The first time I met her was somewhere in the pocket roads in our village-the road leading to the river...with some luggage in her hand, in the traditional malayali off-white attire, the tall and fat lady in her early seventies, with a boy’s haircut,with her loud laugh, spreading light and warmth around like a candle, with her innocent smile -least to say, I loved her pleasant aura! :)What I still wonder is on her cosmopolitan outlook towards life, though she has never spent any part of her life in cities!! She enjoys the emotional freedom and a kinda spirituality which is really a phenomenal one!Her name is Baby- a widow- quite alone in her life but with some distant relatives. She stays alone in a small house beside the river.The first encounter with her occurred when we-myself, Anju, Ranju,Aswathy and Manikkuttan – visited the old temple beside the river. The temple was near to an Illam(a malayali Brahmin house) and it needs only 10-15 minutes of walk from our home to reach there.That is a Krishna temple, but well known for the powerful Ganesha deity there!! The convenient negligence of Devaswam made several bushes to survive in the temple premises-even in the ‘pradakshina patha’. But I really love that eco-system with the greenery very rare these days..The smell of various unknown ayurvedic plants and the sound of the river flowing( there are many rocks in that area) would take us in to some heavenly peace!That day when we came out of the temple, this old lady was standing outside collecting some ayurvedic plants..She was in a traditional mallu village attire, but her innocent smile with bundles of energy in it attracted me to her. She asked us:”You belong to which house?”I, the eldest in the group mentioned our housename in the certificates!!The lady failed to figure out the same..Seeing her jogging her memory, my brother Manikkuttan broke the ice..”We are from Naaga-yakshi-pparampu”!!----- story behind this is: There was a sarppakavu(snake-god’s abode) in my dad’s ancestral home, which villagers respected a lot!That was relocated to our family temple during my Dad’s childhood, as one of the uncles wanted to possess that land!And thus was the name ‘Naagayakshipparampu’(meaning ‘the place where snake goddess lives’)---We wondered how this guy came to know bout all these…yes!!He always did beat me in commonsense!!The old lady’s face lit –up!! “Wow!! My sweet boy!! Good, children ….we are distant relatives!!”Manikkuttan had his head touching the sky, beeming with such a self confidence and proud of the admiration from a stranger! He looked us like a winner! I felt envy of him...and it turned to a proud feeling that my brother is jus a smart boy!!JWe narrated the story at home and Mom and grandma admired Manikkuttan..Mom told” This lady is a very nice character and I am seeing her for the first time when she visited us in that hospital the time Manikkuttan was born”!I started noticing that different confident personality from those days!Then I met her in many social gatherings in our village like housewarming ceremonies, marriages etc..Yes , we gradually developed a kinda emotional attachement, though differ by ages!!Whenevr we met, I adored her for her loud laugh and friendly disposition.A sympathy towards an old lady staying alone was overruled by the admiration towards an energetic , buoyant, knowledgeable, diplomatic old lady.It was two days after Vishu. This lady came home asking whether I am there to talk. Seeing me,She was happy saying”oh my dear sweetgal, its long we have met…”She spent around one hour at our home, chatting with my Mom, Grandma and me. I gave her my ‘Vishukkaineettam’. The lady was happy and blessed me.Another day , when I was back home after office, my mom told the lady has kept some books for me to read. Yeah, that was named ‘Neethisaaram’..!J I finished reading the book this morning- a really great collection of thoughts relevant for all ages and all times indeed!Now I got from where she is getting this much confidence in life. She is a voracious reader!!J Heard that she was a great dancer too at her times! A really admirable personality, whose friendship I treasure!!