Harvest of Memories

Popularly referred to as the poor man's Ooty, Sakleshpur, earlier known as Sakala-aiswaryapura (the land of very known wealth), is a picturesque little hill station in Karnataka, nestling on a hillock above the banks of the Hemavathy river that meanders around three of its sides while on its journey to join the Kaveri. Across the river is the low hill-line which marks the edge of the Deccan Plateau - the male-nade, heralding the Western ghats where the Bengaluru-Mangaluru highway starts its descent to wind its way down Shiradi to reach the golden beaches of the port town of Mangalore.

I am drawn to this little coffee and cardamom town now and again to visit Hemavathy farm, retained for sentimental reasons as a symbol of our association with this town for the past 4 years. That is how long it is since my father left his vocation as an educationist to step into the greener pastures of coffee growing. Father is no more, and with him went the estates that he had built with the sweat off his brow. He disposed them off one by one, thoroughly disappointed in his progeny, who by then had chosen different corners of the world, with no time or interest to build on parental endeavour. Only Hemavathy has remained.

But as the years roll on, my visits to the farm become more infrequent. The frustration caused by the problems of absentee landlordism adds to the disinclination to make the, km journey from Delhi to Sakleshpur. On each visit, I determine to part with the property to any of those numerous bidders who have evinced keep interest in acquiring it. They would, I'm sure, have more time and proximate energy to do justice to its unkeep.

And then I arrive at the farm, take on its serene surroundings, which galvanise me into action. I roll up my sleeves and tackle one by one the problems that plague the place. In the evening I sit out with my glass in the yard to breathe the cool country air, sweetened by the fragrance of the acacia and eucalyptus and shaded by swaying coconut palms. Memories come flooding back - of those trees seen as saplings, placed in the freshly dug earth with my own hands, of plans own hands, of plans my father discussed, sharing with me his ideas to make the place a garden beyond compare. I see a little pink plastic potty my son once used, gifted to him by an aunt visiting from foreign shores. The tricycle in the corner catches my eye and in a moment the scene flashes back in time and sees my Indira and Prashanth taking turns to be in the riding seat and the pillion. I present the tricycle to the caretaker's children and delight at the sparkle of joy that lights up their eyes.

I leave the place, the decision to part with the property put off to a future date, once again.

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Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http:// www.maxwellperira.com and maxpk@vsnl.com

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