Early morning is my favourite time of the day. I get up at 5. Earlier I set the alarm, but now I wake up at that time instinctively. I hope to wake up a little later on Sundays but it does not happen 😊. I enjoy my early morning work-out and recite Adityahrudaya while doing my exercises. It is a prayer to the Sun God. More than thirty years ago, my mother’s friend told me about these shlokas. I learnt them. They are a very important part of my mornings. It is dark and quiet outside. Though, on some days our neighbours’ dogs start barking as soon as day breaks. He said he ties them at night and they bark their heads off in protest. And early mornings they bark because they want to be freed😊. I don’t know whether we will miss their protests when they outgrow this phase.
I like looking at darkness giving way to light. I feel it is symbolic of light at the end of a dark tunnel. Then I hear the birds. I will not forget those mornings many years ago when I could hear the Whistling Thrush. I have never seen that bird and its whistle startled me the first time. It was a beautiful sound. Unfortunately, we no longer hear it.
This morning we drove to our village in Kerala to spend a day with my husband’s brother. When we leave early, we can see beautiful sunrises over the rivers and backwaters that we cross on the way. We had a nice time and returned home in the evening.
My father-in-law lived most of his 95 years there. He was an agriculturist. His days too started early. He always ate boiled rice conjee along with a curry or rasam in the mornings. He said eating that preparation gave him enough energy for the day. He ate his morning food by 7.30 and was in the fields before the workers came there. He returned at 12.30 for lunch and left at 3.30 and remined in the fields till sundown. He followed this routine when plenty of labourers were available to work the fields and areca plantation. This was till the early 1990s. Later on, for many reasons labour became a major problem.
Some of the workers came to the cowsheds near the house to give water and food to the cows. They were often given cooked horse gram, it’s stock and boiled jackfruit during jackfruit season. I make horsegram rasam often. We all like it. Horsegram chutney is a favourite side dish in Udupi. Then the cows were let loose to roam the hills and valleys to graze. They always returned home in the evenings.
When I see cows returning home in the evenings, I remember the very popular folksong/story, Punyakoti. It is about an honest cow, its calf and a tiger. The story has been heard by generations of people and is still popular. It is an emotionally rich song but now I feel we tend to accept so much without questioning the substance of the narrative. How can anything be completely black and white? There are always shades of grey.