Anilaadum Mundril – loosely translated as A Foyer Where Squirrels Play – is a wonderful trip down the memory lane. Especially, if you grew up in the state of Tamil Nadu. This is a wonderful book on relationships written by the late Tamil lyricist, Na. Muthukumar. I have always liked Na. Muthukumar for his poetic usage of the language in the Tamil movie songs. This is the first time I read his prose though. Even his prose is poetic.

The book is a collection of essays on all the relationships in a joint family starting from Mother, following up with Father, Elder Brother, Younger Brother, Elder Sister, Younger Sister, Stepmom, Grandfather, Grandmother, Maternal uncles, Maternal Aunts, Paternal Uncle, Paternal Aunts, Maternal Cousins, Paternal Cousins, Wife and ending with Son. The author has expressed his thoughts on each of these relationships through his experiences when he grew up. Every one of these essays brought back some memories of my childhood and my relatives. The relatives that I have come far away from. 

This book is an easy read with 140 odd pages. Three things that I realized after reading this book:

  1. I miss the family relationships. 90% of my relatives are in Tamil Nadu. I am the only one in Pune. We are nuclear now but I grew up amidst a lot of relatives. Especially, the summer vacations used to be in my parent’s village with a lot of people who were interested and were interesting to talk to. Phone calls and video calls do not and cannot replace in-person communication.
  2. I miss reading in my mother tongue Tamil. Every year, I make sure I read at least one book in Tamil. And whenever I read, it is always an easy read without having to strain or struggle. Reading and comprehension time is much much faster than reading a book in English although it has been the official language all my life. Like every year, I regret not reading more Tamil books this year too.
  3. I should start noting down all the memories that pop up at various times. Someday, they might make a wonderful reading for myself or my children. And I should type it and not write it for my handwriting is flatter than a dead man’s ECG.