Jayam paati – I knew her, I knew her not.


With age, there is one thing that tags along persistently. Fading memories. Isn’t it surreal? I mean, can you precisely remember every day from your school life that happened decades back? Can you remember how you spent every second of your summer vacations? Can you remember how many times you fell from your cycle while trying to balance on the wheels?

Precision eludes me when it comes to recalling memories. That is also one of the reasons I blog. Because, someday when I sit on that rocking chair with silver grey hair and a cup of tea, I want to remember the people who have been a part of my life and, have made it so worthwhile and, so magnanimous with their blessings. And so, this post – which I dedicate to my paternal grandmother – Jayam pati who ascended to the higher realms of the spirit world on 26th April ’17 at around 9 AM.

She was running towards 90 and, the Almighty felt it was time to relieve her off her ailments and, embrace her. I am good at remembering certain phases with her. And yet, I do not have a precision factor associated with it. I did not have the privilege of having her in near vicinity in my growing years. However, there are some things I remember about her vividly and, those memories are the ones, rather the only ones I have of her, when I used to visit her with parents during vacations.

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Her silver white hair tied into a bun, the way she used to drape her 9 yard saree (the quintessential ombodugajam), the one time when she taught me and one more cousin about the tricks of the game – Palankuzhi, the way she used to make the chakris (murruku) and she used to do it so swiftly and flawlessly (the one time I tried when she had visited us in Bharuch and, I ended up making a mess), the seemingly free flowing fingers that weaved a bag out of plastic wires and, the smell of sandalwood talc she used in early years (a brief period when she stayed with us in Bharuch, the time when I was in college) now emerge as the beautiful patch of unbridled memories waiting to be revisited. The last I spoke to her was on my anniversary – 5th February and fortunately, hubby was in station and thereby, got a chance to speak with her. “Amogama Irrukanam, nanna irrukanam” was her trademark line that used to make me feel good every time she said it. And, she used to say it after she completed every sentence.

I have not had her around while growing up. However, many of my cousins have been blessed with that privilege. In fact, some of my cousins were raised by her. Today when I read their testimonials about how she was famous for her Kal dosai and, how beautifully she stitched uniforms for her grandchildren and how, she was a gifted story teller, I realize with a heavy heart that, I have been quite unaware of a major part of her personality given the distance and the place. And today, I profusely thank my cousins Shobana akka, Chitra akka, Lakshmi akka and Suja akka for giving me an insight into the life of Jayam Paati of whom I knew and yet, I knew not.

The eulogies from my cousins made me well with tears. After all, they were raised by this wonderful lady, my granny. Their grief at the moment is far greater than mine and, I can definitely feel the pain, the void has left behind. Perhaps, the one consolation that we all have as a family is, her demise was absolutely spiritual and that, she passed over peacefully with little pain. After all, God is kind and, Jayam Paati has earned her place alongside the stars above.

My father, her second progeny had this beautiful ritual of speaking with her twice a day. I used to overhear them talking about religion, politics, the unpredictable weather, the seventh pay commission, theBhajanais that were conducted in her presence and much more. However, after 26th April this year, I am not sure how he shall feel about those times windows he dedicated for his mother, to talk about the daily grind and, sundry. He has definitely dealt with a blow this time. I cannot possibly fathom the mixed emotions he has been dealing with since her demise. The day before my granny passed away, my father and I had a prolonged chat about her. He told me how her ailments have increased with time and how, the asthma that had been following her like a shadow for decades had only increased her health woes. She was on a limited water intake and, could not walk much around as she had earlier. I could only sigh in concurrence. And, when he did receive the news the next day, I could see his eyes trying to conceal the grief from me. For my father, she was his creator. And, her demise did take away a part of him. Although my father is the most balanced, practical and calm man I have ever met, I could sense the emotions brim over his serene demeanor this time. After all, a mother is a mother, be it 7 years or 70.

A demise of a loved one is a jolt. Having witnessed three in the past few months (one of my maternal uncle, one of a good friend – hubby’s course mate and now, my granny), I feel powerless at the moment before the Almighty. Every demise chips away something from us, a part of us ebbs away every time a loved one departs. But then, what destiny takes away from us, it also replaces those dented patches by giving back some more strength, some more courage and some more conviction to take life forward.

I am sure, my dear paati is in a happy place now, having joined her soul mate and her two sons who departed long back. A mother to eight, a grandmother to 14 and, a great grandmother to 16, Jayam Paati has lived a supremely blessed life. And, I am sure she is up there watching over us.

Amen.

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2 thoughts on “Jayam paati – I knew her, I knew her not.

  1. Beautifully expressed and written, Narayani! And very honest. 🙂 Death has this amazing ability to clean up things as it were and bring back perspective. Somewhere, when we are busy leading our lives, we tend to lose that or probably time makes it a bit misty for us to see clearly. And then the mist clears to reveal all thats beautiful. All that was always beautiful.

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