(February 12) Now there was just one must-do left on our list—find the house where we lived for two months, a two-story affair with our own washing pond on the edge of a rice field that we rented for $20 a month. We set off in the cool of the morning armed with the owner’s name, a neighborhood name and a photo of us in front of the house from 32 years ago. Keep in mind that there were no streets or addresses back then, just some winding back paths filled with children trailing us day-after-day shouting “What is your name? What is your name?” Guided by some inner GPS and the kindness of strangers, we arrived where we thought the house should be in front of a large gated Gulf-funded “McMansion. ” (Indeed, this is my issue with the GPS—robs us of exercising our intuition and asking for help from others.) We wondered whether this was the new main house where the old one had been. Miraculously (but miracles were now the norm), a woman appeared at the door while we stood at the gate wondering what to do and came out to speak with us. Menon, the owner we rented from, had died, but she was his widow. We showed her the photo and asked if the house we had rented was still there. She opened the gate, take us around the back—and there it was!! Amazing! We re-took the photos (soon to appear, along with others, on this blog when I get to a place where my daughter can help me!) and left with our hearts full of wonder and nostalgia.
We decided that this was to be a day of rest and we transferred to the Eco-resort and spent a day in a Western-style vacation—hanging around the pool reading, writing, sketching, away from the noise and hub-bub (what a great word!) looking out over the coconut-palmed landscape—all for a price less than a shabby Ramada Inn on Strip-Mall, U.S.A. We were the only guests there and that was just fine.
Next morning, off by train to Trichur to go to Raymond’s house, meet his daughter-in-law and granddaughter living there while his son was making money in Bangalore, be treated to yet another delicious meal and see Shiney, her husband and one of her sons yet once more. Than Raymond called us one by one into a room and gave us gifts—not from off his back, but shirts. I pulled out a JAZZ T-shirt from the Jazz Festival in Vittoria and gave it to him. A final hug goodbye with the same heaving sobs as when we reunited and back to the train to Kochi. Will we see each other again in this lifetime? At our age, we can’t wait another 32 years. We shall see.