Today on 14th December, both my sisters were born, and today I celebrate for one and mourn for the other. Similarly, her death anniversary falls on the day her grandson was born. Perhaps even after her death she did not want me to suffer/or feel sorry on any day.
She was four years elder to me, and in our childhood, we did not live together much. Since, my grandmother (father’s mother) was a “real” mother in law to my mother, who got married at the age of fifteen and conceived and gave birth to my sister, in the very next year. Life was miserable to my mother, and she continued to stay with my maternal grandparents, after she came home for delivery of my sister. Thalaiyur, which was hardly two kilometers away from my father’s place Pavattakkudi, was home for my sister from childhood.
She never met my father for four years, and so, she was very much attached to my grandparents, uncles and aunts. After persuasions by elders, and promises given by my father, my mother went back to Pavattakkudi and continued the life with my father. In the process, she conceived and delivered me next, followed by a younger sister and brother to me.
I do not remember anything of my younger day’s life with my elder sister, since she continued to grow with my maternal grandparents, even after my mother went back to our home. Then she proceeded with my maternal grandmother to Mayavaram for her studies along with her cousins. I also went to Mayavaram to continue my school education. There were about seven or eight of us living under the supervision of my grandmother, and so there were no chances for very intimate or personal moments with my elder sister, except that she was my elder sister. The relationship in the group was uniform and special attachments were not visible as all of us moved as brothers and sisters.
After, few years, since all my senior cousins completed their high schools, it was decided to close down the establishment at Mayavaram, since the number is dwindled. My sister Saroji, after completing S.S.L.C at Girls High School, Mayavaram went to Hyderbad, along with my aunt (chiththi – Mother’s sister) to go for some job, as we were not financially well off.
I vaguely remember, any intimate relationship with my elder sister, even though we were very much attached to each other, and she was very supportive of me in that big group of youngsters. I remember her learning carnatic music. Also I remember once she dressed like Lord Budhdha in a fancy dress competition in her school. That dress and she, sitting like Budhdha, is still in my memory as a photo, even today I can see that before my eyes. ( This pose was always in my memory, and used to make me forget her agitated moods, by coming into my mind)
She went to Hyderabad, and I went to my native place to continue my high school studies at Peralam. So another five years we were separated except meeting in summer vacations. Even then, she used to come and stay at Thalaiyur only along with my aunt’s children and uncles with my grandparents, since she had an aversion for my father. She developed an animosity towards my father, since she felt that my father did not protect my mother from the ill treatments given by my paternal grandmother. There was also a great psychological impact in her mind that my mother left her with my grandparents, and did not keep her with herself and looked after her. The childhood turmoil of her life made her to be a revolting child towards my parents, and her behaviours on account of that towards others warranted punishments from my mother quite often. These incidents further alienated her from my parents and her adolescent life was not very pleasant. She did not get full attention from my parents, and she had to live always as second citizen at my grandparents as well as Chiththi’s house, and the deprival of love and affection in her childhood and living with others at the adolescent age have played a major role in the formation of her character
Realisation of this aspect came to me after I became sixteen, and at the age of 18 I wrote a “Kural” குறள் in this respect.
அருமை மக்களை அயலாரிடமனுப்புதல் அழியா
வறுமை எனினும் வேண்டற் பாற்றன்று.
( Deputing your children to others is unwarranted even if you were in most difficult poverty)
My sister Saroji, was very intelligent and industrious and she wanted to work hard and help our poor family by going for a job. She learnt comptometer ( a machine used in seventies in offices for accounting purposes) and also got a job. She was twenty one when I went to Hyderbad. She was very matured, understood the implications of our family sufferings, very much interested in helping the family to come up as she was the eldest daughter. During the period, we lived together in Hyderabad, which was once again cut short due to some unexpected developments, we developed an intimacy, understanding, which blossomed into a great Sister- brother relationship between us.
When I reached Hyderabad, to continue my college studies, she was already employed in a small company as a comptometer assistant. We developed lot of intimacy. After coming from college, I will go to her office and wait outside, until she leaves her office, and walk down about three kilometers. We were talking for hours together in the evenings about us, our family, and our relatives and how to come up in life. She had lot of dreams,and most important one was, that she should make our parents live very comfortably with all luxuries in life. She wanted to work hard and even prepared to work overtimes to earn more money so that she can send as much as possible to our parents. She was dreaming that once I complete my graduation, we both will work and earn lot of money to make our parents happy. The poverty, the suffering of our family on account of poverty, which she came to know only after discussions with me, went very deep in her heart, and she resolved that she will sacrifice everything to make all of us very happy. Her aversion towards my father was also changing, and she repented that she hated him and she wanted to make good of the strained relation. (Mind you she never spoke to my father until then.) She even decided that she will postpone, the marriage as many years as possible, to work and earn and make us happy. This decision created problem immediately to us, and she was forced to resign her job within two months and sent to our native place.
That was a big setback to all our plans, and we were in a shock as all our dreams were shattered. Even though my mother wanted my sister to continue in the job, she was helpless as my auntie and uncle were not prepared to keep her in Hyderbad.
In that short period, I understood a lot about her. How she suffered in her life. How much she was longing for love from us, which she could not experience due to various circumstances, was well understood by me, and I decided that in rest of our life, I will have no other business except showering my love towards her.
Her actions, which were misunderstood by people, were perfect to me, because, I could understand why she reacts in that way under the given circumstances, which is not acceptable by others. My support and love to her was well understood by her, and she believed that I am the only person who loved her without any difference of opinion on her actions and feelings. When everybody misunderstood her, I can understand, how justified her feelings were. She, in fact, loved everybody who came across in her life, and she will go all out to help them. There are incidents; she went out of the way to help people. She appeared, to many people as miser, but she spent all her money on those she loved. She will save money by being herself restricted on spending, but she will spend on others without any restrictions. Every pie she saved, she has seen them are converted as a jewel to my mother. All the jewels my mother was wearing at the time of her death were given by my sister. She loved me more than anybody else in her life and I never wanted to live after her death. But I still exist, by suffering her absence in every moment of our life. I always wonder, Why I did not die, the moment I heard the news of her death and how could I survive so long. I always feel guilty and feel, perhaps she would have done that had the death happened to me first.
I feel that death did not come to me, because, I should give the love, what her children are missing now. That is what she would have wished.
She was great character, and her life will be interesting for many women to learn many things, particularly, loving people without getting/expecting much from them. The only curse was, she was taken away from us, when she had every chance of enjoying her life, with what she missed throughout her life. I will be writing a lot about her in this autobiography, because she played very important role in my life through out. Saroji! I am not able to mourn on your death anniversary any more, because, your grandson Ayaan is born on this day. Now, I will cherish your birthdays always, as they are one of the very important days in our life. Because this is the day a lady was born to prove to the world, to what extent one can love a brother. And I will love to live for more number of years to spread this news.