I left Vivian Villa when I was 6 years old. Never went back there. Even to visit.
'Vivian Villa' at Ambalamukku, Trivandrum was my first home. A splendid house with a nice green front yard. A compound gate opened to a long driveway which led to a black wrought iron gate. Opposite Vivian Villa was this magnificent multi storeyed building under construction. I played hide and seek with friends inside and around the construction site. Sandhya was my best friend. She lived next door - which was at an elevation with respect to Vivian Villa, right where the long driveway started. This was Vivian Villa as I remembered it.
My parents were barely making ends meet when we lived there. My mother was still doing her PhD and my Dad was definitely not as high up in the bank as he is today. But they talk so fondly of the wonderful times at Ambalamukku. And every time I hear them talk about it, my mind goes back to the splendid house and the long driveway and the evenings that I spent at the wrought iron gate waiting for my Dad's KLK 9269 Mark 2 Ambassador to come home!
Fast forward to January 2008. I'm at Trivandrum - now Thiruvananthapuram - again. Visiting my parents who have finally made their way back to TVM after all those years! Life has been through many a journey. Nostalgia strikes and I decide, after 18 long years I want to go see Vivian Villa. I want to go see that splendid house, that lovely front yard, the majestic driveway. One evening I set off on foot to revisit the wonderful place I once called home. It was growing dark, as I turned into the lane (where Vivian Villa was the last house on the right), I broke into a light jog. I was excited. I could see Sandhya's house and my mind's compass told me to turn right.
The compound gate stood in front of me. I couldn't see very well past it. As I went closer and looked in, the view that met my eye astounded me! My 'long' driveway was about 15 metres long. The 'magnificent multi storeyed building' was a house like any other in Trivandrum. There was another house that I did not recognize, or did I? The 'black wrought iron gate' and the 'lovely green front yard' was missing. In the utter confusion of the moment, I couldn't think straight. I felt as though someone who loved and trusted me had let me down. I suddenly felt alien to all the memories I had of this wonderful first home of mine! One final scan of the place for the slightest sign of familiarity and I was running - running away from the disappointment, running away from what I had so yearned to see. I didn't speak a word about my little expedition to my parents that night. I shut out the experience from my mind and fell asleep.
Fast forward to June 2008, another long night at lab and for some reason Vivian Villa came up in my mind again. I felt resentment, I felt like a hallucinating fool!
Vivian Villa was probably demolished. I will not and don't want to ever find out. Or probably it is still standing there in a completely unrecognizable form. It was not the house that was dear to me. It was the images I had in my mind about life there that I held so close to my heart. I went there hoping to relive the memories of playing hide and seek there, to relive the evenings I waited to see my Dad’s car turn into that magnificent driveway. To relive probably the oldest memories in my mind. But what I saw I couldn’t recognize or identify with and I’m left reeling ... But marveling at the wonders of the human mind!