{ Originally written on July 1, 2008 for Kazhak Times.}

Of adventures in the Sainik School Campus

I have received a couple of emails from OBs, mostly youngsters regarding Piggery Ammavan’s daughter. Some of them seem to have missed out on her existence in the campus during their tenure. First of all, I don’t know why people are asking ME that question. Please, let me make it very clear here, I am in no way attached to her by any means and I had no connection with piggery Ammavan’s family or the pigs. As a matter of fact, Pork is “Haram” (prohibited) for me and I don’t eat it, unless accompanied with alcohol. But I am happy to introduce piggery Ammavan’s daugter to those ‘new’ Old Boys who ate plenty of pork but never bothered to find out who fed them and took care of them. This is just for a general awareness purposes only.

Our campus was blessed with a few mythical characters, just like Vaikom Mohammed Basheer’s characters Aanavari Raman Nayar and Ponkurishu Thoma. Piggery Ammavan happens to be one of them who has captured our curiosity and influenced us as sources of fun. Then, there was also our Dhobiwala, whose below-the-hips area looked rather like an ‘O” and he used to walk as if he was on springs.

Another one would be the Cadets’ Mess manager Veera Pandya “Katta Bomman” who had a brutal sense of honesty especially when it came to food. As recalled my one of my batchmates, anytime a student found a worm in the rice and went to him with a complaint, he would examine the worm (resting in peace on top of the rice and sambar) and say “eda, its dead already, no need to worry.. if its alive, you don’t have to worry at all, it will just crawl away“.

While on the subject, its worth mentioning that, in our days, spotting the worm in the rice on-time before it reached the mouth, required real talent. Worms are usually yellowish in color and can be spotted on white rice with little effort, but once the rice is mixed with sambhar it makes it really hard to spot those buggars. The multi-tasking involved in eating the food and constantly scanning for the alien creatures have helped many of our students who made it to the defense forces while carrying out counter-terrorist operations. Then, there were those days when we were served with yellow rice which was a deliberate attempt by the Mess manager to blind us from this worm hunt. One of my good friend gave-up complaining about the worms and used to keep them away on one side of the plate as he found them, along with all branches and bushes in the sambhar (also known as vegetables in some countries) , and he used to continue eating. But the problem was that, sometimes he used to get so engrossed in conversation and would start nibbling on these side dishes and at the end look at his empty plate and wonder where the worms disappeared.

Getting back to Piggery Ammavan.

One could find him after the meal times in the Mess hall, collecting left overs in a big can. Then he and his daughter would carry these on their head to the piggery to be fed to the pigs. Ammavan’s daughter was this girl in her mid 20’s, tall and dark, a typical image of kuttanadan shaleena soundaryam – long hair, beautiful dark eyes. She did look malnourished though and hence I have strong feeling that, if she had the opportunity to be fed on proper food, she would have become another Jayabharathi ! Who knows ! Nevertheless, she conquered the attention of teenagers more than any other girl in the Sainik School Campus (day-scholars girls, forgive me, its true. We loved you all, but only like our sisters. More over, you girls wore khaki, its not even a color ! Hate to say this, sorry…but we remember you girls whenever we see our lady Police Officers).

Jaya Bharathy in Rathinirvedam - 1978
Jayabharathy – For academic reference purposes only.

I have noticed the way piggery Ammavan’s daughter looked at us, I could sense that, she hated us. Of course she would have. We were the “kashmalanmar” who ate up her pets on many special occasions such as Bada Khanas and those Vice – Admiral visits. Poor girl, she must have had phobia whenever she heard a chopper swirling by. Anyways, piggery Ammavan’s daughter was a feast to the eyes . I never got the opportunity to ask her name because I was aware of the risk with Ammavan next to her with can full of left-over from the mess. But, boys used to watch her walk away to the piggery carrying the can on her head, swaying her hips, left, right, left, right – yes, you could say that over and over as she marched away with the perfect timing of her steps, and I tell you even sakshal Capt Louis George wont be able to march with that kind of timing !

This is the end of my intro and I swear, that’s all I know. If anyone is still curious about her whereabouts, their family doctor is around, he is listening.

As an end-note; one of the promising poets in the campus had written a song about piggery Ammavan and his daughter as a parody to the famous KPAC songambili ammaava, thaamara kumbilil enthundu…” I can’t remember the lines and I would like to call upon other OBs who could recollect this. It starts like this, “Piggery Ammavaa, thalayile veeppayil enthaanu?”

Ambili Ammava from KPAC.


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