Wednesday, July 05, 2006


She said that it is called ‘Champaykka’
She taught me that in her language (mine too) which I couldn’t speak well at that time.
She was an extremely tall woman.
She was my Grandma!
At first I thought that she is from Africa like my Mom, but when she turned to look at me, I saw her features more clearly.
Her very short hair was that which mislead me to think that she is from Africa, which was due to the cropping of her hair by a recent typhoid fever attack as my Dad said.
Her eyes were very large and long and it emitted radiance.
She looked at me with a surprise when I called her ‘Valiammachy! (Grandmother in her tongue) as Celina miss taught me to.

She has no way to know about Celina miss who was my mom’s friend.

Celina miss was a school teacher from India who has married a Nigerian lawyer.
She was coaching me to face my Grandma, who doesn’t know any other language other than her own.
I already knew that she dislike my Mom, and for that matter my dad too, for marrying a Kappiri( a colloquial name for people from Africa) as she call my Mom.

When she heard the word ‘Valiammachy’ she turned and looked at my dad who was smiling at her.
She walked slowly towards me and told me that I was not a Kappiri at all.
But I knew better.
I was not like my dad who was tall and fair skinned like a Brit.

My problem was different, as I wanted to be coloured black, like my Mom but ended up with a fair skin which made me different where ever I went, except in the Gulf and in India, for I had a brownish skin with a tinge of black with it.

My Grandma walked around like a kid that day.
She never used any support though she was 84 years old.
When she walks around where there are steps, she uses her hands to support some one.
It was the second day that she asked me if I want to walk around with her. I was pleased and followed her ike a shadow.

She took me to the river bank where she sat in a rock with difficulty and told me that the river belongs to us as it flows through her property.

She showed me an old cashew tree with full of yellow and purple fruits with raw cashew nuts projecting down, with its branches leaning sideways almost touching the water.
She told me that my dad used to climb that tree and do double and triple flips in to the river like a hunting harpoon when he was small.
We sat there almost an hour and she kept talking to me in her sing song voice.
I did understand only a part of it, though I nodded my head frequently in approval.

When she wanted to get up she looked down in to my small eyes and called me a ‘kappiri’… this time with love, and asked me to help her get up.

She took me all round her property and told me that it is all mine too.

She stopped near a tree… a tree close by that was full of glistening pink fruits. I haven’t seen anything like that before. The tree was completely covered with fruits and small white flowers too. She told me that the name is Champaykka.
She plucked some with her hands and gave them to me to eat. They were ripe and delicious. While I was eating she was looking at me curiously with a smile.
She looked around to make sure none can hear us and told me that she like my Kappiri Mom too. That surprised me but the next moment she added not to tell that to my Dad… with out a smile.

She was the only one I met ever, who talks with a sing song, musical tone.

I saw her looking at me and my dad with out batting an eyelid when we waved and got inside the waiting taxi in front of her house.
That was my memorable 8th day
It seemed that she knew that we will never meet again

My grandma passed away after one year.

Now I have two trees in my backyard with full of pinkish pearls most of the year.
I have it there so that I will always remember her.

Take a look at this kappiri’s pink Champaykka evolution.


starry nights said...

Me firsssssssssssst...Nice story Jac, sweet memories about your grandparents died before I was born.That fruit looks good I feel like picking it of of your plant and eating it.Is that the fruit of the cashew?

jac said...

Starry nights

It is called 'champakkai' which is actually 'wax jamboo' botanically, and there is a link there in the post itself to use, if you want to know more.

Thanks for being the first.

Dotm said...

Wonderful post about your grandmother. I feel your great love for her and hers for you while reading it. She sounded like one very wonderful caring person.

starry nights said...

Thanks for the link I learned all about a fruit that I did not know existed.

Anonymous said...

OMG, Jac how nicely you explain everything. My son is also half mallu, I remember when he was around 3-4 yrs and we took him to kerala, initially he was reluctant to speak in Malayalam but after few days he was enjoying like anything.

Nice post jac:)

Dew Drops said...

my mom used to make wine with Champakya ...

fritz said...

aww very t-w-e-e-t memories about your beloved granny! and so t-w-e-e-t of you to keep those sealed in your of those unforgettable memories that you will always cherish for the rest of your life.

this "champaykka" looks so yummy! umm...can i pick one, please? ;))

Walker said...

Very nice post Jac.
grandmothers always love their grandkids.
We never seem to get enough time with them though :)

Mindinside said...

This is the loveliest post.
I enjoy reading.
You come to reality as i read the lines.
Good to know about ur gandma!
Thanks for sharing:)

I love Munich said...

What a lovely story Jac ... and wonderfully narrated!! These Champaykka-fruit look delicious, I'm tempted to pick on out of the picture ;)!
You have beautfiful memories of your grandma - she must have been an outstanding person!
Thanks so much fo sharing all that!!

Colleen said...

What a sweet story! It reminds me of how much I miss my own grandmother - who was my hero.

jac said...

Yes I know, but I didn't get enough time to know her. She lingers in my mind

A great loss !!

jac said...

I am surprised. :)

Sarah said...

Champakkayude maduravum ammachide snehavum.. jeevitham oru bagyam thanne.. alle?

jac said...

And how old is he now ? I am sure he is an expert on the language.

I know only one way to explain and that is the plain language.
Thanks, Saroj !

jac said...

dew drops
You can make an excellent fruit juice with it. Cool it, add sugar or salt. Yummy !

That is what I do.

jac said...

You need just one "champaykka" ? But I have plenty here !!

When it ripens the whole tree looks like pink and crystalline and waxy.
Take you choice. Rememeber that I have 2 trees and you can even take one of those.
Thanks for the lovely comment about my Granny !

jac said...

You said it Man !

And I can't produce a Granny when ever I want.

The memories always lingers.

jac said...

That was a comment unlimited.

How sad that I can't bring her back.

jac said...

i love munich

That too is a lot of compliments and thanks for the visit and comment.

You can pick all the 'champaykka' if you want. This too is really delecious with salt and chillies, ha ha :)

You are always welcome.

jac said...


That was a lovely comment.

How old was your hero ?

jac said...

immigrant in canada

yes, it is.

But I am neither born in a crystal palce nor fed with a golden spoon.

Jeevitham oru 'chena' aaanu. Ruchiyum, chorichilum ellam koodi oru aviyal.

Sarah said...

someone once wrote in my autograph..jeevitham oru chena aa.. athinte chorichil anu sneham.. choriyuka Sarah, athmarthamayi choriyuka...I just remembered the chena and chorichil when I read ur comment!!!

Colleen said...

My hero (grandmother) was 72 when she passed away. She was a tall beautiful woman that gave unconditional love.

She always welcomed people with open arms - greeting them with a hug... even if she didn't know them!

She emitted warmth. I wish I could be so kind myself.

Thanks for sharing this story jac. It touched my heart and made me think about my own fond memories.

jac said...

Immigrant in canada

You are absolutly right.

I am happy that I could bring in lovely memories for you, Sarah !

jac said...


I am so happy to hear that

All Grandma's are mature with a lot of experiance with this world; no doubt that they emit radiance by this simple reason.

We both are sorry about their losses. Thank you for sharing your insight.

Anonymous said...

Jac, he is 8 yrs old. He speaks to me in my language and to his father in his language:)

Neers said...

quite insightful, jac... and i still miss my granny! couldnt see her before she said her last goodbyes.. have alwasy regretted that..

hey you curious about what?? and you are the only one, who said realm n kiss was cute!! thanks! :)

thanks again, for taking a stroll by :)

Rose said...

I exclaimed "CHAMPAIKKAAAA" as soon as i logged onto ur blog.. My colleagues sitting near me gave me dirty luks.. :D

Hmmm.. So u r a Kappiri.. ;)

My Valyammachi used to prepare luvly meen curry... It used to be literally red n colour with the fragrance of kodum puli.. She was paralysed for the last 7-8 yrs of her life, but never failed to shower that sunshine-smile of hers.. One hell of a woman..



Anonymous said...

Rose, I too prepare nice meen curry with kodu puli, whenever you come to delhi do contact me:)

jac said...


What language does he use when he has to address both of you ?


jac said...

Welcome to my window for the second time.

I too didn't get the chance to say goodbyes but my granny's memories linger with me.

Though I knew and wanted to write about the kiss and realm which are so meaningful and real, I lack the talent to express it in verse as you did.
I feel that you have expressed it beautifully.

Thanks again for coming here.

jac said...


I see the small face of a girl in the profile pic.
Was that the expression in your face when you said "CHAMPAIKKAAAA" ?? :))

I am sorry about your Grandma.
It is always painful to see some one suffer yet spreading a warmness to others.

Well ! I too like meen curry with kodampuli, if it really taste as hot as it looks.

Thanks, rose !

jac said...

Though I got you a friend in rose, are you afraid that if you invite me, I may land on your doorstep in Delhi, demanding that meen curry ?


Relax... I won't, as I am at the other end of the globe.

samuru999 said...

Thanks for sharing this wonderful
story about your grandma.
I really enjoyed it so much!

Jay said...

Those are really beautiful memories.

Anonymous said...

Jac when he is talking to both of us he use mix of hindi-malayalam-english.

I don't mind if you come to our home. How about spicy meencurry with kappa!!

I love cooking, when 'he' was in airforce, during every weekend we used to have his friends at home.

Rose said...

Well Saroj..

U have made a preposition i cannot resist.. ;).. Though Jac may not travel half the globe for it, i think I may land on your doorstep in Delhi, demanding that meen curry..



Rose said...


Actually i held my face with both my hands with a huge grin and gaped open-mouthed at them b4 i shouted out 'Chaampaykai'... ppl wud have easily thot i was impersonating Aishwarya wen she won her crown.. :D

Oh .. Ammachi's meen curry were spicy as HELL !!! It was the best meen curry in the world.. (Of crs i havent tried Saroj's yet)



jac said...


Thanks for you visit again.

My pleasure !

jac said...


Yes they are... just like your writing about your Mom a few months back.

Thanks for the comment.

jac said...


Which is called 'Malindlish'

Kappa with meen curry...Well ! I am eating it right now.

jac said...

I would have to find an official reason to visit Mumbai, for the meen curry is so tempting.

Thanks for the lovely comments.

hellbunny said...

What beautiful memories you have of your grandmother.She sounds a very special lady.

jac said...


Yes, she is still though she is no more.

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