I miss the earthy red-oxide flooring of our old house. The glow that the crimson red colour exuded with every passing year was simply a sight to behold. Every morning, the carpet like flooring, never ceased from throwing up a seamless wonder! I could see a clear reflection on the floor. We’ve lost this rich and traditional heritage.
A relative of mine, who was a famous Civil Engineer, once told me that red-oxide became less popular by the mid-70s as the skilled labourers who specialised in the oxide flooring work became extinct species.
By the late-70s, with the arrival of the multitude of flooring materials, red oxide fell out of popularity and was considered a poor man’s flooring. Mosaic was the in-thing in the ’80s, later to be replaced by ceramic tiles and marbles.
Coming back to the red-oxide, the flooring with a deep crimson hue was something unique to our house. Many visitors exclaimed at the richness and velvety gloss of the well-made floor. On a festive occasion, a rangoli drawn on this floor would look truly outstanding!
Each time the red-oxide floor was mopped, I would see the patterns formed when the water dried. The shiny floor with resplendent reds would enrich the hall. With my mother, I visited many houses which had a gleaming spread of the red-oxide floor in shades as cherry, ruby, crimson or scarlet.
There was a touch of infinity in the red-oxide flooring. With no lines or boxes, the joint-free seamless stretches with a uniform finish was a work of art, that I miss seeing today. There was no maintenance headaches. All that it asked for was a daily mop. As it aged, even a daily walk on a red-oxide floor was equal to an extra polish, thanks to the smooth friction!
Sometimes, oil would spill on this flooring. And when I rubbed it to wipe the oil off, that portion of the floor would look splendid as it shone beautifully. On the contrary, when lime juice fell, that area would whiten! Very sensitive, this red-oxide, just like my mother!
I miss both of them!
[My mother had cracks in her feet. She felt mosaic was more friendly for her. When we stayed for a short period in Ernakulam with mosaic flooring, the cracks vanished. It resurfaced when we came back.]