Long time ago in the early 1900’s a nubile young mallu lady was walking on the bund that separated the paddy fields owned by her family with that of another family. She was very pretty and very sexy* (loosely translated from the mallu word *wottahotbabe).
A virile young mallu turk was working in the other field and as fate would have it, their paths crossed. And since the virile young mallu turk was straight (as the whole Gay thing had not happened back then) an appreciative whistle escaped his lips. The young lass blushed when she heard the whistle and glanced shyly at the whistler. He was good-looking with a thin pencil moustache and stylish Weaver Bird Nest hairstyle. ( This particular hairstyle made men look at least three feet taller and hence was a rage in those days)
The sunlight glistened off his coconut-oiled hair. His well-muscled hands and legs were caked with mud from working in the fields. The nubile young mallu lady, like all nubile young ladies of her time fluttered her eyelashes and bit her lip in embarrassment and walked back home giggling. The virile young mallu turk watched her receding back appreciatively disregarding the fast drying mud on his hands and legs.
An innocent incident you must think. But this is mallu land. A verdant land of mountains that were actually mole hills. No mallu worth his salt will leave a mole hill unheightened. Unknown to the young couple curious eyes had observed the incident and the news was quickly disseminated via the various village media channels to all and sundry and their neighbors. (Media planning is an ancient mallu art.) All hell broke lose when the news was received in homes, kallu shaaps (toddy shops) and chaaya kadaas (tea shops) and the Parish Priest’s office ( the Priests attendant, known as the ‘Kapiiyaru’ has a wider reach than Doordarshan).
People discussed the incident at length and those of you who have read Mallu Whispers can guess the final Edited version of the news that was passed on word of mouth. According to the final version of the news, our virile young mallu turk had grabbed the fair and delicate wrist of the nubile young mallu lady, causing her to shriek and run home as fast as her mundu allowed. (which is a little faster than a tortoise but not as fast as a KSRTC bus)
That evening, blood curdling howls were heard in the valley. People attributed it to the evil spirits, but the howl was actually the painful moans of the virile young mallu turk scrubbing the mud off his body with coconut fibre at the creek. (He swore never to use coconut fibre again)
The next day at the young lass’s house a battle cry was sounded at 8 am. ( because the rooster failed to crow at the appointed hour of 6 am. The useless rooster in the chicken coup was in the habit of catching 40 winks in the morning. Many a war expedition in ancient Kerala was delayed due to lazy roosters. It was an alarming trend).
It was a Sunday and hence the expedition to the lad’s house was further delayed as Velliyammachi had made Appam and Stew. No one dared ignore her Appam and Stew even if the Appam tasted like rancid rubber sheet and the meat in the stew was tougher than MRF tyres. The chicken stew was always made from the meat of the last rooster who refused to crow. (Velliyammachi was a prolific rooster shopper. She bought one every week)
It was many generations later that someone discovered the reason for the toughness of meat in Velliyammachi’s stew. By then it was too late. 1456476 roosters had died in her quest for the perfect Chicken Stew.
Groaning under the heavy breakfast and indigestion the men in the family set off for the virile young mallu turk’s house. The bewildered family of the virile young mallu turk was taken aback to see a group of irate achayans come marching up the driveway (we had driveways back then for kaala vandi’s i.e. bullock carts). The achayans were fuming due to the over spiced stew and grimacing due to the indigestible Appams. It made a terrifying sight. (It was decided enroute that next time they will feed the enemy Velliyammachi’s Appam and Stew as a defensive war maneuver.)
The incensed men of the nubile young mallu lady’s family berated the virile young mallu turks family for raising a rapacious son. The family of the young lad stoutly defended his innocence and called the young lass a charlatan. This enraged the young lass’s family and a war of words ensued. The indigestion didn’t help matters and to cut the narrative short both families decided to cut off ties and vowed never to have anything to do with each other again. (The brave young mallu turk watched the proceeding with great interest from the safety of the cowshed).
After the dust had settled and the cackling of the chickens had died down, the virile young mallu turk was hauled from the cowshed and made to confess his sins at the church. The young lad like a good Christian recounted his escapades er…sins with great sincerity. The Confession went on for over two hours they say. Soon after the confession the priest died of a massive heart attack. (According to local legend his last words were “aarrrgh why did I have to join the priesthood?”)
The young lass were hurriedly married off before every eligible boy’s parents got to know of her er….encounter. (There were different classes of encounters in Kerala those days. This was Class I which was very negligible followed by Class II, Class III etc. I guess you get the idea by now).
The enmity between these two families is over six generations old now.
But the ghost or genes of the two young lovers have come to haunt the hormones of the new generation again. A boy from the young mallu turk’s family ( i.e. my family) is in love with a lass from the nubile young mallu lady’s family. The families are aghast, scandalized and incensed ( not particularly in that order). Elders from both sides refused to give permission for the union.
The two young rebels finally eloped and got married between a rape and a murder. (What I am trying to say is that they got married in court. The registration took place between a murder case and a rape case.)
And thus ended the enmity that was six generations old. Amen.