Vasco Da Gama the Portugese Adventurer and sailor had stepped into the shores of calicut and was amazed at the kingdom and its people and their prosperity
Though he was treated with hospitality he showed his true color by slowly usurping the land by way of setting a trade post a routine ploy but the samorin drove him away and rest is history
The British later slowly and steadily stemmed and curbed the powers of the samorins and with free India former Prime minister Indira Gandhi reduced the family to penury by denying even the privy purse given to other royals
the samorins too were never wise enough to excel themselves in education and adapt to modernity like the Travancore and Cochin Rajas who still held on to a great part of their wealth .
My own Mothers father Padinjare kollothe Manavedan Raja was part of Mangavu kovilakkam ( Western palace )
His name was PCM Raja and he was known to all as Thampuran a name given to the royal family members .
Now my grandfather never had the airs of anything of the sort nor did he look like a king he was just another bald grandfather who snuffed and sneezed his retired existence .
he was more a silent type
Definitely i did not get that trait from him
he and my grandmother Valliyil karthiyayani amma were a great combo
she was fair short with curly hair and had a dignified air on her .
it was our habit ( me and cousins ) to way lay her on way back from the temple to taste the delicious thrimadhiram or sweet prasad she brought back
she would ask us to put some sandal paste on our forehead too but we were never keen on that part of the deal .
Hard of hearing and sitting with closed eyes our grandma would never know all this but our grandpa though sitting in the portico reading something in the dimming light was well aware of the goings on he would grunt once in a while to show he knew all but would never interfere .
those days there was no electricity in the big house so after an early dinner and gulping grandmothers fresh glass of frothing milk from our resident cows we would go up to the bedrooms to giggle a lot and try to sleep
It was talk time for grandpa and grandma then .
Grandma being deaf felt she had to shout for anyone to hear her so she would bellow at my grandfather thampurannu kelkunnundo ? can you hear me ?
then a small voice would pipe in .......hmmmm tell
what I am saying you can you hear and you just said ...... market !
hey paranjollu ..... please tell
and this would go on till they felt tired enough to retire to their bedroom .
once when I was around 12 years and had gone there for a holiday there was none other than me and both of them as by then my cousins had moved to another place .
I was sadly told to sleep in another room as I was now a big boy
The Kovilakkam house was huge and was built for around 50 to 60 people of an extended family and with only three people which included poor me it was massive and dark and to my mind full of strange beings walking around .
The small lamp would go off in the wind and in the pitch darkness the only solace was my grandparents talking with each other .
after some time this too would stop as they may have felt sleepy
The huge grounds on the side of my room was particularly frightening as in those days in old Nair houses most family members who passed away were creamated in a far flung corner within the house itself .
To my mind all my ancestors would find it convenient to go for a walk precisely then
With the rain pattering and occasional thunders rumbling illumination by lightening would reflect strange figurines in the life size mirror opposite my bed
enough was enough I felt then .
I was in that age when in the daytime I felt I was an adult but by night a small frightened child .
Again living in a big city like Madras with bright lights I wasn't used to pitch darkness with background noises
slowly I would take courage and howl ....Grandpa
yes....... you still not slept
oh no .about to sleep , just wondering if I need to come to your room
why are you wondering so ?..... this from my grandpa who knew is was a clever ploy from a frightened me
well you both old people all alone maybe you are afraid so I can look after you that's why .....
oh good ...please do come my son ..he would save me
I would immediately go there and as I went I would hear him say ....Avannu pedia .....thats he is afraid and both of them would chuckle
occasionally he would ask me to come which was a treat
He would go around 10 am in the blistering sun shaded by his huge umbrella walking all five kilometers one way
he would meet countless people on the way who would reverently en quire Thampurans well being
fter chatting with all of them we would reach the Railway station and the market nearby by afternoon
he would buy me a Nannari sarpath which was the spirte of those days
the cool liquid was a real relief for my parched throat after his shopping list was exhausted he would get one of the patient teenage boys in the market to carry his purchases as we returned back to a late lunch
I would lie down exhausted while he would change and go into the garden to potter around .
It was during my second year in medicine he passed away
I really wish I had talked to him more to know about his childhood days when they still had some pomp and power in Calicut but it wasn't to be
but still there is a part to his story which is very interesting which I hope to write more elaborately maybe one day .