My grandmother on my father’s side was raised in a tiny village in the south of India. Growing up, I listened to her stories about relatives and friends, friendship and betrayal, roosters and tigers (roamed in sugarcane fields), that place she endearingly called her hometown.
This summer, I took a road trip with my family to my ancestral village. We drove past palm tree groves, sunflower fields, wildflowers, rice paddies, and lakes. In the vicinity of our destination, foreign birds perched on electrical wires and long-legged cranes stood on sand banks. A native parakeet and a couple of squirrels happily shared the grains scattered on a rock. Goats and bullock carts passed by us on the road. A few hours later, we drove into the village surrounded by verdant hills.
As our SUV squeezed through the alley and stopped in front of my grandmother’s humble cottage, I noticed a row of small houses with tile roofs and colorful doors—some vibrant colors, others muted. At the end of the alley was an old temple. A small kitten meowed near our car as if to welcome us. A few neighbors who knew my family came out to greet us. The house in which my grandmother had once lived had fallen into disrepair but the coconut tree, the sandalwood tree and the jasmine tree stood strong in the backyard. The sweet scent of jasmine wafted through the door as a reminder of a bygone time.
Funnily enough, on our way back, I saw a rainbow. I imagined that to be my grandmother Sundara (means beautiful and beautiful she was) smiling because her grandkids and great-grandkids finally got to see her very own home.