It started out as a really fine Saturday morning. Finally I had a weekend all for myself after a long time, the last one was chock-a-block with a graduation day, meeting a family and hospital visits. Plus paati had been discharged from the hospital a couple of days back. S and I were at restaurant on the ECR chatting away to glory and suddenly Appa called. I thought it was one of those “where are you and when do you plan to come home calls”, so I sent him a text saying I’ll be home by 4. He called again, to break the worst news ever – Meenamma passed away, come home right now. I was too shocked to say anything at all. The next hours were a blur.
Meenamma is Appa’s Amma and none of us in the family have ever addressed her as Paati. I don’t know who came up with the name, but I’ve called her that for as long as I remember. She moved in with us way back in 1990 when Amma and I were to join Appa in Bangalore, she’d been living with us since then. She’d always been a constant at home, my folks were working, when Adi and I returned from school, she was at home to greet us.
In all these years, I’ve always shared a love hate relationship with her.
She was a very different Paati, not a very devout woman, she found solace in arts. She was a very sharp woman, with an opinion everything; music, politics and movies of the yesteryears. She could read and write English (beat that!) and was a voracious reader as well. She was an awesome cook; she took real good care of Adi and me, when the folks were away at work. Her people skills is something I will die for; everybody who came home ended up striking a rapport with her, she knew everybody by name; the bai, paperwala, milkman, cablewala, you name them she knew them. She was exceptionally talented – at the age of 85, her voice was still quiver-free, you have to believe me when I say she could sing Keerthanais without missing a beat, she was the best when it came to handiwork, all those toys made of beads in the showcase are her creations, the sweaters in the wardrobe are all hers. She had a memory of a super computer; she remembered people, dates, and events with the details intact.
What I never liked about her was gossiping. Even today I’m fiercely protective about my family. You say a word against them, I will rip you apart. And that’s precisely what happened with her. Somehow in her 25years of knowing Amma she never came around accepting that she was the best daughter-in-law of the family. There were a couple of other characteristics I dint like – one was her partiality to her older son, two never appreciating what was bestowed upon her.
So, when Appa broke the news to me I couldn’t react – I was too stumped to say or do anything. When all three of us were in the car, Amma broke the silence; in between sobs she asked “eppdi”, Appa said “terile”. Honestly, all of us were shocked. The first shocker was seeing a woman with a steel body lying in the ICU with a ventilator on. For one she’s never had any ailment in all her 85years – no BP, no sugar, no cholesterol or anything of that sort. The only thing she’s complained of is a backache, which is quite normal.
I’m yet to come to terms with the fact that she’s not around. It is a very very big void which nobody can work on. I will miss her terribly. I’ll have to get used to opening the door using the keys, something that I’ve not done in 23years. I’ll miss those days when she sneaked a couple of 100Rs notes under the pillow; I’ll miss trying on those sweaters that I’ll never wear in Chennai’s heat. I’ll miss fighting for the remote control. I’ll miss being protective about her, taking her to the bank every 5th of a month or just making sure she had her food on time. I’ll miss just having her around. Those fights, moments of emotional outburst will remain etched in my memory forever.
No matter wherever you are, I hope you will be happy.
I hope there is a nice little shop upstairs where they sell toffees’ and wool.
We will miss you – Amma, Appa, Adi and I.
Bye bye Meenamma. RIP.