death, family, bereavement, life
Witnessing death is a strange feeling. There is something surreal about the pain, the shock, the inability of being able to avert what is going to come, and the very act of seeing someone go. Sriram, my first cousin, my brother, had a painful end last Tuesday, September 10th. He was just 42 and just in the middle of an important innings, nowhere close to the slog overs. Blessed with a wonderful wife, two adorable daughters, and an aging father, he had a life to look forward to. An infected liver because of jaundice, and his resorting to alcohol, did him in. Just the previous week, he was showing all signs of recovery. He succumbed to sudden multiple internal hemorrhages and was on life support the last four days of life before giving up. Will dearly miss my brother, though it is nothing compared to the loss my perippa, my SIL and my nieces are left to deal with. My younger niece, aged 9, is gazing at the azure every night because that is where I told her dad will be. One among the stars. Looking down at her and her akka aged 13. Smiling and appreciating every little and big thing they both do. Blessing them from there while mommy stands by them as a huge pillar of strength, educating and empowering them, helping them learn what is right and wrong, to help discern good from the bad. With the rest of us aunts, uncles, and grandpa to back her up and be there for them. Always. Rest in peace ra Srirama!
In another unexpected turn of events, Kolla, Vasu’s dear grandma, bid adieu last Friday, September 13th. I had blogged about Kolla here and here. She was a wonderful old woman with a lot of zest for life. She believed in living life to the fullest. Diet control to her was blasphemy. She used to have the spiciest, sourest, sweetest, saltiest, and bitterest of foods. A small bowl of ‘gotsu’ she made as accompaniment for her small bowl of Ven-Pongal, consisted of a minimum of 15 green chillies, tamarind the size of a huge lemon, an equal measure of jaggery, salt, and twice that amount of oil. She’d wipe her plate clean of pickles before I headed home from work. She used to hate me for my constant ‘No’ to her freaky diet, but loved me for everything else. She loved all her grand-children, though the grand-daughters were her favorite! She woke up to the Tamizh daily- Dina Malar. Her favorite news item was the going rate of gold and silver. She used to read the entire paper in installments, till 3.00 PM. The Tamizh soaps kept her occupied till 10.00 PM. She had read the paper and watched all the soaps the previous day. Kolla (or Kollas), as she was fondly called by her 8 great-grand-kids instead of kollu-patti, hit a sugar-level of close to 500 (and ironically, it was the week where she seemed to have resorted to some diet control) and was hospitalized early in the morning. She had a massive, silent attack in the late after-noon and had a quiet, calm death. Kolla style. Rest in peace Kolla patti.
“Ellaam siva mayam endru solluvaargal. Aanaal, enakku ellaam bhayamayam” is a fitting intro to the other (Tenali) side of my otherwise brave boy Vyas:)
Vyas had a regular visitor peeking at him from the wall whenever he stepped into the loo. No, not lizards, cockroaches or the like. It was Kamsa with a ‘golden gadhai’ or the mace! “Amma, please stand guard at the door” he used to plead.
Me: How can he? Isn’t he dead?
Vyas: I don’t know. He comes and grins evilly.
Me: Smile back or kick him then.
Vyas: I can’t! Am scared.
Me: It’s your imagination. You are imagining it because you have been watching/reading the story of Krishna!
Vyas: But I also watch Ben10!
Me: You are probably thinking about the inexorable ways of Kamsa?
Vyas: It’s all because of that stupid prophecy!
Me: Of his death?
Vyas: Yesssss. Why was he warned about Devaki’s child?
Me: Ummm… (I too wonder why…)
Vyas: He would not have killed all those babies at least!
Me: You have a point. But first things first. Are you done?
Vyas: Wait till I flush!
Varun’s coming has somehow magically relieved us of the role of ‘Dwarapalakas’. The little one now plays that part instead:) Yes, he stands guard right from the time the anna brushes his teeth, till he packs up his books late in the evening after his school work and puts off the light in his room! “Aei Varun, anna kooda andha room-kku variyada?” the elder one would ask if he has to get to his room after dusk. The little one is ever obliging and trots after (or sometimes leads) the anna!! A sight to behold.
PS: Do share your side of the stories!
The village home with a sprawling backyard is as close to the nature as it can get. A very low wall, just about 2 feet high, made of mud, straw, a few broken plastic buckets and tubs, sand bags, separates us from our wild friends, a tiger or two, spotted cheetahs, a fox, many rabbits and a couple of dogs. A cool dark well
which is the only source of water lies beyond that wall, in the thickets.
My mother-in-law carries a huge straw basket and a bucket on one hand, and walks up to the well wielding a huge stick on the other. The house has two huge doors opening into this backyard and I sit just at the stairs to this entrance and watch Vyas play beyond that wall, near his grandma. He walks a little further into the coppice when I call out to him to signal him about the beast that is watching him from the tree-top only to discern the loss of my voice! There is such a thing as ‘luck’ after all as he, intuitively, retraces his steps and walks back towards the well and I wonder where my M-I-L has disappeared! This time I find my voice and beckon him inside, but he pays no heed and instead takes a diversion, swerves to his right, away from the well and there is that orange-black striped beauty looking up at him annoyed at being woken up from his siesta.
“Vyas, don’t touch him. He is awake, come back in here!”, I bellow. The boy panics and makes a dash towards my outstretched arms only to be overtaken by the spotted beast that was watching him all the while. It stands long and tall between the two of us and am scared to instruct the next action to my boy, for this cheetah understands the language, and again, I struggle to find my voice.. Fear is writ all over his face and I feel hot and flushed…
“Ma, Varun is awake already” Vyas whispered into my years. His eyes, looking extra large and more beautiful without the spectacles, wore that expression of, “whats wrong lady?” and he pointed in the direction of the little warm body lying across my feet, awake, and babbling away.. I took a deep breath and drew my boys closer, felt them, and held on to them… My boys are safe in my arms this time..