.

Once we get home and have lunch, it is time to start packing for my return journey. The poojaris arrive on time again this evening to conduct the second part of the poojas. They did the first part this morning. Soon the front hall is decorated and the rituals begin. The house is full of smoke again. My sister and I joke whether death by mosquitoes and dengue was worse to staying in the house and being consumed by smoke. I stay in and she stays out. It all goes smoothly and they finish by 1030pm. Now my mother needs to tidy up and decide how to distribute the ‘prasadams’ (sweet offerings). It is late and she packs it into separate containers for all our neighbours and relatives before calling it a day.

We all have an early start again. I will be leaving for the airport and my mother and sister are going to Varkala to complete the rest of the rituals. We have achieved what we’ve come to do and it all seems to have gone well. It’s time to let my dad rest in peace and for us to move on with our lives.

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