My simple dad worked for the central government undertaking that imported gold and silver bars via Madras harbour. He was in charge of the delivery and accounting of precious metals. While it was understood that most before him misused their position, my father had the cleanest hands. Never touched a single coin or bar that was government property. In fact his colleagues would lament how he was blocking others from enjoying life. Remember this was not the computer era. Statements were typed out and erasex was used for typos. Gold bars were easy to be substituted with copper or other metal bars. Committing a fraud was easy and would have gone undetected. And over it all if you refused to ‘cooperate’ there were vested interests who even threatened of implicating the honest staff in false cases or eliminating them from the scene once for all. Only my father’s soft nature saved him from life threatening situations. Even the worst masterminds paused looking at this gentleman who led a puritanical life not wanting to harm him. My father who never remarried after my mother, my father who owned not more than two or three sets of clothes at a time, my father who lived as a vegetarian, a teetotaler, my father who never raised his voice or argued or picked up a spat with anyone all his life – he was one of those from last gen who we would never get to see again. Was he a fool, I wonder because, all around now I see such a corruption everywhere. Did he not figure out how to live happy. How to live a luxurious life. How to have good time. What stopped him in his 40s from marrying again. What stopped him from smoking or boozing or even going to a picture. Why did he always go only to the temple and the market. Why he never left home once after evening 6 or 7. Why did he never take a day off for a vacation. Why did he not own a car or phone that he could have afforded. Why did he sleep on a mat on the floor when he could have had on a comfortable bed. Why did he even not eat in good restaurants. My father who took the same bus route 3A from Mylapore for years to go to work at the same place indeed did not know how to live life. Which is why his life was brutally cut short who knows. I wish I knew my father better, I had spoken more to him, I had given him the confidence and I had told him that I WAS THERE for him always. Sometimes we don’t have parents telling us how to live. They show us by their example as my parents did. My parents had a very short life on this planet. It is in their absence that they raised us mostly. I owe being what I am to my poor parents who were so straight and clean and simple and honest and godfearing. My belief system is like that of my parents. My values are like that of my parents. It is enough I know if I am half good as them. That’s what matters to me really. Long after they are gone, they are remembered for the good people they were. I am someone who benefited from the m m t c scholarships during my school days. My school fees ranged from as little as thirty three rupees in my class 6 to one hundred and fifty rupees in standard 12 in the year 1986. My father’s office gave a cheque in my name for six hundred rupees every year until 1984 which was my high school year when I gave my standard 10 exams. For my higher secondary I received nine hundred rupees. Education was subsidized and/or scholarships given to children of working staff by my father’s profit making organization. Those cheques went into bank account in my name. This was valuable money in those days. My sister too received hers. This central govt undertaking was a good place to work. Hours after my mother passed away, they sent a cheque for her last rites. Health cover. Good yearly bonuses, great canteen (been there many times), airy workplace and generally a healthy place to work in. I have blogged a lot on my mom but I do owe a lot to my father too. He took a housing loan from his office to build our home that is on lease today. How many lives can employers touch. Finally with my father, i still don’t have a closure and it hurts. I was n’t even aware that such a word called ‘depression’ existed in my teens. I hope I can be forgiven for my ignorance. Otherwise my father would have lingered for a lot more years who knows.
Category: Drops Of Life
Fragrance Of Memories.
I have decided to add my personal stories in a section here. Most of them are like miracles. Whatever could be grand coincidence I have decided to share here.
Today such a thing happened.
I was buying flowers from a street vendor in Mylapore. I got the three greatest and sweet smelling flowers for my Puja (friday Diya puja) Marugozhundhu, Manoranjitham and Shenbhagam that form the base for many perfumes. Today the woman who sold the flowers said she knew me. I was surprised. She asked me whether I lived in Adam street, Mylapore. I said I could be familiar because I frequented Mylapore my birth place and mother’s home. Of course I grew up in Mylapore.
Then the woman conclusively told me, ‘your paalkaara aayaah was my aayaah. for years she worked for your family. you were young. i used to come to your house with her. you are two sisters. you lost your mother early.’ The woman also called me by name and mentioned our family name – how we are referred to in our community. I was stunned. Then the face slowly became familiar to me. Not familiar actually. I could make a quaint or faint connection that’s all. I remembered the very old lady who fetched milk for us every morning. She had a hunched back. I was too young but her daughter Sokkamma with a polio leg was our housemaid before Kanniamma joined us. Sokkamma was the flower woman’s aunt. I went to Sokkamma’s marriage also somewhere near Tambaram with my parents. My parents got two of our housemaids married. The flower woman said her name was Mahalakshmi. She told me my grandma gave Sokkamma a gold chain for her marriage. Sokkamma’s husband was an alcoholic. She died soon leaving behind a daughter. That daughter Thilaka is now married and well settled. My mother and my grandma used to feel bad for her fate. They were only our house servants but my family deeply cared for them. Mahalakshmi said, that gold chain was with their family for a long time and it helped Sokkamma’s daughter when getting married. I was stunned by the flower seller’s memory. I was also moved to hear about my mother’s and my grandmother’s kind gesture. After Sokkamma, a girl called Kanniamma worked for us. My mother got her married too. In fact she named her daughter, the eldest born, after my mother.
My mother taught hearing and speech impaired middle school girls until the last day of her life. She had a kind of empathy for the lesser fortunate which was unheard of in those days. She was neutral and unbiased. She was far ahead of her times in many ways.
Today is my mother’s 40th death anniversary as per English calendar. I recall this only now and somehow forgot to get it when I was with the flower woman. My mother reaches to me directly. Nobody will believe if I say this. My Mother Goddess reaches to me in a way too that I cannot describe.
Now the time is 11 pm. My mother passed away around 10.30 on July 14, 1982. I observed the thidhi as per Hindu/Thamizh calendar. My sister observed it as per English date today.
Why should of all the days, months and years, I have to meet someone from my past who recalled my mother and grandmother today of all days. Exact day. I have been buying flowers in Mylapore for years and years. Not once have I met this woman before. Never have our paths crossed in 45 plus years. Mahalakshmi said she is 59. Look at her flowers. Her recalling of my name is unbelievable.
An Ambal upasakar told me that my mother did not have rebirth. Today’s incidence is surprisingly having a calming effect on me. Nowadays vibes are getting replaced with a peace in my case. For years I have received strong vibes in waves. Of late as I get older, I have an understanding in my heart that’s all.
This is the second time in a matter of three months, my mother has reached out to me. I don’t even know her really. I am learning more of her through third parties.
My mother was a flower girl who filled our terrace with potted plants such as roses, jasmine, hibiscus. december, kanakambaram, saamandhi etc., that we had no space to walk. Very interested in gardening, she would frequent the Horticulture society that was in Gemini, where she would board her bus back from school. We also bought so much of flowers everyday from street vendors. Roses especially. In the house that my parents built (which is perpetually leased out), my mother planted seven Ceylon (red) coconut trees, mango tree, curry leaf tree etc., and roses and hibiscuses.
My mother helped at least two poorest girls get married when they had nothing. In return Karma saw to that we two daughters married well in her absence.
Years after someone is gone, this is what stays behind. Our good Karma. Thank you so much for reaching out to me Amma. You just told me you are there always for us.