Part 3 – My Sister’s Accident, Water and Some Other Stuff

I still have to get the picture of my house in the old days. If anyone reading has one, can you text it to me.

It’s hard to write on a timeline kind of basis but I will try to weave it as best I can.

So what was life like in while we lived in the first house? Since I was quite small then I don’t remember much so most of my memory will be when we lived in the second house that was built after demolishing the old house. (The materials of the old house was used to make a kitchen that was separate from the main house). I have to tell of this incident that happened to my sister Vady(she was after me in order of birth).

As I said earlier, Mama was always busy doing chores. My elder brothers were probably at school or outside playing and don’t recall where Papa was. Vady was probably somewhere between 2-3 yrs. of age, so that would make me about 5. After cooking there was always some firewood burning in the ‘chulha” and my mother would have like a cup or small pot of water heating on the cinders. This water was used to mix powdered milk for my sister like how we do with formula. So she was probably hungry and wanted “tea”(that’s what we called it) and was just tall enough to reach that cup of scalding/boiling water and it fell over her chest and ran down her body.

She started to bawl in pain and my mother came running. It was a total panic situation, where Mama was crying, I probably was but I remember mother did not know what to do so she started applying mud to the wound, thinking it would cool it. I don’t remember how they got Vady,( I spoke to my brother recently and he said my father had a car – I did not know this) to the hospital. It was a hospital run by the Shell company(approximately 45-60 minutes away) where my father worked and they took good care of her. It was a bad burn – first, second- and third-degree burns. She could have died they said. It was like her whole body was bandaged from the middle of her chest to her navel area- the brunt of the burn on the chest where the water fell on her. She was kept in a room by herself and I could remember accompanying my parents to see her. She would cry so much that the doctors did not allow Mama to see her too much because it would hamper her recovery. When she did come home it was still painful when Mama would apply some kind of ointment to it. It took a long time to heal. She still has a huge scar.

My mother did not think Vady was tall enough to reach that water and always blamed herself. I’m sure my father blamed my mother. It happened to Vady, but it happened to all of us. Life was very tough for my mother.  I can imagine Mama pregnant and having so much to do and take care of all of us.

Water

In the first and second house, we had barrels to collect rain water. A make shift piece of galvanize was connected at an angle to allow water to flow into the barrels from the roof. It was the main way we got water, but we also got water from the nearby school. Some people in the village had these large copper containers(shaped like a bowl) to collect water.  We had to supplement the water by toting it from the nearby school which had outdoor water taps for students to get a drink. The way it was built it was easy to put a bucket or other container under it and collect your water. Lots of villagers did this.

To tote the water, my elder brothers used a box cart and these large tin cans for the water (you got these by buying oil or biscuits and cleaned and used it when it was empty). From time to time someone from some government agency on the island would come around to spray the barrels with some chemical to kill mosquitoes. When they did the water smelled and tasted terrible. When you cooked with it, it was ok. Later on, when I was probably around 8 or 9 we got a water tap. It was not like you had water connected in the house. It was in the yard. We connected a hose to our kitchen. Sometimes we did not get water in the tap as they would “lock it off” meaning that the Water and Sewage Authority turned it off. We never knew if they were rationing or they were running new lines or fixing old ones. We had one public tap(near Dan’s house)in that part of the village at the bottom of the hill where I lived. Because of gravity there would always be a trickle of water flowing there. If there was no water there and rain did not fall then that would be a cause for concern. It seldom happened.

The Cow.

There were times that we owned a cow for milk. There was a short time we also owned goats (to sell to people). I was very small when we had the cow(first house). I only saw this cow once. The cow was usually tied some distance away from our house(I would estimate about 1 or 2 miles away). My parents would seek permission from the land owner to tie the cow. There was a lot of open land(called ‘paartee” land) that people owned and did not use. You would always be on the lookout for good grass for the cow to graze. Sometimes they tied the cow in the back of the school or in the cemetery or in the “paartee.” So, someone had to go and take water for the cow and make sure it had enough grass to feed on or you would have to cut grass with a grass knife. My eldest brother Sona(also called Mahadeo), took care of the cow. We called the cow ‘Latchmee” and Mama and Sona would say that the cow was tame and smart. They would go with the bucket of water or a bucket to get milk(when it had a young one) and hit it and call “Latchmee’ and the cow would come running. According to where the cow was you did not tie it but allow it to roam freely if it had a big area to feed on.

Goods and Garbage.

There was absolutely no waste. If you bought anything in a jar or can or similar container, it was cleaned and kept to put, sugar, spices, baking powder or anything else. We did not buy anything in boxes. At the market you would buy things that the store keeper would wrap in small piece of brown paper. If you bought vegetables you carried your own basket for it. Of course, things changed gradually as modernization took place. When it did change and we had garbage trucks I was already married.

Life is the flavor of the past. If we hold on to what people think or thought of us then we are living in their illusion- for only we can know who we are on the inside. If you hold on to the past emotions or things of such, then you take it to your future in this life or the next  as a samskara or vasana. It’s good to just look out of the adventure and just watch it 😊

Coming up I still have to write about what I mentioned before and will include the night my mama took pills and tried to commit suicide. Also I will say a little of what Mama said about what they had to do during the last world war. Not part of my experience but my mother is part of my story.  It is only while writing do I know how much I have to say😊

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