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Friday, June 5, 2009

An autobiography of a middle class man - Chapter 6

Amma, the most beautiful

They say “God could not be there everywhere and so he created Mother. “ But to me, God was you. After the age of sixteen, when I started to think on my own, I never prayed to any God, never went to any temple, because, God was with me laughing, crying, fighting, loving, blessing and lived with me in every step of my life.
Even though you left me physically exactly two years ago on this date, even now,when the carpenter comes to do some work at home, electrician to attend some errand, you are there, and I was giving instructions to them as per your suggestions.Your involvement, in every activity of our life, continues to be there, and that is why
I do not believe that there is one thing called “death.” People whom we love and those who love us never die.

Only for those who believe in the body, not in soul, death happens.
It is from you, that I have learned to love all the human beings in the world and I will continue to do that as a legacy from you.. I will try to follow what all you taught me. But in a retired life, living with Prema alone, I am not doing anything except one lesson you taught me. That is to love everybody, whom I come across and help in what ever capacity I can. Instead of me writing about you, I wanted to hear about you this day from all your kith and kin and here are some of their comments, which we have not expressed in these words when you were with us.

This is what Prema ( my wife ) wrote:

I have lived with Amma for 37 years. I had the fortune of spending many moments with her in a happy, personal and intimate relationship through thick and thin. When I sit and think over what was my best days with her, I cannot think of any other time, except the entry of Arvind in our lives.
From the moment he was born until he was seventeen, all the three of us were dancing around him in the ecstacy of love. There was the rhyme and music of love of Arvind in what we thought, spoke and did in our everyday lives. The harmony in our actions could easily be compared to "thani avarthanam". We never came into clash with each other, on the other hand, we were always complimenting each other in the most unobtrusive manner. Amma's love for Arvind was so great, that, if she had one binding reason to strike a century here, it would be to nestle with him as and when possible. Who knows? She must be ready to charge into his and Pia's lives soon!

after seeing your mail I had a great opportunity to go to the thinking process of all my days with amma. I cherished the entire memories . With the grace of god we had fine relationship throughout . Please excuse my english comunication if it is not up to the mark.
I admire her ambition in making me a career woman . After sslc she was very particular in me learning typewriting and short hand . She came along with me and Vijaya to Mayuram for the type writing exams . As soon as the call came from Hyderabad for the Bank Test, she became very active to start to Hyderabad and managed everything so fast . When my first attempt failed in the Bank interview, she was very upset. Fortunately Vaidheesa was there, to help me to get the job. Then only she was relaxed. In my life too, the career has helped me to achieve whatever I could . This forethought of hers has done a great deal to me .
Though there is always her warmth participation in my life, I felt this ambition of hers made my life worth.
with love
Brindha ( my sister )

This note is presented by Raj ( my sister's husband)

Abundant love she shared with her sibilings upto 4 generations
Memory power she possessed leading to small details of incidents in her life
Most loved person not only by her children and grand /great grand children but also by
most members of relatives.
Authentic in the matter of marriage, thread ceremony, religious functions and her loss left
us a deep hollow for any such consultations

When I was asked to write about Paati, I thought where would I begin, how would I proceed and can I even end it. I realized it is very easy to write about oneself but not so easy to write about the most important person in your life. Yes, I said that in present tense as even today she is the most important person in my life.
Ok, where do I begin...........
There was a time(A long time) when I truly believed I could not live without her. A couple of things changed that perspective for me. The first obvious one was that life goes on and as you grow up you love a lot more people in the world than when you were younger. The second one was what Paati herself taught me and others, there are quite a few who love me and I need to live for them. For what she has gone thru in her life a lot of mere mortals like me would have given up much earlier, but she did not because she realized that there are others who needed her love and affection and will always return the same to her.
It has been two years since she has gone to heaven but for me she was heaven. Why? This is why,
As an infant I would refuse to eat or throw up after eating. Appa and amma left me with Paati and the result was there for all to see. From then till now she has always been and will be my guardian angel.
Whatever I did, however I fared in school, she never questioned me or scolded me. She always had this inner confidence that when time comes I will live upto her expectations and always believed that appa will not need to open a tea shop or I need to work for a mechanic.
All I needed was to study under her for 12 days to complete ICWAI and her magic worked on me too. A lot of people were surprised that 12 days was enough but they did not know Paati’s magic.
Not many people even today go to Chennai for Summer fun. For me that was and is still heaven.
Even the best time I would have with Appa would be linked to her. The day she goes back to Madras we would have a bonding time going to the movies(just the two of us).
Never once she hesitated to tell me stories of her life or any other story I might ask her for.
Can somebody stop these tears ……..
We all know where my passion for movies and music came from.
When I wanted to marry Renu all she did was see the photo and approve and was behind me supporting me like a rock along with Perima. Not because she liked or loved Renu(which she did later) but because it was something I wanted. During that phase when I lost weight and stopped listening to music, not one word was uttered to me, only Renu got “Yen peranai padithitea. Paatu kekkardhu koodea niruthitaan”.
Can somebody stop these tears ……..
I have never felt so happy and proud in my life as I felt when Siddharth and Paati repeated history again for one year in Belmont. That way he is the luckiest Kollu peran with Arvind being the luckiest peran. During that time I could visualize why I never wanted to go home with Appa in Chikkadpally even if I parked myself on some hot stuff on the stove.
My favorite
Movie – Mozhi
Food – Murugan Idly
City – Madras
Sweet – Sojji
Chocolate – Lindt

Pastime - Movies
Holidays – Summer
If I am reborn I would again be her grandson and may be next time from the Paternal side so that I will not need summer vacations to be with her.
As I said in the beginning I did not know where to start and where to end. I can go on and on and still only scratch the surface. For now I will forcibly stop myself so that I will again get the opportunity to write about Paati and cherish her life again.
One last word though. Whenever someone came up with bad news over the last 42 years Amma would fear that something is wrong with Paati’s health and my heart would skip a few beats. In the last two years none of this happens. On one hand I am happy that she is in heaven but on the other I would love to skip a few more heart beats knowing that she is still there for me…….
Can somebody stop these tears ……..
She was not only my Paati but Paati to all in my generation and the one after.
“We’re meant to lose the people we love. How else would we know how important they are to us”
– from Benjamin Button
As far as Paati is concerned I knew how important she was for me the moment she laid her eyes on me
Can somebody stop these tears ……..
To be continued…………
(Her Chella Peran)
(my sister's son)

Paati to me personifies patience. Every time I loose it (and I have the time to ponder) I think about Paati. She will always remain my source of inspiration on this and many more aspects of life. ( from Anandhi - my sister's daughter)

Hello periappa,
Hoz u … thank u for the reminder. Regarding the most memorable incident with patti would be, the day she landed in chennai to attended my son’s punyajanam ( Feb 01, 2002) against all odds. It showed her strong relationship & love for her great grandson. That day she taught me that If you are right…. Fight for it boldly… no matter if the whole world is against you. Nothing is greater than Love is what she showed in action.

Last but not the least….. what ever I’m today after the birth of my son is ‘cause of her. It was her special care in seeing that I had the right diet so that I gained my physical & mental strength for take on with life further.
For sure I really miss her for Braddy’s b’day, grand old lady of our family.

With luv
Ramya.( My brother's daughter)

Dear Mama,

Here are some of my thoughts:

My conversations with Paati would always be like banter, chit-chat and always tinged with some mischief, always teasing each other and repartees on either side. I don't remember ever having a serious conversation with her! I mean it was not always like that, but for the most part it was like talking with a friend. I know she considered me to be a non-stop talker and would say that I am a big loddu – loddu. (he means loda loda) There were periods in the 90s when she would come and stay in Bombay for extended periods, which were the times I got to know her the best. Most of the days it will only be me, Amma and paati (as Anna would be working late or traveling) and the conversations between mother and daughter, especially their fights would be very entertaining!

The best part of Paati - and I would say the same for Amma - is how progressive she was in her thinking, and very open minded. And I can vouch for that from seeing other older people (like my friends parents, grandparents) who would still cling on to things from the past and let that cloud their thinking. I would say that came from the amount of reading Paati did and for that I would have to thank her. For, because she realized the importance of reading ,that it was passed on to her children who in turn inculcated their children with this habit.

Another thing that I came to admire about Paati is despite all the hardships that she had gone through in life, you would never hear her complain or whine about it even once. I wish I could be even a little bit like that. And the best part of course were the stories that she would tell me about the village and our family history, stories about her father, grandfather, some cousin who owned a shop and refused credit, another uncle who would throw chappals at his wife and many more.
Abhi ( My elder sister's son )

When Hari mama asked me to write down a few things about Paati that touched me the most. I thought, that is easy, and said that I will have it out to him as soon as possible. It has been a week I think, and I am still lost as where to start.
I lost my grandparents( both mom’s and dad’s) very early in my childhood . I havent had the fortune of enjoying the unconditional love and caring of a grandparent and Paati filled that void with more than I had ever expected. She accepted me as her own grandchild and showered me with her love and affection.
She was engaged with me 100% whenever we had a conversation and remembered every single detail and followed up if there was a need to. She showed that she really cared with her gestures and actions.
She taught me how to cook. Yes, from the basics; Cooking 101 lessons J . She was a great cook and I soon became her Sishyaii. I soon realized I had a passion for cooking and she encouraged me and would gladly and fearlessly taste my recipes. She was my first fan and I was thrilled about it.
She was always quick to laugh and always blessed that I keep smiling at all times.
She has captured many a hearts including my mom’s and my children’s. I am truly fortunate that my kids ,my husband and I have some wonderful, priceless memories of their great grandmother, our grandmother “ Pattu Paati” – the one and only !!!
Renu- ( Sendhil's wife )

How do I even start writing a few sentences on someone who has shaped me to be who I am? For the 17 years that I was at home, she was a constant presence - staying up with me when I was studying, waiting for me with my favorite dishes as I returned from school, taking me to Hyderabad and Bombay for each vacation ensuring that even though I was an only child, I would stay connected to her other grandchildren who would be more like siblings than cousins - I could go on forever. Even after I left home, nothing seemed to change - she was always there waiting for me whether I was returning from the IIT hostel or from the US.

My last conversation with her will remain an enduring memory. I was leaving for the US the next day and as usual we stayed up late into the night, talking. It had been a rough year and I felt that my career was in a rut. I had finally quit my job and was unsure of what I would do next. I was probably depressed but did not realize it at that time. We talked for a long time and I'm not sure she completely understood what I was saying. These were problems of a different generation - one that had the luxury of an urban, middle class upbringing, one that took for granted things that she could not even dream of. Yet in her own way, she made me realize that I had to act to change the situation. No one else was going to do it for me. I guess that was her parting gift.

by Arvind ( my son )

I thank you all for sharing your thoughts with me on this day,which gave me a feeling as though I was sitting with you and discussing about her. I share some more photos, which will bring her memories to our other relatives also.

Amma with four generations: Brindha is the only child of her, who has given this honour

Amma with her two sisters and a brother. She had one elder brother and three younger brothers, other than these two sisters

She would have asked any of us, without any hesitation, to sacrifice our life for Babu's sake

The two souls ( Amma and sister Saroji) who loved me a lot with the soul I love most.

Amma with Sushil ( My elder sister's son). She was always very proud of him.
Blogger chitra said...
This is from her niece who enjoyed her company many a time during my holidays in Madras and her stay in Mumbai.I always looked up to her for the way she loved one and all from the oldest to the youngest in our huge family. Like Abhi said her progressive thinking was experienced by me and Shakti in Hyderabad when we had all got together for Diwali in 1984. It was Thalaiyur Patti's shradham and Perima and Babu Mama together had decided not to perform it that year as Shakthi was with me (nonbrahmin).Their explanation was we would make the living happy then pleasing the dead soul. I would like to live like her, enjoy life to the fullest and go the way she went enjoying every moment with all her loved ones. Truly a happy soul she is. with love chitra ( her sister Anu's daughter)
June 6, 2009 11:02 AM