Remembering paatti

My paatti (grandmother - father's mother) died when I was 11 years old.  She was only 66 years old when she passed away. She had been hospitalized for some ailment and developed some complication.  She died a sumangali since thatha (grandfather) was still alive.

I remember paatti as a short thin woman. She always wore 9 yards (podavai). She was soft-spoken yet firm. Though she had limited education, she was well-versed in scriptures. I believe she knew sanskrit - a language which thatha learnt after her death.

My thatha-paatti always stayed with us, except when they visited their other children.  I feel this was the best that could have happened to us. The things that I learnt - consciously and sub-consciously due to their presence is enormous.

Paatti used to tell us stories from scriptures. She used to constantly read Narayaneeyam and Sundarakandam, besides other shlokas. Mostly she used to read aloud (thatha was louder though).  Thus, our home had very good vibes.

We had a small home, fairly old (at that time). Thatha used to sleep in the front room on a cot, while me and paatti used to sleep in the floor in the middle room. I remember the mosquito net, which shielded us from mosquitoes at night.  Those were the days when there was no Good Knight!

I have heard that she would leap out of the bed and rush to open the door when appa came back from evening shift (at 1 AM), with her podavai often trailing her.  This was in complete contrast to thatha, (who actually slept closer to the door). He would get up at leisure, put on the light and slowly proceed to the door.

She used to go to temple (as did thatha) almost every day.  I believe she used to do 108 pradakshinams (circumambulation) during special events in her family - like children's exam or illness of dear ones.

Kitchen was amma's department, with paatti helping out with cutting vegetables or odds and ends.  The only exception was when amma had her periods.  Paatti could dish up some interesting items, which we liked.  I have never seen amma and paatti fight any time.  Amma always says that paatti was very supportive of her, especially when she came in newly married.

Paatti and thatha fasted for many occasions - every Saturday being one of them. We looked forward to this - not for any other reason than to partake some of the "kanji" they had (in lieu of rice).  This had to be discreet, to avoid scolding from amma.

We taught paatti to play carrom board.  We took particular interest in playing against her, for winning against her was a cake walk!  I don't recall her playing cards though.  We are a "card-playing" family (a topic for a different write-up), but strangely paatti was an exception.

Paatti's mother (kollu paatti) was alive when she passed away.  Earlier in the same year, paatti's elder brother also passed away.  It was the same year, we had our upanayanam (thread ceremony), when we had the entire family get together at home.  We still share stories of that gettogether, where the bulk of the time was spent, playing cards, almost upto the point of departure of the train.

As we remember her on her death anniversary today, I feel fortunate to have had such grandparents.