Racket Boy – An autobiography by Philip George

India Backshadowing: Passage Through Pamba

From the days when the boat was the only means of getting across to the other side, I’ve always looked forward to the mighty Pamba River on each visit to my parents’ ancestral homes in the district of Pathanamthitta, Kerala.

I carry fond memories of fishing and swimming on the Pamba’s various channels with my cousins and my favourite maternal granduncle, Kochappan. The Pamba courses through familiar childhood playgrounds: Vadaseerikkara, Ranni, Ayroor, Kozhencerry, Chengannur and Perunad, the scenic hill well-known for its cash and fruit crops such as rubber, pepper, coconut, tapioca and banana.

As a young boy, Kochappan would take me on bumpy bus rides to his small shop in Perunad. The Pamba looked best viewed from high up Perunad, especially while listening to Kochappan filling me in on stories and legends associated with this sacred river of Kerala. My family too has had its own history intertwined with Pamba’s waters. My sick grandfather (kochappan’s brother) was travelling in a boat on the way to the hospital when he took his last breath on the Pamba, a river venerated as the Ganga of Kerala by Sabarimala devotees of Lord Aiyappa, and where it is believed the Apostle Saint Thomas had travelled.

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