The inevitable question whenever I tell anyone I am from Kavalam - "Is it near Kavalam Narayana Panikker's house?"
And the usual reply, “Not really, you have to go slightly interior, across the river. But, I have seen his house” (Yeah, in movies, I add in my mind)
There is this old house opposite to ours, right across the river, which was said to belong to his family. From the time I can remember, one doctor or other used to stay there. The last one was there for almost ten years. He used to come out to the “kadavu” for an evening stroll everyday. We teased our grandmother saying her boy friend was out to see her. A few years back, when I went home, the house seemed to be empty. My mother said the person who sold the house to the doctor had cheated him and the property was in dispute. Kavalam’s family finally won it back and no one was staying there then. The house wore a deserted look for many a visit after that.
Went home a month back after a year. Whitewashed, neatly fenced, with a brand new ‘padippura’ , the house wore the typical look of an ancestral home. Seeing my questioning look, mummy said, “Guess who owns it - Kavalam Narayana Panikker. He is rarely there though.” During my one-month stay at home, I even saw him once, in his trademark ‘mundu’ and long jubba.
Now, if someone asks me the same question, I can reply non-chalantly, “Oh yeah, he stays right across to us.” (and add in my mind, ‘across the river’)