Amma, even today Ranga reminds me
how upset I was when he hinted that all could not be well with you when you had
one of your earlier bouts of sickness. You made me come a long way from this
that when your end came, I did not even have tears in my eyes. You were my
spiritual guru right from my childhood, imparting bits and pieces of
philosophical truths sprinkled in the various stories you have told me, be it
stories of Mahabharata or neighbourhood, was missing right from the day you
lost your father figure, Thatha! You gave enough time for this fact to sink in.
We all understood very well that you were the backbone
of our family and Appa could not take any decision even on something as simple
as coffee or tea, but this truth hit us badly when you fell sick and Appa was
lost. Despite this, we thought that Appa will outlive his wife like Thatha did.
But I think from above, you observed him and decided to call him to you in a
matter of three months! Maybe you decided that no one can take care of him like
you did? Maybe you understood that he was lost without you?
Amma, when I think of you now, I
recall your sick self of the last 2-3 years, to the point that I tell my
sisters, I am not so upset about Amma’s departure as I remember only her
sickness. Now I am going to recall your greatness point by point in this
Annapoorani, wasn’t that your
nick name given by all known to you? How many times we have heard people, be it
family, friends, Thatha’s clients, distant relatives, neighbours, strangers,
etc etc, say that they can never leave our house on an empty stomach? How Thatha’s client Lakshmi mami used to say that whenever she refused the food you
offered, she had to starve that day? Not just feeding people at home, for how
many people you have packed food and sent/taken to their homes!
Amma, I don’t think I can get
your business acumen at all! Your business ranged from diamonds to pickles with
various types of clothes and accessories in between!
Your ever smiling face - have I
ever seen you sulking over things? It was always “vettu onnu thundu rendu” straight to the point. Point out a
person’s fault and then forget and forgive!
Enterprising - you learnt this
quality very well from Paati. For Appa and your hardworking nature, if you had
begun a wedding planning business early in life, you would have been Number One
in this business!
Duty - I think you learnt this
mantra from Appa, but you followed him ditto in this path. You did your duties not just to your daughters, your father-in-law, your mother-in-law, your
brother-in-law but to the extended family of siblings of your in-laws! My
relationship with Ranga’s Paati grew only because I have heard how you did
things for your mother-in-law’s mother!
Despite being a vakil, Thatha always asked you to speak
to people if a point had to be conveyed or instructions to be given clearly and
precisely without wasting time. I always
recall this quality of yours when I need to do this and try to imitate you!
Fearless - you never hestitated
to drive a point home whether it is somebody big or small. I don’t think I can
ever be as fearless as you were.
Hardworking - Amma I feel you
became sick overworking for this family! The number of times you used to run to
the shops in the neighbourhood and also cater to the needs of others not taking
enough care of yourself, made you sick!
I recall lying next to you as a small
child in the hall of Ranganathan Street house.
I recall you taking me to school,
pakkathu school first and corporation school later. It was always you who took
care of school admission, fees, complaints, etc as Appa was ever busy with his
You also had the time to accompany your mother-in-law
to the never ending trips be it a casual visit or wedding or death or any other
occasion in the family / extended family / friends / neighbours / thatha’s
clients etc etc!
Every shopkeeper on Village Road right
from Majestic Medicals, Khaleel Stores, Rahman Stores, TUCS, Velan Stores, maavu
machine, Salam Stores, paper kadai, Alif Fancy, Gautam Jewellers, Canara Bank, TNSC
Bank, Suprabath Hotel, pookadai, vetrilaikadai, vegetable shop and even the Police
Station knew you and Paati and thought for a very long time that you were
mother and daughter!
I recall that you knew all the
bus routes and most of the main roads in the main parts of Chennai and could
direct people well. I don’t think I have this knowledge even now. Ask Ranga and
he will tell you that I am really bad at this.
I recall that you only took us to
movie theatres and beach all the time and Appa always met us at the respective
venues straight from office. I wonder how you timed the arrival precisely in
those mobile phoneless times and travelling by public transport!
I recall asking you in awe, how
you roast the appalam on fire without hurting your fingers and you assuring me
that it will come with practice! Amma, I still love cooking in iyachombu and kalchatti learning from you!
I recall you making tiny round dosas
for me and this has now developed to different animal-shaped dosas with
guidance from Sundari!
I recall the sugared chappathis
you used to make for me - chappathis sprinkled with sugar!
I recall the nila saapadu we used
to have almost on all days with you serving all the daughters or better still
make us all sit in a circle and gave us spoonfuls of curd rice with vathakuzhambu or pickle. It never made a
difference to you if Anu or Nalini or any other friend joined us in this, they
were also your daughters!
I recall how you followed Paati’s instruction
with regard to the quantities to be cooked, but always increased it slightly
without her knowledge to ensure there is plenty for all your children and the
ever unexpected guests! You ensured food was never short in our home.
I recall how you used to ask us
to be kind to Paati when we were a bit irritated with her for her attitude with
I recall how you used to not
restrict Paati eating pickles or drinking Rasna stating that we should give
some allowance to old age.
I recall how you used to play
cards with Thatha almost every evening with one of us joining you occasionally.
I also recall how you used to
argue with Thatha on many occasions, but in the next half hour make him his
favourite “rava upma” with ginger, perungayam and a little extra ghee.
You always said rava upma is faster than the 2-minute
noodles if one has roasted rava ready, which you always had. I totally agree with this!
I also recall your hesitation to
stay in the hospital when Gokul was born stating that you were a bit sick of
hospital stay. Should we have taken it as the first sign of your failing health?
Losing Thatha made you lose
everything in life, after all, you lost your own father at the age of 16 and Thatha was your father after that,
showing his support on many occasions when you had issues with Paati! But Amma,
the Annapoorani, the expert cook forgetting how to cook was a big shock for us!
Still Amma you came back to normalcy a bit and tried to keep a cheerful front
but your sickness did not allow you much! To repeat what I said above, I take
your sickness as the time for me to accept your departure. If you had not given
me this time and passed away suddenly, I don’t think I could have accepted it.
like a Christian, looks like a
Brahmin”. “Well... I am a Brahmin and it
is not a sin.” Most of the people who knew my dad would have heard this from
him. He took pride in narrating this part of his interview in Castrol Ltd to
one and all!
Appa, we miss you badly. Amma prepared us, especially me, her
youngest, for her departure over the past 3 years, but Appa, I don’t think I
was ready for your exit from this world! Yes, we sisters and brothers-in-law
keep telling each other that you were incomplete without Amma, but still the
void is huge.
I recall as a child, how I held your hand
tightly in a bus, always worrying how we will move past the crowd and get down
in our stop and you assuring me that we will get enough space to move.
I recall how you used to take all of us not
leaving any of us behind for our outings - be it a movie or the beach or a
hotel or your office picnic or even a wedding. We were perhaps the only family
who were in full attendance for all the Castrol picnics right from Gingee fort
to Blue lagoon resort.
I recall how you very very rarely said ‘no’
to any of our wants and tried your best to ensure that all your daughters got
what they wanted.
I recall how you used to make a meticulous
list for crackers during Diwali, ensuring that your daughters are happy and
satisfied with it and also it is within Paati’s budget, at times hiding the
real bill amount from Paati. And the joy
you used to have and give us by bursting all the crackers with us!
Compared to our friends, we were well
travelled to Bombay, Baroda, Bangalore, Kumbakonam, etc despite being a large
family. This, Appa, is thanks only to you, ensuring that you take us all for
Appa, I was proud when you told people that
I was your lucky daughter.
Appa, I recall how you took me to Jipmer to
write the medical entrance exam with all hopes that I will get a seat. Though I
am happy that I am not a doctor seeing the medical world today, Appa, many days
I have regretted wasting precious 800 rupees on the entrance exam study
material from Brilliant Tutorials! I understand today that you had to make a
lot of effort to arrange for that amount that time!
Appa, I recall how you took me to
mandakapidi in Nallur in 1989. I had a great time with you visiting Kumbakonam,
Thiruvalanzuhi and Nallur.
Appa, I recall our last trip to Bombay
together, where roles reversed, I had to assure you that it was safe to cross
the road and you were the one who was scared!
Appa, I recall how during our morning walks
in 1980s, you told me that you have to look for a Mahavishnu for your daughter
Lakshmi and yes, you did find me a Mahavishnu for a husband, Thank you Appa!
I know that you were very keen to get one
of your daughters married into my husband’s family and I am so happy that you
got me married into this family and that too to the best person, Thank you
Appa - you taught us to share things with
people by emphasizing again and again about fair share of everything be it a
morsel of food or big money!
Appa, you taught us honesty which was your
greatest quality, which helps each of us in our lives today!
Appa you taught us hard working for which
both you and Amma are the biggest examples in this world.
The neatly dressed Appa, right from the
clean shaven face, vibudhi, chandanam, kumkumam on the forehead, neck tie,
tucked in shirt, trousers with matching belt to polished shoes! Appa, your neat line of fresh dhoties are
waiting for you in the cupboard and you went away from this world with a
week-old beard! Appa, we understand
that you could never accept Amma’s sickness and were very hopeful inside that
she will come back to her old cheerful self. Though in your usual meticulous
style, you tried to plan the ration card, gas connection, etc after her passing
away, looks like inside you did not have any purpose to live! We, your
daughters, wonder and wonder if this is the reason for you to follow her in 90
The Sabai gang of KK Nagar successfully
celebrated DiwaliDhamaka with family for the third consecutive year this Diwali.
This year we packed our bags for a night's stay at Continental resorts in Thirukazhukundram.
Our gang has grown in size to fill up a bus and a tempo traveller. The kids
known to each other as neighbours and in some cases classmates too warmed up to
each other right away in the bus. The guys who are friends from many many years
decided to travel and have fun in the van with only two of them deciding to
nobly escort the ladies and kids in the bus. We, the ladies, were discussing
clothes and Diwali bakshanam to start with. The journey was about 1hour and 30
min at the end of which we were at the resort. The size of the place was
unimaginable with battery cars operating to take us to the cottages. The whole
place was beautiful.
After freshening up in the rooms, we met again at the
swimming pool area for coffee and snacks. The teenage kids started hanging out
with their age group and a few pre teens also tagged along. The guys were
thinking of jumping into the pool and we started exchanging information and
tips on running the household.
This was followed by the highlight of
Diwali, colourful bursting of crackers. We had great fun, ending with lighting
circles of sparklers and watching them form a ring!
After such action packed
evening, we were ravenous, not to mention the energetic kids. The dinner buffet
was organized in a nice open area and we were eager to start. But alas, only
the empty dishes were kept ready for the buffet with the burner ready to be
lit, there was no food inside. Understanding it will take at least another 30
minutes for the dinner to be served, we decided to ask the kids to sing. It was
such an enlightening experience. What knowledge these kids have! After the
initial shyness, the children came out very enthusiastically to sing all types
of songs right from carnatic to kuthu paatu, as solos, duets and chorus. We
made a couple of knowledgeable ladies also sing.
Of course singing session in the Sabai
cannot end without our light music singer Kumba’s performance! He did sing a
few numbers for us with a special one for his wife Sudha!
In between dinner did
happen and the food was good, but priority now seemed to be the music and the
fun we all had together. As a mike was available, the guys took over, giving
speeches, the main highlight being friendship for three and a half decades. Thinking
about it, it is not such an easy thing, to maintain a steady friendship over
such a long time. It may be possible for 2-3 people to be friends for many
years, but not a gang of people. Kudos to you guys!
After a good night’s sleep, the guys and
kids were energized to play cricket in the morning and the ladies had to make
our own plan. Many of us were interested in visiting Thirukazhukundram temple,
but were discouraged about the number of steps to be climbed. We ended up
visiting Rudrakoteeswarar temple nearby, thanks to the suggestion given by
We came back by 10 to have breakfast and
had a major gossip session for the next few hours which was real fun!
lunch and a very small siesta, we bade goodbye to the lovely resort after a
group and family photo session to return home.