04 January 2009

From The Valley...

Meenakshi- amma, a Sri-Lankan repatriate at work in an estate in Gudalur Periyavar narrating his story to me For a second i was staring intently at his face searching for any glimmer of tears in his eyes that may well up as he narrated his old stories. In another second, i snapped out of my 'staring-into his eyes' state of mind to feel ashamed of my vulture like enthusiasm to probe any lasting shred of emotion in an old tired man. "Periyavar" alias 'Chellamuthu' was 16 when he got back home with his first 'salary' to find his father lying dead in his house. "It was an ailment", he says. Although he seemed vague about what the ailment was. Chellamuthu's father and mother had migrated to Sri Lanka in the early 20th century to work in the British plantations. His mother died soon after his father's demise, in an untowardly accident in the estate. In the year 1964, Chellamuthu , his young Sri Lankan wife and kids were huddled to India. "Like cattle, " says he. "We didnt have a choice." "We never see our relatives in Sri Lanka. But having lived in India for 40 years and hearing about the living conditions of our relatives in Sri Lanka, Im glad we came back to India. I might have been born in Sri Lanka. But this is where i found my roots. India is where i belong... " 'Periyavar' has three daughters and a son. Two of his daughters are married and the youngest girl works in Bangalore as a house maid. His son is a construction worker in Gudalur. Periyavar lives with his wife and his son in a pretty little house in Gudalur.


  1. dose old hands n eyes can judge d best leaves...awesum...nilgiris rock!

  2. Nice! The last picture. What are they cultivating there?

  3. paddy.. but mostly, the agriculture there is an amalgamation of coffee, tea, vanilla, paddy, pepper, vegetables ... even sun flowers at some point of the year!!