Sunday, June 1, 2008

Vanishing haystacks

‘He lay down with the bottle in one hand. After a while he heard the harvest song. It came from a distance but with great clarity. The music was back, carrying the pulse of nature with it. People cared after all. The granaries would fill. Haystacks would rise towards the sky. There would be dancing and games and merrymaking. “Hurry, Neeli, we’re late,” he called out and sat up.’

That is from a short story, ‘Morning after the storm’ (

Once upon a time, haystacks reflected prosperity. The paddy fields would be readied and sown before the rains. In a few months time the crop would be harvested. After threshing and winnowing, the paddy would go into granaries. And the land would dot with haystacks. That was how it was, till recently.

Now the situation is different. Large tracts of rice fields lying uncultivated are a common sight in Kerala today (see: Un-ploughed lies my land ). Many of those who still maintain cows and cowsheds have to buy hay at high prices. The haystack at Olavipe in the picture above is made with bought material.

Does this mean there is less prosperity now? Not really. Generally speaking, people better off today than at any time in the past that I can remember. This morning I found number two-wheelers at the local church. A decade or so back the vehicle population was limited to half a dozen bicycles.

Most people have jobs now. They eat regular meals, dress better, send their children to good schools. It is not at all surprising that the youngsters prefer to work elsewhere and not in the agriculture field. They can afford to buy rice with their earnings.

That too is progress.


Photo by me. Click on it for enlarged view.

Also see: Kerala: Left with empty granaries


Anooja said...

Actually a few days back, even i was thinking of the same thing. No more cows, cowsheds, people who come to tend to the cow, the haystacks (if not wrong i guess its called a " kachi turu"). No one to work on my grandmother's land. Its lying ' kadu pidichu ' .
Every one is prosperous in Kerala now a days :)

Abraham Tharakan said...

Anooja, thank you for your comment. 'Kachi thuru' has become a rare sight. Cowsheds in many old houses are vacant now.

Kariyachan said...

A very nostalgic post.
Reminds me of my childhood days.

Those days used to be a celebration during 'Koythu Kalam'. Going to the fields in the evening with my paternal grandfather , insisting on sleeping at the 'Methikalam' with him (where he used to sleep with a few accomplices for the few days until the 'Methickal' was finished and the "nellu" was transported safely to the granery).

And being afraid of the dark and those 'neerkolis' and 'cheras' and 'analis' and 'moorkans' alike, hesitant even to part the cot even to relieve the stress on my urinary bladder. That too under a temporatry tent, with the mandatory 'chimminy ranthal', and 'Echachan's' customary quota of 'thengin kallu'..

Those days are long gone..!

And jumbing and bouncing on those 'Kachikoona's'..interrupting the panikkar while they are busy erecting the Kachi Thuru by jumping on base of the 'kachithuru' in progress , insisting on operating the make shift lever tied to the near by 'thengu', to hoist the kachi to the level to where the panickaar are busy arranging the kachi.. and after all running away for a brisk bath, to get away from the itchy feeling..

Makes me recall the long forgotten poem..
'Oru vattam koodi ennormmakal meyunna
Thirumuttathethuvan moham... '

Sometimes, one's eyes get a bit watery.. recalling the old bygone days and fondly remembering those near and dear who too have vanished alongside ...

Yet I feel happy that I was not broughtup as an artificial being, that my roots and the ways I came through are sometimes reminded to me one way or other..

AT sir, I really thank you for posting these simple, yet hearty posts!

On a different note..;traditionaly the 'Thozhuthu' / Cow Shed used to be on the South East or right hand side on the front ,and the 'kachithuru' used to be erected on the south west or right hand side on the back of the house.

Abraham Tharakan said...

kariyachan, thank you for the comment brimming with nostalgia. It makes interesting reading. Our 'thozhuthu' (cowshed) is on the southeast of the house.
I don't quite agree with you on one point. ONV's beautiful poem 'Oruvattam koodiyen...' can never be forgotten!

Geet said...

This post was a very beautiful word painting of Kerala. Progress is necessary, but sometimes, I wonder if we lose a part of our inheritance, our memories, with the growth of material resources. I wish there was a way to indefinitely preserve our roots, and yet continue to water the tree. Perhaps that's why they call it wishful thinking :)

Abraham Tharakan said...

Thank you, geet. I like the usage 'word painting'.
You are right. In the fast changing scenario it is a struggle to keep watering the trees.

Maddy said...

fortunately we still have them in palakkad. though they look a bit different. but like it was said, they are also vanishing. as soon as the 'vayakol' is ready, the tamizhan lorries arrive to take them away..laden to crazy dimensions sometimes exceeding the road width, and getting stuck

Ashvin said...

Maddy, lucky you from Pallavur - it seems you still have krishi. We have no more wet lands left so no more playing on the 'vayakkol koonda'... memories of all the cousins getting together for summer hols, going to the nearby river in a group to swim and play... ends with me and my generation.