May 22, 2010


It has been a year since my mom left us. I am sufficiently grown up to understand that everybody has to bid farewell one day or the other but when it comes to mother, it takes a lot of time to forget the pain of missing her and to get the courage to move on.

Her thoughts were bringing tears earlier but now they are cherished. Everyday, every moment I think of her. She is belovedly called SK. She was a superb cook - cant beat her Bisi bele hulianna (this is how we term bisibelabath in our house), ambat baaji or soppu hulipalya (keerai sambar that is so thick such that it looks like keerai sabji), wheat halwa, varulu avalakki (a snack made out of poha), rasam, rasavangi (a kind of kozhambu with brinjal in it), vaangi bath, karunai kizhangu masiyal and the like. The taste of these items is still lingering in my mouth.

According to me, she was the epitome of patience. I can better understand it now when I struggle to manage my little one while she brought up all of us not having known what mother's love (she lost her mom when she was around 3 years old) is all about. She used to like babies a lot. My nephew Hari is her most beloved grandson. Thanks to the technological advancements - She could see my little one's photos as soon as he was born.

While I was going to the elementary school, she would bring lunch for me to the school. We would sit in a corner and I would ask her to tell me a story. She would start telling Ramayana or Mahabharatha but down the line she would blabber because she would feel sleepy. Every year, she would buy me 2 new clothes when the school starts for the academic year.

When I was doing my graduation, I had invited a lot of my friends home quite often. She would happily serve them meal and was very hospitable. She had offered food, snacks or coffee to those that stop by our house - be it anytime.

I have never seen her relax; she would always be doing some household work or the other. I have not seen any other person making the hoo baththi (you call it as vilakku thiri in tamil) as perfect and neat as her. She had a long hair and she would sit on the floor, stretch her legs and split her hair into two parts and would comb it. That is very much fresh in my memory. And she did not have a single grey hair in her 71 years of life. She used to recite all slokas such Bhagavath Geetha, Raghavendra stothra, Saneeswara stothra while cooking and she did learn all of them by heart just by listening to my father's recital during his daily pooja. She used to say "We have to have a good heart and think of good things and utter good words while cooking as it will have an impact on the ones who consume"

She is a woman who underwent a lot of hardships in her entire life. But I have never seen her lamenting about anything. Simplicity and contentment will keep us and everyone around us happy. She loved nature and was interested in touring. When I had been to the Niagara for the first time I told myself "I should bring her here once". Even when she was in the hospital in the last few days, she did not grumble about her condition; she welcomed her end quite happily after much suffering.

I have inherited few of her characteristics such as reading religious materials, showing interest in music and literature, being patriotic, being respectful to national leaders such as Gandhiji, Rajaji etc. We have never used any bad words in our house and I think it is all because of her upbringing. She liked to listen when I sing "kurai onrum illai". She liked Bombay sisters' Oothukkadu compositions and of course MS' renderings.

I lived my life to the fullest from Year 2003 to 2007. A handful of salary, bachelor life hence no worries or commitment, life was good in the Chromepet house. I enjoyed being with my family. Chennai is famous for its power cuts during summer (that is a perennial one but popular in summer) and my amma and I would play "yaaru manasula yaaru" and the rest of the family will be the audience. I remember the day I took her for a ride in my scooter. That was the first and last time she sat on my scooter; that is one reason why I still dont want to sell it off though it is not of any use to anyone now. Tears showed up in her eyes when I left to my in-laws' place after my marriage; she had not wept for any other sister of mine like that.

Days passed by; months passed by; and a year has passed now. Her first Aapdika i.e. annual ceremony falls on the 31st of this month. This is going to happen to all of us one day and this is what life is all about. We need to move on and that is why we all have a family of our own and have lots and lots of responsibilities towards the family. Brain understands this reality but heart fails to understand and ultimately suffers.

May 3, 2010

A common man's autobiography

It was quite odd for me when I came to know that my father's uncle S.R.R has written an autobiography as he was not a public figure and I should say that I did not quite think that anybody can write a biography of his/her own life until I knew of this. However he was certainly a big shot in the family in the sense that he was highly qualified amongst his contemporaries in the family, a Doctorate.   Also he was an associate of Sir C.V.Raman.

They were 6 brothers and 2 sisters. My dad's father was the eldest (actually second but the eldest died at quite an early age).  My grandfather being the responsible elder brother had provided monetary support for the family. He did his PhD in London around 60-70 years ago and it sure was a great thing for a family like ours then.

My second cousin G.R.R who is the grandson of my father's uncle had the electronic version of his grandpa's autobiography and thanks to him I had the opportunity to read it a few years ago. There were a few things that interested me a lot and some of them made me proud to have been born and raised in that lineage. I have learnt some lessons from it too.

It gives some insight about the previous generation of my grandfather, A.R. My great grandfather S.R is the 3rd of 8 sons in the family. And they were financially doing well. When the sons grew up and individually set up their families, their financial status was on the descent (Most probably because the head of the family unexpectedly died at an early age). There was a need to sell a family property and the first four brothers who were doing better financially, gave away their shares too to the last 4 brothers who were struggling to make both ends meet. It is something that I could not believe at all and am very happy to learn that my ancestors had been so kind and considerate. Secondly, my great grandfather's mother wanted to throw away one of the boy babies born to my grandfather as she expected a girl baby in the family (she bore 8 boys no girl). I pinched my own self when I read it as no parent preferred girl babies during those days.

After reading his autobiography, I sometimes feel that everyone should write a biography or some note to mention about those that help us to be who we are today. Well, I told my mother to write her autobiography and she immediately said "I dont know where my maternal cousins are!! They did so much to me when I was down with jaundice at my grandma's place". I am happy because I made her think of those that helped her, during her last days.

I dont know how much time is left for me so I have also jotted down about those who had created an impact in my life.