In my childhood I had a fascination for alleys (idavazhi) . You cannot see it in Payyanur nowadays. But the boarder of many compounds used to converge into a deep alley in my childhood. It winds around all the compounds- sometimes merging together and sometimes divulging - and finally leading to the main road. Alleys are a world in itself. They are made of mud usually yellow in colour. The art of ‘kayyala making’ is a job which requires much talent. It serves as a wall against cattle and trespassers. Here you could walk along and along without being seen by anybody. You could sing, if you can. One cannot predict where an alley will end. Sometimes it will reach a dead end. Usually it winds around unending number of compounds finally reaching at a cross road. There will be owe inspiring corners with Chembakam trees from which ‘gulikans aniyalam” and ‘aramadas’ of theyyams hang down. The corners of all alleys will be having a deposit of old broken earthen ware and decaying broomsticks. These are deposited there after a ritual to evacuate ‘cheta’ at the end of karkkidakam.
We used to play a game travelling through these alleys. It is called ‘Exploration of route’. We will enter through one of the alleys and explore them until we will find out a short cut to reach some known destination. After this great discovery that route will be named after the person who first found it. We have discovered many such short cuts to the temple , theyyakavu, playgrounds and the like. In one of such explorations, to our great shock, we found that alleys can be used for some other purposes as well. Mundane activities -of course. On one such trip we found a young man and a lady in an embarrassing situation. We got words of wrath in plenty but the incident added to our knowledge of folklore.
At night these alleys take a threatening stance. We were forbidden to take the alleys at night which were considered to be full of ghosts and yakshis .But I remember the beautiful alleys at dark nights lit by occasional chootu kattas(leaf torch)at night. The light emerging from the torch will paint magic figures on walls. The sounds of the torch bearers could be heard as though from deep wells. It will become surrealistic when a death visits the village at night. Lights from Leaf torches will light entire alleys and the village will be like a large hearth burning from several places. The light emerging from the torches will add up and it will paint the picture of death on walls.