2013 May 6th was a special day for me. After several years’ repeated request I was able to honor and visit St. George Orthodox Church, Kizhumuri in Kandanadu West diocese this year for the perunnal of St. George. This Church is on the opposite bank of the river that runs through my village and I knew many people from childhood itself. So it was a pleasant reunion for me. Again I was able to visit my sick cousin, Mr. Mathew Kurian Murimakil, a retired government Upper Primary school headmaster, on the other side of the river that is my village only few houses away from my home. What is special about it was after a long time I was able to cross the river in a country boat and me also rowing it. It was a pleasant surprise to lot of people including my cousin. Pulikkasseril Very Rev. Skariah P. Chacko Corepiscopa (a student of my cousin) and Mr. Reji C. U. (Head of Information Technology, Al Khazna Insurance, Abu Dhabi) also joined me in the expedition.
During my childhood days so much time was spent in Muvattupuzha river that run through our backyard. We had two country boats, one that takes just one person. It was fun rowing it standing with a long row and going fast in quite flood waters that over flowed the front yard of my house where we had our paddy fields. The other one was to take more people and things when it was flooding and to go across the river to meet our neighbors. During flooding we go to the first floor of our house, as there will be flood waters in the ground floor, and watch the rain drops falling and eat fried tapioca chips. When we chew it the sound of the rain will be different in our ears. We would take cows, dogs and cattle across to the other side of the paddy field where we had a tile factory which was established by my grandfather.
Rarely we ate fish bought from market, rather caught from the river and ate them. We used to catch shrimp and fresh water lobster a lot. My father used to go for spreading net. Before hand I had to go and put feed for shrimp and mark the location that after an hour or so my father can come and catch them by spreading the net. Then my job would be to collect them from the net and put them in the basket. The egg of shrimp was really a delicacy and of course delicious.
During summer we used to have gospel convention, called Kottarakkadavu convention, on the sand bed of the river. Great preachers like Rev. Fr. K.O. Thomas, Rev. Fr. M. V. George (late H.G. Dr. Geevarghese Mar Osthatheos) and Prof. M.Y. Yohannan were regular on the preachers’ stand. I still remember those days when there was no mikes used. Then people like Ambattu Jacob sir and others standing at distance to repeat the sermon for people sitting at distance. Later there was a note under the announcement notice saying, “yogathil uchabashini undayirikkum” (there will be PA system for the meetings). I still remember a topic from Rev. Fr. K.O. Thomas which was “puramottu nokkaruthu” (don’t look back) referring to the wife of Lot (he will not say purakottu but puramottu … ). It was an interesting sight when people go back home after the sermons with coconut leaf torches and candles covered with coconut shell lest they go out in the wind. When I was little I used to dig holes behind boys sitting in the sand and when the pit is deep the sand will slide and the boy will slip in to the pit. I will run for my life let I get hurt (you can call it para veppu in modern terms). The proverb than kuzhicha kuzhiyil thaan thane veezhum never came true on me.
I used to take the boat for boat race Ramamangalam and Piravom. Standing at the rear end of the boat directing its course with a long row was a pride. Those were days gone. A bit of it came alive on this day. Thanks to the people at Kizhumuri St. George Church.
A video of my journey is uploaded to my youtube channel: