Friday, September 30, 2011

Remembering Thatha

I was Skyping with Amma a few days ago and I suddenly realized that I had totally forgotten a very important day- my maternal grandpa left us six years ago. I was really upset that I had missed the day (despite Amma telling me that the prayer ceremonies would be done on a different day depending on the nakshatram) and needless to say I spent quite some time thinking about Thatha.

I really don't know why I called him Thatha (the Tamil term for grandpa) rather than the usual Malayalam terms. I guess spending my childhood in Ooty had something to do with it, and he has always been Thatha for me. As a child, I thought of him as tough, strict and a disciplinarian. Someone you definitely wouldn't want to cross lines with! Despite the tough exterior, he had a warm heart, always kind, always considerate. I remember he used to be fiercely independent. Even when he was gravely ill with cancer, he insisted on traveling alone so that he doesn't trouble or disrupt anyone's schedule. He didn't like sob stories and was usually impatient when dealing with tears. He wasn't afraid of speaking what was on his mind, and never minced words. A very practical person, he always said what he meant and meant what he said.

I can remember my last holiday with him distinctly, as if it occurred only yesterday. We had just shifted from Bahrain to the Emirates and I had gone back to Kerala for the summer. I was sitting in the verandah of my aunt's house with Thatha. I was in grade 9 at that time, and Amma had dutifully returned from the bookshop with an R.D Sharma Mathematics textbook. (CBSE Torture! >.<) This would be my Bible for the next four years. (I'm not complaining though; the book was really helpful, come to think of it!) Anyway, that day, I was sulky about something and was in one of my irritated moods. Thatha was reading his Matrubhoomi newspaper and I was trying to look at the complex problems in the book, muttering under my breath. Then I started to complain to him. Thatha just looked at me quietly and said, ' Mole, your mother has taken great pains to go and get the book for you. Make sure that you do justice to it'. And that shut me up for the rest of the day, and each time I felt like complaining, I would remember what he said.

We celebrated his birthday that holiday with a huge sadhya and special prayers at the temple. This was sometime in July, a time when the monsoons strike Kerala hard. On his birthday, it was as if the rain gods were showering their blessings on us- it rained so much! My mother and valiamma made a hurried trip to the temple nearby to get the special pal payasam served as prasadam for Thatha. He enjoyed it to the very last drop. That night as he prepared to go to sleep, I remember going to the puja room and praying hard. As I went to wish him goodnight, I took a speck of sacred ash between my fingers and drew it across his forehead, fervently hoping that the vibhuti would cure him of the malignant tumor that was slowly but surely growing inside him. He held onto my hand and said, 'Thank you Sruthi mole, I'll be fine', his courage never failing to astound me.

And so, my summer quickly passed by and it was soon time to get back to school. Lessons, exams, new friends, debates and quizzes...all the time, a prayer for Thatha unconsciously etched onto a forgotten recess of my mind. And one day we got the news that Thatha had passed on. I cried bitterly that evening, this being my first exposure to death. I thought a lot about him that whole week- how I would run to him whenever he came to visit us at Ooty, asking him for my favorite Calicut halwa, begging him to allow me and my cousins to watch an adipoli movie while he wanted to watch the news, how he would give in to our demands at last, stern words of advice, proud smiles when I talked to him about my progress at school.

Time always allows the wounds to heal. Six years have since passed, and we all have moved on with our lives. He may not be here with us physically, but I can still feel his presence. I will always love you Thatha! And I know you're watching and guiding me, as I try to make my way through in this crazy world, from some distant corner of this vast universe. Everything has changed, and yet, nothing has changed at all.

4 comments:

  1. Yes, six long years have gone without him. We certainly miss his presence in our lives but there is not a single moment that has gone by without thinking about him. He was a superb human being and instilled in us the discipline and the courage to face any adversity.With his spirit alive in all his children and grandchildren he has not really left us...Was it Tolstoy who said that only those that do not take roots in others are the ones that really die? Ravunniarath Venugopal Menon is very much alive...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lovely post...

    I had written something for my grandfater as well. Would love it if you could give it a read. For the sole reason that you may be able to understand exactly what my emotions were when I wrote this.

    http://divyathemostuseful.blogspot.com/2010/12/that-strange-thing-called-memory.html

    ReplyDelete
  3. Amma, indeed Thatha continues to live and like Dolly chechi said, he'll continue to inspire us :)

    Spaceman Spiff, thank you so much for visiting my blog! :) I did read your post and I found it really touching!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I remember Uncle vividly. The best thing I liked was his practical wisdom. It was very pronounced when we visited a temple once. He quickly finished prayers was saying "Why and what do people pray for this long : ?"

    ReplyDelete

Friday, September 30, 2011

Remembering Thatha

I was Skyping with Amma a few days ago and I suddenly realized that I had totally forgotten a very important day- my maternal grandpa left us six years ago. I was really upset that I had missed the day (despite Amma telling me that the prayer ceremonies would be done on a different day depending on the nakshatram) and needless to say I spent quite some time thinking about Thatha.

I really don't know why I called him Thatha (the Tamil term for grandpa) rather than the usual Malayalam terms. I guess spending my childhood in Ooty had something to do with it, and he has always been Thatha for me. As a child, I thought of him as tough, strict and a disciplinarian. Someone you definitely wouldn't want to cross lines with! Despite the tough exterior, he had a warm heart, always kind, always considerate. I remember he used to be fiercely independent. Even when he was gravely ill with cancer, he insisted on traveling alone so that he doesn't trouble or disrupt anyone's schedule. He didn't like sob stories and was usually impatient when dealing with tears. He wasn't afraid of speaking what was on his mind, and never minced words. A very practical person, he always said what he meant and meant what he said.

I can remember my last holiday with him distinctly, as if it occurred only yesterday. We had just shifted from Bahrain to the Emirates and I had gone back to Kerala for the summer. I was sitting in the verandah of my aunt's house with Thatha. I was in grade 9 at that time, and Amma had dutifully returned from the bookshop with an R.D Sharma Mathematics textbook. (CBSE Torture! >.<) This would be my Bible for the next four years. (I'm not complaining though; the book was really helpful, come to think of it!) Anyway, that day, I was sulky about something and was in one of my irritated moods. Thatha was reading his Matrubhoomi newspaper and I was trying to look at the complex problems in the book, muttering under my breath. Then I started to complain to him. Thatha just looked at me quietly and said, ' Mole, your mother has taken great pains to go and get the book for you. Make sure that you do justice to it'. And that shut me up for the rest of the day, and each time I felt like complaining, I would remember what he said.

We celebrated his birthday that holiday with a huge sadhya and special prayers at the temple. This was sometime in July, a time when the monsoons strike Kerala hard. On his birthday, it was as if the rain gods were showering their blessings on us- it rained so much! My mother and valiamma made a hurried trip to the temple nearby to get the special pal payasam served as prasadam for Thatha. He enjoyed it to the very last drop. That night as he prepared to go to sleep, I remember going to the puja room and praying hard. As I went to wish him goodnight, I took a speck of sacred ash between my fingers and drew it across his forehead, fervently hoping that the vibhuti would cure him of the malignant tumor that was slowly but surely growing inside him. He held onto my hand and said, 'Thank you Sruthi mole, I'll be fine', his courage never failing to astound me.

And so, my summer quickly passed by and it was soon time to get back to school. Lessons, exams, new friends, debates and quizzes...all the time, a prayer for Thatha unconsciously etched onto a forgotten recess of my mind. And one day we got the news that Thatha had passed on. I cried bitterly that evening, this being my first exposure to death. I thought a lot about him that whole week- how I would run to him whenever he came to visit us at Ooty, asking him for my favorite Calicut halwa, begging him to allow me and my cousins to watch an adipoli movie while he wanted to watch the news, how he would give in to our demands at last, stern words of advice, proud smiles when I talked to him about my progress at school.

Time always allows the wounds to heal. Six years have since passed, and we all have moved on with our lives. He may not be here with us physically, but I can still feel his presence. I will always love you Thatha! And I know you're watching and guiding me, as I try to make my way through in this crazy world, from some distant corner of this vast universe. Everything has changed, and yet, nothing has changed at all.

4 comments:

  1. Yes, six long years have gone without him. We certainly miss his presence in our lives but there is not a single moment that has gone by without thinking about him. He was a superb human being and instilled in us the discipline and the courage to face any adversity.With his spirit alive in all his children and grandchildren he has not really left us...Was it Tolstoy who said that only those that do not take roots in others are the ones that really die? Ravunniarath Venugopal Menon is very much alive...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lovely post...

    I had written something for my grandfater as well. Would love it if you could give it a read. For the sole reason that you may be able to understand exactly what my emotions were when I wrote this.

    http://divyathemostuseful.blogspot.com/2010/12/that-strange-thing-called-memory.html

    ReplyDelete
  3. Amma, indeed Thatha continues to live and like Dolly chechi said, he'll continue to inspire us :)

    Spaceman Spiff, thank you so much for visiting my blog! :) I did read your post and I found it really touching!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I remember Uncle vividly. The best thing I liked was his practical wisdom. It was very pronounced when we visited a temple once. He quickly finished prayers was saying "Why and what do people pray for this long : ?"

    ReplyDelete