Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Kyrabai of Kokan

She has mostly forgotten about being Elena.

She is Kyrabai now, ever since  she married Suryakant , as he is called, in Velas, the village near Ratnagiri from where his family hails. 

They change the bride's name after marriage ,  Aji, the old matriarch said.   And so , she is now Kyra. Named after Kairi, the raw mango.

Aji often complains about the sun these days.  It wasn't like this when she came to live in Velas , many years ago, as a new bride. She'd then be out on the beach, waving goodbye at the boats, as they bobbed on the waves, flags aflutter, or waiting for the boats , in the evening or late afternoon, sometimes helping with some  general boat repair, and daily sorting of the catch. A decent rub of coconut milk and oil, and a scrub of turmeric and she would be fresh for another day.  Life was all about making a life in Velas, under the guidance of the elders.

Then her eldest, Suryakant, left the village to earn some extra money at a job in the plains , against her wishes. Life changed.   And he returned, with Kyra as his wife.

A very lively and active daughter-in-law, Kyra participated in everything, learnt the traditional cooking, and everyone was curious about her....

At first Aji would laugh at all the stuff that Kyra used to put on her face, when she went out in the sun.  But then she learned something.

Like the institution of the family, the Sun too had changed. Authority was being challenged in subtle ways.   A protective layer way up in the sky, above the clouds,  that filtered out the dangerous variety of Sun's rays, had developed, holes, like the Mumbai roads, thanks to a sudden rush of various machines like refrigerators, that used and emitted some undesirable gases. And the Sun, like a fellow gone berserk in a BMW  without a driver's licence, simply pushed on, down to us, with all the dangerous components in its rays.

And so Kantabai from two houses away had developed these spots from working in the fields last summer, and Bhaurao's folks complained of uncomfortable scratches and rough scaly skin after having to travel daily  for hours on foot , to the Taluka place.

It all changed after Kyra arrived.  She would have these bright yellow tubes in her bag. And particularly when she planned to be out for a longish time, and almost daily in the hot summer, she would apply stuff from the tubes, to all the exposed skin.

Sometime in March, when the Olive Ridley Turtles (for which Velas was justifiably famous ) hatched, there would be droves of people coming in from the cities, to participate in the Olive Ridley program, where the hatched turtles were escorted safely back into the sea. Kyra was a member of a local NGO, that did this work, with some others, with great dedication and care.   

Of coure, Kyra and Suryakant  made many friends with the regular visitors,  and some of the girls had volunteered to get these yellow tubes for Kyra.

And so, Aji had some applied on to her arms ,face and legs, when she was to walk to the next village for a pre-marriage ceremony in the family.  Suryakant's cousins who accompanied her, made use of it too.  It is an Indian company called Lakme, and Aji is very proud that they make, what she calls, "all these fancy things, like in films".

She doesn't mean the Bollywood movies. Thanks to the cricket mania now prevalent through the length and breadth of the country, Aji saw all these grown up chaps slathered with off white stuff on their noses and cheeks , on the cricket pitch on TV. Her grandsons clarified that this was called "sunscreen ", like a "purdah" to shelter you from the bad effects of the sun.

The guys on the field looked a bit stupid, but Aji is just happy, that women like her, Kyra and the younger ones, who gallivanted in the mango orchards up the road,had something that you could properly rub in, was invisible, and  much better.  Some of it was even sweat proof, and didn't run .....

This summer is a bit special. Kyra and Suryakant are starting a seafood restaurant down the beach , some distance away.   Some of Aji's great traditional recipe's will be made for guests.  The cousins are polishing up their English.  Some fancy glasses like in films have been purchased to serve Kokum juice and Soul Kadhi in a very posh way. 

Aji is preparing some dry masalas for them on a grand scale. Some of the whole masalas  were drying in the sun, outside the house, watched over by the younger kids.

Till Aji got there.

They waited. A day in the Sun, always meant Aji's tryst with the Lakme Sun Magic....

It wouldn't take long at all. Aji would be there in five minutes ! ......   

(This is being submitted as an entry for the Indiblogger Lakme Diva Blogger Contest. )


  1. Wow..Beautifully written..I Could imagine all the characters so well..

  2. nice post.. creative indeed.. all the best for the contest..

  3. Awesome post!!! All d best for the contest

  4. Creativity at its best!!

    Nobody could have thought of this :) All the best!

  5. that is a lot of characters in one story .. and I loved reading it all... Only you could write so beautifully ... Thank you.


  6. hahahaha I always find something interesting and original there. Great read.
    btw the Marathi music on your blog is so refreshing :)
    Best to you

    1. Tikuli, thank you ! Glad you enjoyed the music...

  7. kyra bai...heee hee...bechari kyra....all oomph n vegas, you made her don sari n land in velas!

    1. numerounity, who said there was oomph in vegas ? The real oomph is in velas, with the amazing folks, the sun and the turtles.