We call our parents appa, and amma only, where as appa is ‘neenga’, amma is ‘nee’ which itself says amma is close to us. .We are gifted to have them as our parents, the most beautiful and wonderful pair together! We feel proud that they are so beautiful. A good pair for each other
Appa commanded immense respect in whatsoever place was he and people were so impressed by his straight forwardness and good nature.
Appa is a terror to everyone in the family his name is ‘Gangu ‘short form of Gangadharan it sounds like a gangster’s name , but very kind and loving at heart. His looks with look alike of Shubas Chandra Bose, very serious stern and scary but he is like a coconut very tender inside.
As far as I know him he was always a Hitler who was very strict with us just opposite of my amma. His rolling eyes when he conditioned us would frighten us.
As a father he was strict and firm with us in all ways. Firstly he wanted to give us a healthy life, Periodical castor oil drinking on Sundays in turn to clean our systems, Oil bath on Sundays with’ poondu rasam’ was a regular feature.
When we were in Tirunelveli, we were forced to take spoonful pure Cod-liver oil, and we were not supposed to move from the place for 5 min. Definitely a BIG NO to pickles. What we did was to take a full ‘nellikkai ‘[goose berry] and chew it after food, it so happened [and it was very clear that children are always children;] we were caught once when he found the seed in the’ mutram’ in Chengam, and the rest is history.
In Chengam we were forced to wear colorful sweaters [green with mithai pink, blue with orange full sweaters] to school. As he was the Bank officer we had the privilege of watching the movie by sitting in the balcony, and going to the theatre in a bullock-cart. The cost of the ticket was 75 paise only.
We are eight children born to them-with two boys in between dead; otherwise we would have been ten! The irony in appa’s life here was he was made to be the Chief Guest to a Family Planning Programme and my first younger brother was acting in the drama.
When we were in a joint family, he was the one mostly who would put us’ sadam pisaindu’. We had a tough time if any one of us was hurt. We had to sit close to each other and a majority of time it was the knee injury only and it was invariably my elder brother. Being girls was a blessing in disguise as we had the skirts to cover up our injury, lo, boys no escape or relief. But we were very co-operative in this regard; we would adjust ourselves so well it was not detectable.
Some times appa’s genuine care of preparing the rice mix with ‘sambhar, rasam ‘would make us lose patience. The reason was not only was he particular with the mixing but also making a ball out of it to give us. He would not like to see not even a drop of morsel of rice or any thing on the floor. Next is water, no one was allowed to drink water in between meals; a glass of it was kept for emergencies only.
Thanks to him I still have the habit of not taking water at the time of meals, which has been proved healthy. But appa’s habit of adding water to all items in the plate is an exception only for him. During winter it was’ paal sadam’ compulsory for all. If some one else other than him doing this for us, we could take the liberty of not only talking at the time of food but also we could say no to them if we did not like the food.
It was a regular to finish lunch by 12.30 or so on Sundays. After food we would help in chores, and later we were packed like sardines in periappa’s room by appa. Both periappa and appa preferred the room to be dark and would use the bed sheets as’ purdah’. We would only wait for them to fall asleep one by one in sign language signal each other and stealthily escape. Some times we were lucky some times some of us would be caught and no escape; we had to sleep. You must be wondering where we were going or what was the’ Thalai pogira vishayam.’ It was only to spend the noon the way we like it. For appa playing means nothing but getting hurt and spoiling health.
‘Aduvum thappi thavari kannaku kettal pochu, appavukku X vachhi than solli thara theriyum aanal schoolil X vachhi kidayyadu, the point is he would never come to the point, all we had to do was to send SOS to amma in the kitchen. Some how the message would reach amma and she came to our rescue by asking all of us to come for dinner. The only option left was to ask my elder sis not in the presence of appa.
After my maternal uncle the first person to have a car was Appa when we were in Tirunelveli in1969. He had a black ambassador car- OSV, MSV 1459 initially we hired a driver Ratnam. That car had made many trips to kanyakumari, tiruchendur, kutrallam, manimutharu, Madurai, papanasm and suchindram Sivagangai, Tirupathi, Bangalore and Madras.
It was a nightmare to us if appa had to drive, not because we had no trust but it was because he would take his own time to start and would not speed. Many times when we had to take the town route to reach the temple and the roads were narrow. Sometimes small boys from nowhere would cross the road. Appa irritated, would stop the vehicle and call those boys and scold them, then only he would start the car. On highways he had gone in 7o km speed. Many days he had dropped us to school, firstly dropping my younger brother in St. John’s and us in Sarah Tucker School. We were mostly late but the Head Mistress never punished us but we had felt bad. Appa was famous those days. We always had big houses in the area. He never went on his own whether it was admission, or anything for that matter. He had many office assistants who had done it happily.
Any good movies, esp. K.R.Vijaya, Padmini, Sowcar Janaki, Shivaji, k. Balachander and so on, we all went after the seats were reserved in balcony. We would eagerly wait for the soft drinks to be served to us. Some times we had told Muthukrishnan [peon in SBI, later appa made him a clerk] to tell appa to send us for movies, he had picked us and dropped us home. Appa was a respectable person in the society; the ladies who were filling water in the street once sighted appa- went inside and only after appa entered inside the house they came out.
He has helped many people to get employment in SBI, those days with his mere recommendation.
He is a good son to his parents-- never took the side of wife or kids in front of patti, an obedient younger brother to his brother and elder sister , an affectionate elder brother to his younger ones, scary mama to his nieces and nephews. He never once spoke ill of his brothers or sisters or any relatives. He has accepted them for what they are. He knows there is no use in grumbling or finding fault with others. If at all he wanted to say he has said in the presence of the person, not giving room for gossip.
He is good at soul and never cursed or wished bad for anyone, believed in destiny. Because of his good heart and pure soul, we, his children, could come up in life on our own if not millionaires at least are able to live a comfortable life. He was mocked for bearing many children those days. I can understand how amma might have felt when people around talked about this. I am happy that he is taken a good care of by his children especially his daughters-in-law.
At times he is adamant and nothing can be done because he is like a child in many ways, sticking to what he feels.
He has self tutored himself to astrology and is consulted by many kith and kin. It is good that appa to my knowledge never had any hobbies but has planned a nice retired life. It is one way good that considering his hearing loss he could devote much of his time to reading thus utilizing his valuable time for his interest. Maximum he used to read ‘Anantha vikatan’ ,’kumudam’,’ kalki’ but later he started reading more of 'jyothidam 'related books.
In spite of his tennis elbow and vertigo he kept straining his health, which is not advisable at this age. His loss of hearing doesn’t deter him from saying’ no’ to serials. He plans his ‘parayanam,’ and ‘sandya vandanam ‘as per the timing of the serials.
BUT - at 86 -now he is really sick [today 20 th of Sep. 2009], twice he has been saved by God after going critical. We, his children, all have spent some time with him whenever he was admitted in SMF. I pray that he keeps good health; gets to see my nephew’s marriage in November, he has fixed the date, and is eager to attend also. Hope God hears our prayers, and also God should not make him suffer!