Lakshmi has already paid tributes to her Patti! Then why one more post on amma? I have to share my sorrow with my friends! Other than routine cooking I am unable to do anything. I am just thinking of my amma all day long, day and night. I feel this post will help me to unburden my heart and get back to normalcy! Thanks to all my friends who spend their valuable time in reading this post!
My amma was a personification of Patience, Sacrifice and Unconditional love! I learnt much about her life during my teens. When we would sit together to clean rice in late afternoons, she would narrate some of the incidents that happened during her childhood and early married life. These prepared me to face and solve problems in my own life later!
She followed every word in the two kurals ( couplets):-
Inna seitharai ooruthal avar
naana nannayam seithuvidal!
Inniya ulavaga innadu kooral
kaniyerrupa kai kavarthatru!
The first couplet means, “When someone spreads thorns in your path, forgive and do good to them!”
The second one means, “Using harsh words while so many sweet ones are there is like biting a raw fruit while ripe ones are in plenty!”
Amma with me and my children
She became the oldest daughter-in-law of a huge family of sons, daughters and innumerable cousins at a tender age of 16 years. She took the responsibility of the whole family as my patti would be away most of the time helping her sisters and brothers. She kept the doors of her home and heart open to all my appa’s relatives, cousins and friends. She was the universal manni (Sister-in-law) to all his cousins. All of them have spent some time living in our home, some for days, some for months and a few for years. All this she managed while the family income was pittance.
What amazes me most is that she would calmly go about doing her work after being the epicenter of a tornado of abuses inflicted upon her. Even more amazing is the fact that she would do anything to help people who seek her favour unabashedly, after treating her badly! She was a real angel who was above all these petty things!
It is not as if she had only misery in her life. There are a lot of good people among those whom she helped. These people adore her for her fine qualities. I remember our days at Hyderabad where we had a big group of neighbours and friends. Anyone who needs help or advise during pregnancy,delivery or child care, she was always there for them! In fact she would offer help even before being asked and has stayed with many in the hospital during their delivery. She was an expert in infant and child care! As her daughter, I can proudly declare that she never raised her voice while talking to us, leave alone scolding or hitting children! No wonder all the children who were fortunate to be in her care, love and adore her! I think the time she spent caring for children, her own, her nephews and nieces or grandchildren were the most joyous moments in her life. The gleam in her eyes while preparing favourite laddoo or mixture for my son is etched in my memory! When she was around 60 years of age, she fondly knitted a double colour sweater for my son, that too with such poor eye sight!
She never had good eye sight, being blind in one eye and with just a hazy shadowy vision in the other. She had an astonishing ability to perceive and view things inspite of her disability. Most people lose their sense of direction while driving around or deep fry till food browns. My amma has never been directionally challenged on roads and no one can beat her in frying food till its just the right shade of golden and crisp.
I do not claim my mother was flawless. Her biggest flaw was that she thought being bold to protect ones own rights was a sin! She simply allowed people to exploit her! Another draw back was that she bottled up her sorrows, which burst out during the last few months of her life, when the physical pain overpowered her patience! Blessed are those who cared for her during her last days!
At 47 I feel I have neither understood myself or life! Since 27 years, that is after my marriage, I have hardly spent much time with my parents. May be two weeks to one month in a year. The agony I have experienced from last October, worrying about them is unbelievable! I knew amma was suffering and the end was near, but then it is so difficult to come to terms with reality!
Tears roll down my eyes when I think there was no one to help her when she suffered two abortions and two infant deaths during her teens!
Tears roll down my cheeks when I think there was no one to care for her when she worked till the last moment of pregnancy and went to the hospital all alone and waited in the corridor for my grandma before entering the labour room to deliver my eldest brother!
My only solace is that I could spend some time with her in February in the hospital, the only time she was hospitalised for sickness during her lifetime!
My amma used only two cosmetics throughout her life – turmeric pod or powder for the face, and kumkum for her big red pottu which she was very particular about. She wanted to predecease my Appa – she wanted to die as a Sumangali.
Her soul departed on the 10th of May 2008 at 3 pm. On the 11th of May, the skies burst into tears when her body was being taken for cremation. The Delhi summers had not seen the last of rains yet. The skies poured as if to condole the death of a noble soul for 4 days from the 10th day to the 13th day after her death.
When amma was hospitalized in February 2008, she would keep praying to Lord Venkateshwara, “Appane Venkatachalapathy, Yennai Thiruvadi Serthukko” (“O Lord Venkatachalapathy, Give me place at your feet”). On the 11th and 12th day of the ceremony we feed four brahmins. For amma’s 12th day, the purohit was able to find only 3 brahmins to feed. On his routine visit to the Vaikuntanathar temple by chance he came across a brahmin from Tirupati who readily agreed to accept our offerings. It was as if the Lord himself had sent his devotee for my amma’s last rites.
I AM SURE SHE LIVES IN COUNTLESS HEARTS FOR ALL THE GOOD THINGS SHE HAS DONE!!
MAY HER SOUL REST IN PEACE.