A visit to Pilerne, Bardez, Goa
Yes, a caretaker is in place, but Bhujang who has been with us for 12 years already, will only clean and air, keep the little garden lush and green and alert us about the marauding cousin who though in his 70’s, shamelessly tries to steal our land. All repairs from the roof to the plumbing we have to see to, when we visit.
So, we go down and employ labour to handle whatever needs immediate attention. This time I felt the house needed a good lick of paint and so did the inside Dining/kitchen area. The clotted cream walls, I got rid off, for the more pristine white and what a difference it made to the place.My eyes are not great, so white helps bounce light off the walls for me.
LED tube lights gave the area a brighter, more happy white light by which we sat and ate our meals which I had cooked on the single gas stove.We want to eat kgs of fresh prawns, not one or two swimming in a weak curry at a restaurant. We enjoy the luxury of large king prawns bought from the fish market in Verem.Then I sit in the garden and clean them peacefully, with the Golden Orioles calling from the teak trees above and the harsh Coal Black Drongo checking me out from the nearby breadfruit tree.
The woman who lives on the side who is a descendant of the original help, who were graciously given a hut on the land has begun to steal as well. The previous time we visited she had cut down 6 teak trees in the back and quietly sold them. Plus by fixing a pump to the well she had loosened the stone walls which had collapsed.
Time to fence and enclose. The previous visit we had got the surveyor to measure the property and colour our plots. Then on our way back from Mapuca we bought and transported by van 15 cement concrete poles along with a bag of cement and we fixed up the labour for the next day.
While we brought the poles home, the men dug the holes and the pillars were sunk. I don't know if it's a wrong decision, but no wire was fixed, because the woman had put down fruit trees on our property. I felt bad to enclose her trees, which were really ours now, because the papayas were fruiting.
We have been trying to exchange the plots with her but to no avail. We hoped by fixing these poles they would force her hand when she saw the alienation. And how much of ‘her’ garden was ‘lost’. I want to enclose the house lands as those for us were the most valuable, not in terms of land value, but attachment to the homestead. If the next generation sells they sell all the house lands and the next generation can have clean partitions to sell as one parcel.
The drumstick tree was beginning to affect the house from one side. Guess it was Dad who had planted it, the dratted tree had turned into a monster with its roots going under the house. We got a strong, old man to cut it down and amazingly he handled it so well just with a hand held chopper. Those laterite walls are solid but seeing the well crumble I was taking no chances.
The carpenter had to be hurriedly called, because the back door was collapsing. Whiteants had chewed away one part of the frame. We opened the door and one door just fell forward, giving me a huge fright. Those doors are massive and heavy with six inch nails holding them in place.
One window was on the ground, probably fallen in the rain. So the carpenter had to fix both. In minutes he brought a large slab of wood for the frame and with his electric tools champhored and repaired everything in a few hours. Electric saws, electric champhor, even an electric screwdriver! The 300 year old house probably had never seen such modern tools.
Then we rested for one day with no labour at all. Just the birds for company and a trip to the beach to sink our feet into the inviting ocean waves in Candolim. I fussed the garden, feeding all the trees prawn and fish shells. I scrub the alphonso grafts planted last year with soap as they have got a bit of fungus. I chatted with the neighbour ladies who all come to pick the fruit which fall in the garden from the fruit tree planted by my Grandpa. They bring the statue of Our Lady to keep in the house for a day and say the rosary.
“ Your father loved this house so much,” they will all say in turns every time and we recite the rosary for my ancestors all looking down at us from the walls. I pray that they swat down the cheap inlaws I have who are harassing me. They will -- in time. And I ask all to pray for my poor mother who is lingering, that God in his begininness may see her suffering and end it.
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