Jackfruit The Hedgehog

On my way home I stopped to buy a couple of things at a small shop near my apartment building. I saw that they had packets of ‘chaka vartha’ chips or fried jackfruit chips. So I bought one for me & my folks to much along with our evening tea/coffee. While I sat with my mom and ate some of the chips, I remembered something that happened way back in 1997/98. My mom’s sister had come down from Scotland with her kids & husband that year and for a couple of the younger ones, it was their first visit to India. Sree Harshan was the youngest, at probably 6 or 7 years old at that time.

At my grandmum’s house in Mattancherry, Sree happened to spy a huge jackfruit that was laid under a small stool in a dark corridor that leads to a store room (and which is rarely used and kinda scary for a small kid). He had never seen jackfruits before in his little life and the poor kid was scared. He showed it to his sister who was around 23 at the time. Well, she told him that it was hedgehog and that it was probably as scared of them as Sree was of it. So poor, guilible Sree believed her and later he placed a bowl of water near to it. His sister threw out the water when he wasn’t looking and Sree thought that it was the hedgehog that drank the water and this made him quite pleased.

Well a couple of days later my aunts took the jackfruit and cut it up and fried the chips and served it to us. Sree, unware that it was his ‘pet’ that we were eating, was quite vocal about the taste of it and enjoyed a plateful of it. A few mouthfulls later we told him that it was the ‘hedgehog’ that we were all eating.

Sree stopped and took a look at the chips in his hand. And then he replied ‘It’s quite tasty’ and reached for another handful of chips to stuff into his mouth!

Harthal Knows No Tears

Yesterday’s general strike or ‘harthal’ was called by the various trade unions & the LDF. Normal life in states with Left ruled governments like Kerala, West Bengal & Thripura were almost brought to a halt because of this. But it was especially cruel on one mother.

Rodia, a resident of Kattachira near Etttumanoor, was travelling by train to Cochin along with her elder son Sonal & her sister Maya. They were made to wait at the Thiruvananthapuram railway station for 3 hours, while waiting to board the Jayanthi Janata Express. Rodia’s 4 year old son Ronal was under treatment in Cochin for leukaemia. His mother had gone to the Regional Cancer Center in Thiruvananthapuram for looking into further treatment for her son, while her husband stayed with their younger son. However before she could reach the RCC, Ronal passed away.

Rodia’s sister Maya receieved a text message on her phone from her brother-in-law informing her that Ronal had breathed his last. She immediately gathered her sister & older nephew to the railway station to rush back to Cochin, without telling her sister of the grave news. But they had to wait for 3 hours at the station due to the rail blockade by the various Left groups.

When Rodia finally heard about the news of her son’s death, she broke down and her wails were heard by media persons at the station. Opposition party leader Ommen Chandy also reached the spot and he informed the Chief Minister about the poor lady’s plight. Some cops were ordered to accompany Rodia, Sonal & Maya to Kottayam in the train, as Ronal’s body was taken to his family’s house in Kattachira. It was 2:30 pm when she reached Kottayam and from there Rodia had police escort her to her son’s body.

The funeral for Ronal will be held in a church near his house at 10 am today.