The sun shines a little brighter in God’s own country upon the colorful effigies, and the night sky twinkles a little more with fireworks, as a sleepy little hamlet in deep tranches of Kerala comes alive on the thiruvonam day, with its mystical music and folk dances to celebrate Patayani.
We raise the 12ft swan effigy in the air that I helped my father build and design. We paint the swan’s beautiful red eyes, just like Bhadrakali’s. It feels like touching the sky, though I am only 10!
My father is a gifted artiste and many in my kin have told me that I have been lucky to inherit his creative genes. My two elder siblings not so much! We reach the procession a bit late. The fire around the temple is already lit. The scene around me is so dramatic that I can even feel goosebumps on my skin.
I leave my father’s hand and run towards my friends who are enjoying the splendour. We hold hands and move towards the procession to examine effigies. This is my favourite part. My eyes fall upon the effigies of Ravana and Bhima. I stand there, awestruck. So huge, so colorful! I am mesmerised at its beauty and the passion of the artiste reflected in the precise detailing. For a moment I feel guilty for thinking someone to be a greater artiste than my father. I can almost hear my father scolding me for it. I can hear my name being called out in different tones.
Avanitka? Aavaaantikaa? Avantikka! It’s not even 9 pm yet; how can you doze off?
I wake up to father’s voice and realise it is all just a craving spun into a dream. I instantly hug him with teary eyes. “What happened,” he asks, concerned. “I want to go to the procession!” I cry like a baby. He takes me to the terrace where my family awaits me. I can see my favourite ixoras in a basket in mother’s hands. My brother shows me the floating lights that he arranged for tonight. As we light up the floating lights with chants on our lips, in our hearts we missed the long marches to Palli Bhagavathi Temple in Neelamperoor, with coconut-made torches and the aura of grand parades. This year, even Patayani is ‘working from home’!
Note: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to a person living or otherwise may be purely coincidental