The Open Dosa

Consuming the Ordinary Differently

The roof tiles of my old house

When I was fifteen, we shifted to a new house. But the memories of my old house keep following me like a shadow. That was a rented house, near to the railway station, it took only 15 minutes to reach the station. Even the vegetable market, fruit market, bus stand and hospital – everything was very close to the house. Any time of the day we could go to the market. Whenever we travelled to my grandparents place, we left the house only before 20 minutes. The horn of each train was very much audible, so we could recognize which train was passing. Oh! I forgot to mention the hill close to the railway station. On top the hill is the Lord ‘Shri Rama’s’ temple. On ‘Sri Rama Navami’ festival we make sure to climb the hill. Though we don’t worship – we enjoy the view of the city during the day and at night all lit up with bright lights. The very interesting thing which kept us awake and alert during the rainy season was our roof tiles.

The roof tiles were made of clay. Every rainy season my parents and I sat with containers so that we could stop the pouring of rain in the house. We had only two rooms – the kitchen and the other one was used for everything. Parlour, bed room, visitor’s room, study room and everything else. On a rainy day, we three siblings sat on the bed with containers to collect water that dripped from the tiles. My mother’s job was to sweep the water on the floor and my father’s job was to cover the roof with a plastic. The utensils in the kitchen were used to collect the water from the roof. We teased our mother a lot by saying “mom please bring more dowries from your house so that we can buy more utensils to collect water.”

The problem was not only in the rainy season, even in summer and winter too. Summer and winter we had rats as our visitors. Whole night they were busy in making holes. They wouldn’t let us sleep at all with their factories. Daytime they were busy with the rice that we stored in sacks for the whole year. One day we three siblings were alone at home. If my parents were in the house, they wouldn’t let us do what my siblings and I had planned to do. That day had come. We planned to kill the mother rat. We chased it, tried to catch her in a plastic bottle but just missed. Rat ran under the bed, between the sacks, into the cupboard, on top of the T.V oh! Where not? It made us run around a lot, at last we gave up and suddenly my brother shouted “Yes! I got it.”  Within a few seconds it disappeared. Then we gave up.

We never realized that rats keep grudge against people who chased them. At night my sister shouted so loudly that it woke us all up. As we got up, we saw only blood. I thought my father must have killed the rat but when I wiped my eyes and looked it was not the rat but it was my sister’s leg bleeding. The rat bit her, it could not bite both of us because I was sleeping on the bed, and my sister was on the floor, her legs stretching under the bed.

My father made sure that he killed that rat or else my brother and I could have been its next target. My sister had to take rest for a week. From then on we never went behind rats. My mom was so happy not because my sister got hurt but because we learned a lesson. She always told us not to go behind the rats; dad would take care of them. We naughty ones never listened her. There is a proverb in Telugu “peddala mata sadanam muta” It means “Elder’s words are like the old rice” it never gets spoiled.

During our stay in this house my mom even learned to be a concrete finisher. Anywhere in the street or on the road, if repair work or construction was going on, she would ask them a little cement and close all the holes in the roof tiles which were made by the rats.

With all these struggles we still managed to enjoy a lot. Neighbours appreciated us for we were the example for a happy family who stood together in struggle and joy.

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Marri Triveni

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