Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Great Ancestors - III

Lakshmi Paati

Lakshmi Paati – called as Bombay Paati (because she spent many years in Bombay) by all in the family is the eldest in our family (born in 1911). She is my mother-in-law’s mother. Though she is bed ridden now, she was a very active person until the last 3-4 years. I remember Paati and me taking a bus back from Adyar to K K Nagar in 1995 when she was 84 years old! Nowadays though she is a bit confused at times, most of the time she responds to our questions. These days the favourite question and answer session between Paati and me is:

I : பாட்டி, நா யார் சொல்லுங்கோ
Paati : ஜெயமா? ஜானகியா? And a few other names will also follow.
I : இல்ல, நா லக்ஷ்மி
Paati : என் பெயரும் லக்ஷ்மிதான் (with a guffaw)

If I ask her what she ate, she does not remember. But once any slokam is played on the tape/TV, she will start whispering the slokams along and her feet will be tapping to the tune.

Nobody would have suffered like Paati, losing her brother, husband early in life, son, daughter-in-law in their prime, daughter, sons-in-law in her old age. But for her attitude towards life, she would not have survived so many losses! She just follows the motto “do your duty and leave the rest to God!”

I met her 15 years back when I got married and from that time, I have never seen her worry or cry over something. Always a cheerful attitude and ready to do any help that she can to her children!

When she used to come and stay with us in our K K Nagar house, many times I have teasingly asked her “பாட்டி, Singapore போலாமா ”, USA போலாமா", she never said “எனக்கு எதுக்கு அதெல்லாம்” always used to say “okay, போலாமே” எப்ப flight பிடிக்கலாம்?".

I got to hear this funny story from Paati. Once, my father-in-law and Paati came by bus from Perambur to K K Nagar. My father-in-law went in the front near the driver seat to chat with the him leaving Paati in a seat in the back. As soon as she saw the K K Nagar Pillayar Temple, Paati thought they have reached home and worried that son-in- law will leave her and get down, hurriedly got down from the bus! Our house in K K Nagar is two bus stops ahead of Pillayar temple. Only after the bus left, did she realise that my father-in-law had not got down and the bus stop was not right. While my parents-in-law were worried about her, Paati hurriedly walked all the distance and reached home. In her panic, she did not even think of taking an auto! It was great to hear her laughingly narrate the story.

My husband says that Paati is more modern in her outlook than any of her daughters.
Once when he was in school, Paati was taking care of him and his brothers at home when my mother-in-law was out of town. My husband and his brother wanted to make omelette at home which was a taboo. Paati indulged her grandchildren’s wish and allowed them to do it! This is only a sample of her modern outlook!

Her will power is also worth a mention; she had a fall in 1996, broke her thigh bone and had an operation. She travelled back to Madras with her daughter (Hema Chitti) from Coimbatore by train in December 1996.

Even when she is bed ridden today, all her body parameters are perfect; she does not have BP, Sugar or any other ailment. It is just plain old age and system is slowing down to a snail’s pace.

I am very happy to have had the chance to know this Paati and have some good times with her.

Love you Lakshmi Paati!


  1. Lak, this one is awesome. Your feelings for Lakshmi Paati come across absolutely. The piece has obviously been written with great feeling and right from the heart! way to go!

  2. Well, this is the first time ever that i am posting a comment in a blog on the net. Never felt like before, but can't refrain from sharing my thoughts for this.

    Lakshmi manni - absolutely fantastic!!

    For people who do not know me, i am Shyam, paati's youngest grandson - referred by many as "Chella Peran"

    i am one amongst the luckiest to have shared QUALITY TIME with paati.

    from narrating stories, to running behind me to feed thayir sadam, playing hide and seek and what not!! also special mention of her vatha kuzhambu!!

    Hats off for her courage, determination, will power & mental strength.

    Nowadays, when i see her, in a condition where she is not able to recognize me, i wish i had the power to rewind and go back in time.....

  3. Lakshmi,

    This is Just too good. A nice way to pay tribute to the oldest member in the family. I am also now tempted to blog!! Inspirational.

    Raja Anna