For me, summer vacations and Naani(grandmother) ka Ghar were synonymous and my best time of the year. Mid- May our summer vacations used to start and our preparations.. well they started much before that, somewhere around April end or so, good 15 days in advance!
I was always very excited and happy to visit my maternal home where there was joy and happiness all around. My Naani ghar was a huge house with massive ground full of trees and plants and once out of the boundaries of house, there were padded fields for us to trace down till we had the energy to walk. This house was my first ever encounter with the essence of India and maybe that was why I love it so much.
All that we see in Bollywood movies today, the ones that want to be realistic and show the rural India, I vouch that they are only able to show 10% of what rural India is. I remember as soon as we used to reach naani ghar , my grandma used to, first of all, rotate a huge jug filled with water over us, to shoo away any evil eye(buri nazar) that might have accompanied us in the road journey from our place to her’s. I still fail to understand the logic but then if that made her happy, it had to be okay!
Then, as soon as we(me & my sis) entered, our faces used to have a broad smile on greeting our girl squad of 4 sisters there. That was “my gang”, partners in crime for everything that was to come in 1 month of our stay. We were then offered a glass of sharbat(mix of chilled water from the well, lemon juice, sugar, pinch of rock salt and love) and homemade sweets. I remember there was no fridge and believe me there was no need also since the water from the well used to be really soothing and had a very addictive taste, much much different and refreshing from the cold water that is kept in our refrigerators.
The food was made on mud chulhas and trust me till date never ever have I had such satisfying, yummy and tempting food in any of the five or seven-star restaurants that I have been to. A simple yellow daal and rice with phulkas from that mud chulha can make your day much brighter and happier and when this was accompanied by my grandma’s special mango pickle, well I have no words to describe the taste.
After lunch, we used to play under the shades of trees and plucking mangoes used to be our favourite thing. The greenery, padded fields, mud roads, old architectural style doors, windows and house, all this and much more has left me with so many memories that every time a memory crosses my mind, I can only smile.
Those nights, when all us kids used to lie down on our cots in the open ground, under the moonlight, protected by mosquito nets and gazed at the starlit sky and the jugnus (glow worm) around. telling each other stories and slowly going off to sleep making plans for the next day, how can one ever forget those!
Every morning, waking up to the sounds of birds and lovely sight of a beautiful peacock dancing around you, can anything be more enchanting than this? Nothing, Right! That is exactly the charm that this place used to hold and is the reason why my summer vacations used to be the best time of the year.
As soon as the day to leave arrived, my gang and I used to be so gloomy, sad and teary eyed. We used to make promises to each other to meet soon with new set of ideas to play and have fun but even this gloomy mood was turned into a super happy one by naani when she used to give us our gifts, she was a real magician.
With years galloping away and responsibilities piling up, it has been difficult to visit naani ghar, but these memories.. they refresh me and make me happy whenever I think of them.
At times, I really miss my Naani(she is in safe hands of god now) and Naani Ghar.
What is your favorite memory of summer vacation…especially Naani house?