I woke up, sprang up from my bed and stared at the phone. It was 4 am. Phew, I made it! I was not late. I had to prepare Vishukkani.
This is my fourth Vishu in a row when I miss home. Vishu was one of the many pleasures robbed by career from many youngsters of my generation. Though not as big as Onam, Vishu had the added attraction that it came during the summer vacation.
I used to voluntarily wake up early during the vacation days then. But on the Vishu day, ammoomma would beat us all, however hard you try. There was a good reason: she had to prepare the Vishukkani. The very first sight of the auspicious Vishukkani, the silver coins from elders, the early morning bath and the walk to temple and then to my ancestral house, and the fun we shared with our cousins...
By the time we are back, we would’ve collected a huge (by the standards of a school kid) amount. There would be enormous plans about how to use it, but all the collection would promptly end in amma’s purse. This routine went on for many years. The only break I had was in 1997, when I was in Gujarat, at my uncle’s place.
Then came the Vishu of 2002. Awaiting the plus-two results, I spent the Vishu eve at my ancestral home. My aunt, who was taking care of my grandmother, was out of station. I was put in charge of the house, her son and that year’s Vishukkani. I was turning 18 that June, I was experiencing the transition from a teenager to an adult.
Then the three years in college, and by the Vishu of 2005, I had decided to take up journalism.
I was out of home on my own during my internship in 2006. My first Vishu without a Vishukkani. By the next Vishu, I was a sub-editor in a Chennai daily. I never thought twice before catching the bus to Vellore on that Vishu eve. My aunt had moved to Vellore. They were in their new home. I reached there around 5 in the morning, and the very first sight I saw inside the house was a beautifully arranged Vishukkani.
I moved to Bangalore after two months. Then came last year’s Vishu. That time, I was hell-bent on setting up a Vishukkani. I managed it somehow, with Raku’s (remember?) chain in place of gold and a candle substituting the mandatory lamp. But I missed the most important component: the bunch of kanikkonna flower.
I played the granny, waking up each one, leading them with their eyes covered, and making sure that what they saw first that day was the Vishukkani. It wasn’t a total surprise; Raku knew it. Guys were very happy, and I was happy seeing them happy.
This year, I decided to keep every hint of Vishukkani under wraps. Mithun and Aby were out, with me left alone for precious three hours before lunch. As soon as they were out, I tiptoed to our regular vegetable stall, and there awaited my bonus of the year: A bunch of kanikkonna flowers.
I was planning to set up everything after everyone was asleep, and I dozed off. But I managed to set it up well before the first one was awake. Lal was about to spring up from the bed; it was time for him to reach the call centre. I covered his eyes just in time, and he became the first one to see the Vishukkani.
I was happy that our gang was feeling at home, but the phone calls from Kerala and the TV shows were more than enough to make me feel homesick. I know it’s pointless being nostalgic. But I still wonder where will my next Vishu be.