Awesomeness needs no captioning! 😛 …⇑⇑
Awesomeness needs no captioning! 😛 …⇑⇑
No, I am not plagiarizing a beautiful title, of a well known Hollywood actress’ biography (Joan Crawford’s by her adopted daughter). Rather, hot on the heels of Mothers’ Day, is yet another special one for me. Mine grows another year younger, and it’s about time I acknowledged that one 🙂 🙂
My SB said to me the other day, amma, you know we’ve been together the last almost 22 years, and it’s going to be difficult na, when I go? I mean, you’ve known me only a part of your life, but I’ve known you all my life! 😆 Understatement, isn’t it? Of course he was just rehashing an old cliché!! But that is the point I’m trying to make. All our lives, we know one person the mostest, I think, our mother, sometimes, more than our father. In India at least :D! And so it is with Mom. Yes, I call her Mummy, Mom, Maaaaa… somehow never got around to calling her Amma, though my kids call me that. On my insistence! My paternal grandma, at her insistence, was called Amma by my brothers and I. That is another story for another rainy-no-muse day :)!
Mom has been the strongest pillar of our family. Not just us, but even hers, I sometimes think. She takes after her own mother, who I have already described in “A Woman Extraordinaire”, with a zest for life, and an unconditional and uninhibited go-for-it attitude to life. She, like me, is the ham of a club sandwich, the 5th of 10 children her parents had. 11 if you were to count the oldest, a half brother. Life was tough as they grew, she and her siblings; lots of ancestral property managed by the Kaarnavar, or the eldest Maternal Uncle, the head of the family, entirely matriarchal… a childhood of getting, not much at all, just enough to live, dreaming of things, rushing about doing a 100 jobs around the place, along with the others. Going to school, walking over 3 miles up, then down again; taking turns to carry the large tiffin carrier; being denied further studies after her 10th, which only she and her youngest sister passed, because she had been seen, approved and was to be married off!! Tough times. Times that could, I have felt, crushed one with a weaker spirit.
So almost 50 years ago, she got married, a charming 17 year old, to a handsome tall dashing young navy man. My Dad. Though there are times we, both mom n I, rave and rant about men, I have always felt she was lucky, way luckier than her sisters, cousins, relatives, heck, even me :P! But then, I am biased am I not? She got married to my .. MY dad :D! Tougher times ahead, unfortunately! Being the wife of an only son has its problems. A possessive mother in law, who, though never abusive or hurtful, was possessive enough to make things difficult! But, yet again, she was lucky in that she was able to join Dad and travel with him on his various postings. And then of course, she had us 🙂 🙂 🙂 Lucky her! Lol!
With just a year between my EB and me, it was difficult for her to manage us, especially with Dad off sailing for long periods. But manage she did, and beautifully. For, in an alien city, Mumbai, with alien language and customs, she took to it all like a duck to water, and sailed through with flying colours. In Delhi too, the same happened.
She has taken us to heights, and been with us through all our lows, been firm, yet loosened the bonds and apron strings when required, and kept us grounded and level headed through everything. Just everything. Be it the double fractures my EB had, the sickly chap my YB was, the rebel I became through my adolescence… right through it all, like a rock, she was there, always there. Never preachy, though she had and still has a booming voice when she gets mad 😉 😉 Dad was also there, but he was the strong and silent type back then 🙂 Now he is just the opposite, ever since his grandchildren got him to open up 🙂 🙂
You see, she grows younger as I have already said. She gels instantly with persons of all ages. It takes just a few seconds to get anyone talking, with her listening and drawing them out. She never holds back, be it advice sometimes, knocking common sense sometimes, listening, encouraging, consoling. There are very very few people I have come across who can reach out the way she has. In fact even my kids’ gang of friends are her friends; she never holds back; nothing, absolutely nothing!
When she knew I was going to be alone, in a few months time, there was no, why don’t you come down here, or shall we come there… just a reminder to be stronger, and have real expectations 🙂 And while we still agree to disagree on a lot of issues, the bonds are stronger than ever. She guides, unhesitatingly, and silently. Waits. Never nags, or asks. It’s cool, either way. She gives us space. Our own, and asks we never trample on hers :D!!
Linda Goodman, in her Sun Signs, speaks of the Taurean Woman as someone who walks tall. That’s her, my mother. She’s barely above 5 feet, but towers in ways we never could. To her indomitable spirit, and endless enthusiasm, not to forget her sheer gregarious spirit, here’s a toast! For health, peace of mind (she says that is fairy tale :D), for smiles each day, and less pain, esp around the knee 🙂 :)… (she’s going to blow a fuse when I show her this one, but it will be worth it! )Since she has already approved the Vishu and Thrissur Pooram posts, I think I might strike lucky with a third I share with her 🙂 🙂
Mummy, you’re the best. That is why even we are 🙂 Happy Birthday! May you grow even more years younger, each passing day 🙂 🙂 And may we be blessed to have your grace with us, always 🙂
The slide above has been prepared by my sister in law 🙂 Thanks Trips and Vinu, for saying is so beautifully for all of us 🙂 🙂
(Click on pic to enlarge, to read the beautiful words they have written 🙂 )
11 May, 2010, for 15 May, 2010
Now these words might make a virago out of my grandmother [my maternal grandmother], but no, it isn’t quite like that! Let me explain a little, with a brief sketch first of all :
The second born, of four children, in a matriarchal family, early twentieth century, she studied upto the fourth standard, got married at around twelve years, almost thirteen, she said, to a widower with a young son, had eleven babies, one of whom, the youngest to be precise, did not survive beyond a few days, she lived a life that I have found extraordinary! My earliest memories of her are of a graceful, tall, slim woman, filled with energy, always bustling about the house, not necessarily working in the kitchen though.. 🙂 She loved talking, and gossiping and telling us, and anyone who cared to listen stories.. and my, oh my! those were stories!!!
It was Corinne Rodrigues’ post on her grandmother, Recalling a Woman of Substance – Part I, that made me want to write this. A niggling idea then germinated, more than a month ago, and has not let me be, all these weeks, and now finally, a few days after her third death anniversary, I offer this – to my Muthashi [grandmother, in Malayalam]. I can visualize her enjoyment at having something dedicated to her, and her criticism of it as well!!
Let me go back to those three words at the top of this post. Nothing, absolutely nothing, I had found out, could crush her spirit, not the number of children she had, five boys and five girls and the step-son she brought up as her own [all her children are still hale and hearty this day :)], not the misery of the partition of family property (that was terribly acrimonious) she had to go through, isolated from her siblings, who shunned her though they stayed next door, not the squabbles among her children, from time to time, especially her sons, or the rude behaviour of some of her grandchildren – Nothing. It was as if there was something in her that simply refused to acknowledge this, and she survived another day (and taught a few lessons by way of example! Not by accepting injustice, if any, but by not letting it get to her!!) In fact, as my mother always reminds me, at each of those times in her life, she was the inspiration to all around her!
Living in the nattumpuram, the interior, the countryside, so to speak, did little to limit to knowledge of the happenings around the world, and Kerala! She was a voracious reader, from newspapers, to all the serialized stories in the Mangalam and Manorama weeklies. (Malayalees can perhaps connect to these :D!! The stories are sort of pulp fiction, lots of romances, betrayals, and stuff!!) And Radio Plays, so looked forward to, even by us, migratory birds who visited her a month each year! Even after the advent of television in our village in the mid eighties, the radio plays were firm favourites for her! No one was to talk, to shout, nothing… she’d sit, with us, all around, her head tilted towards the radio, in rapt attention! A sharp smack greeted anyone who dared to distract her!
What I loved so much about her was her absolute uninhibited joy when she went to the cinema! She was perhaps the oldest “hooter” or “Catcaller”, lol, theatres would ever have seen. A legend of sorts in our small place! We had a couple of rustic theatres, which later became brick and cement “real” cinema halls. Her children were most times embarrassed, but she cared two hoots (two long ones, at that :)), when the action scenes came around! For us, her grandchildren, it was HUGE entertainment, going to the movies with her. The number who went, piled into a couple of cars, literally piled would be anything upwards of ten…:) – my grandparents, parents, three of us, my brothers and me, other uncles, aunts, cousins, servants and the neighbours!! Even now, when I go for a movie I miss her presence and the enjoyment!
She had magic in her hands! We call it kaipunyam in Malayalam, the gift within of being able to cook divinely, and make anything one’s hands touch taste delicious! She could turn a bit of salt, tamarind, a couple red chillies, fried, and a couple of shallots, [cheriya ulli –small onions, the size of maybe marbles], into her pièce de résistance called, Ulli Puli (literally translated as Onion tamarind, or sour onion !). My mouth waters, even now, this very moment, as I write about it. My mother, and her youngest sister, of her children, I have found, have inherited this from her, but they come nowhere close to her 🙂
My greatest gift from her, is her tutoring me in the letters of my mother tongue. Having been born and brought up outside of Kerala, there was little chance of my learning it formally, in school. But when I was in the fifth standard, I remember, the urge to learn what appeared heiroglyphics took root, and she guided me through those, during my summer vacation. Not having much practice in later years, or having felt the inclination, I neglected this area, and recently, after having settled in Kerala, a close friend here, and another blogger, Praveen, has made me want to again get back to those basics and perhaps, with renewed vigour, maybe even express myself here, in Malayalam 🙂 If and when that happens, it’s a dedication to my Muthashi!!!
She had wanted to chronicle her experiences in life, as a sort of diary, her memoirs, sort of… But that remained an unfulfilled wish. She truly knew enough gossip, happenings, family relationships [uncle’s mother-in-law’s sister’s nephew’s grandson’s wife… sort of thing] really well, that it never ceased to amaze me, how she’d map out with such clarity and define who was who, and how important he/she was!!! We’d always say that she had enough material to fuel a mega serial, the saga of her life and times!!!
The one special thing about her, was that ability she had to tell stories. Indeed all Grandmothers, I think, come with that ability, lol.. but her’s was a different sort! When we came to her for the vacations, we’d always insist on sleeping with her at night… so we’d spread the mattresses, and mats [the unlucky ones got those… :D] all over the front room, called ummaram, in that ancestral house, and she would tell us the goosebumps variety of stories of people called odiyans, who would take revenge, or be hired by others to do the same, by turning themselves into a dog with a limp or a huge black buffalo. She’d tell us hair-raising tales about how her father and grandfather had actually seen them and how an uncle had been lured out of the home at night [the time when they operate], but throwing gravel on the tiled roof, and when he went out to see who it was, something happened, and he never returned alive! Oh my! those were stories!!! And we’d huddle together, shiver, and simply love it! In actual fact, she would have closed her eyes and most often gone off to sleep, but it was as if she was on auto pilot, and narrative would go on… that was her special ability!!! Even now, when I think of it, a thrill fills me; these are stories my mother has told her grandchildren, and I sit along a listen with them, and at 20+ both my children still enjoy it just as much and go brrrr… especially in the nights!!!
I somehow think there must have been my grandmother in my heart when I wrote this poem, a long time ago, for it kind of sums her up quite well! It’s called Indomitable.
This has been one looonnnggggg post; something which even I did not think would take so much space! But then, it’s like that when I talk about my grandmother. In a few words, perhaps I’d summarize her this way too:
Through thick and thin
Ups and downs
Always smiles and never frowns
Muthashi, precious kin!
A spirit unputdownable
Ever and always affable
In life and always
A sunny-side-up-er [:D]
That, dear friends, is HER!!!!
Miss you Muthashi, I really do!!!
[11 November, 2008 to 22 November, 2008]
Some stories need to be said... Some need to be heard.
The best longform stories on the web
of books, food and friendship!
A journey to find new meaning after personal loss
In the Indian context
writer, storyteller, veteran (see MaxieJaneFrazier.com for more)
And, yes, i love to limerick || Have tried to master the trick || Of the a a b b a rhyme || 'Tis a joy truly sublime || When a verse comes out slick and quick!
The Oddness of Moving Things
The fresh smell of life.
Quiet people have the loudest minds.
Mind over matter
When you look out, what do you see?
A fine WordPress.com site
and sometimes trying on new ones for fit (and looks)
Tigers not daughters
Vanity, On A Royal Scale
The world through my lens.....
To Share... To Love... What better way than words
One Step at a Time
All that remains.
I like birds
Comics, Cartoons, Writings.