When the December frost descends the paddy fields of Gramam a total metamorphosis occurs. The entire brown fields convert itself into emerald green vegetable gardens. The water logged ‘thura’ suddenly becomes an ocean of vegetables. The entire gramers start vegetable cultivation. You could cultivate vegetables in others fields as well. Hence every one demarks a slot in thura and saw the seeds. Every garden has its own wells called kooval - a shallow pit dug into the fields for the purpose of watering. Every day morning the entire gramam assembles - father, mother and children - to water the vegetables and to collect the garden fresh vegetable ( I can even now remember that fresh smell). These vegetables are not for day to day use only but for the entire year. There used to be country seeds passed on from generation to generation which do not require pesticides.( there even used to be a variety of mathan (melon) sawed at a time when the pooram possession from theru starts which will be ready by Onam) . The main cultivation is cucumber and melon. Tiny pandals decorated with snake guards and bitter gourds and beans of different kinds sprouts every where. Spinaches and ripe tomatoes give a red tint to the field Water melons fully ripe shines in the morning dew. A nostalgic smell lingers in the background. Not only thura but every inch of payyanur will convert itself into vegetable gardens. Garden fresh vegetables used to make the curries tastier. Also after the harvest- that too is a festival- all the ripe cucumbers and melons are taken home which were preserved hanging down from the roof using coconut leaves.
I used to accompany my mother to the vegetable garden every day morning and evening. Watering the garden is a joy rather than a work. It is a miracle to see how a seed sawn a couple of days ago grew and creeps up to the pandal and blooms. Soon it will give rise to a fruit. It is the greatest miracle of life. A ladies finger flower on the next day gives rise to a tender fruit. A stone is tied at the end of every snake gourd lest it will spiral off. The reward of watering the garden is always a bite of a tender cucumber.
There is another duty for the children to perform. Selling vegetables. Spinaches and other vegetables are taken in a bamboo container and carried on head.
After the harvest a pathway is formed through the fields which is used as a short cut to payyanur town
Those days are gone. Now we are proud to purchase even curry leaves. We speak volumes against globalization. But we enjoy every purchase. When mangoes are plenty in our tree we will not think of making mango pickle but will wait for the time when it is sold in town. What a terrible change.
I remember those evenings as though they occurred in another life. The mirth of splashing water in a kooval or presenting some fresh vegetable to a loved one are all vivid in my memory. Also I remember a night in which four of us on our way to the festival at kurunhi stole a watermelon from a filed on the way and when we tried to break it- alas -it was a white melon - a ripe kumbalanga