The paddy fields stretched in front of my ancestral home at Kayamkulam in Kerala had a deep impact on my life. They determined my seasons, provided my sustenance and gave me my play fields and toys, rain or shine. Their earth and water were part of my very being. Their changing moods were a constant delight to the eyes. A riot of colours adorned those fields in every season: green when the plants were young; golden-yellow when the paddy pods made their heads bow; and grey when the harvest was over. My brothers and I swam in the muddy waters and fished when they were flooded, and rolled on the sand in the dry season as we struggled to keep our kites afloat. We grew up as the sons of the soil.
Our home itself was a sprawling ...