Friday, July 29, 2022


My mother was born in a different era. Daughters had to be married off early, the sooner the better. My maternal grandfather was a man of his times, and my mom was married to her own cousin when she was just eleven. (Marriages between cousins, subject to certain conditions, were an accepted norm then.) 

Her marital life was troubled, to put it mildly. She had her first son when she was just fifteen. And a couple of years into motherhood, her son turned out to be an invalid, who needed full time support. Two other sons followed and each one had their own health scares, thanks to marrying within the family. Financially too, they were not well off as my dad was not one to hold a stable job. An accident left him disabled and he had limited mobility. All of this is hearsay to me as I was not born then. 

I was born to my mom when she was thirty-six, a full twenty-one years after her first born. My eldest brother was stuck to his chair. My second brother was off to college and my third brother was completing high school when I was born. I was raised in Kallidaikurichi, a village near the southern end of India. Despite the passage of time, things were not much different at home. But my mother provided a stable household for us to grow. We may not have had luxury, but we were never left wanting. 

She was tenacious, she was street smart and she was positive. She might have had her bitterness on what life dealt her, but she never let it contaminate how she lived. She instilled the values we stand by, and she led by example. She was a survivor. She survived the loss of her first born after taking care of him full time for thirty-seven years. She survived the near loss of her third son twice over. She survived being uprooted and made to start laying roots in different places time and again. She had lived in the quaint village in a large household first and then be on her own, she managed in a single room when one of her sons was recuperating in a hospital after an accident. She had moved from one rental place to another before she had a place, she could call her own. She survived the loss of her husband. She survived cancer. And she never let any of these get to her. 

Having gotten married at such an early age, her formal education was not past elementary school. But she was a woman of many talents. She was a wonderful cook and even today there are people who talk of one meal they were served many decades ago. She never let anyone who visited us go with an empty stomach. We shared what we had. She would make appalams, vadaams and pickles and send them out to the extended family. She could sew and stitch, she could knit, she could string a garland with flowers from the backyard and loved swimming in the nearby river. Her kolam skills were legendary and she was sought after during weddings and other occasions. 

Despite the lack of formal education, she read a lot and was ready to learn new things. She was an avid listener of carnatic music and was a regular in attending concerts. Till late in her life, would complain that her parents stopped her from learning the music. She knew tomes and tomes of shlokas by heart and was an active participant in temple activities. She moved with the times and mastered use of smart phones and tablets too. Despite language barriers, she was enterprising enough to fly back to India from the US on her own when she was in her seventies. 

She, through her actions, instilled strong values in us. The three remaining sons of her, have our own interests and lifestyles. But we all have common traits of compassion, righteousness, hospitality, etc. that we have ingrained from her. I do not consider myself as the ideal son by any measure. I have been silly, I have quarreled, I have been immature and in retrospect should have done many things that I did not and not have done many that i did do. But she loved us the same, nevertheless. 

All three of us were fortunate to have her and our dad with us as we climbed the ladder of financial independence and were able to take care of her to the best of our abilities. We tried to provide her, at least during her later life, what she did not have at her prime. She saw her sons get married, her grandsons and granddaughter growing up and the birth of her great grandson. She lived a full life. She was no saint. She was a regular woman with her own minuses, her grey areas, her misgivings. Let us keep them aside just today. 

But time left its effect on her. Cancer ravaged her body and weakened her mind. She fought and survived cancer but it did take its toll. It was difficult to see the brave woman reduced to a shadow of herself. Someone who started forgetting everything, someone who slowly lost the will to fight. I am halfway across the globe and was helpless, but I know my brothers and my sisters in law gave her their best during her sunset years. 

At 86, she breathed her last this morning. Her end, in a way is a relief, as she need not suffer any more. She may have left her mortal coils, but she has left behind her indelible stamp on us and a truck load of memories. 

Thank you, Mom, for everything. Take rest now.



அருமையான நினைவு அஞ்சலி ...நிறைய திரும்பி பார்க்க வைத்தது . இங்கு லலிதா சஹஸ்ரநாமம் குரூப் என்று ஒரு சத்சங்கம் குழு இருக்கிறது , ஒரு முறை , அதில் எல்லாரும் அவரவர் தாயார் பற்றி ஒரு பத்து நிமிஷம் பேசி அனுப்புமாறு கேட்டு கொள்ள பட்டார்கள்,,,,அது ஞாபகம் வந்தது.


So so beautifully written!!! Feels blessed to have also met her in person. An inspiring individual... She stays in our fond memories forever.


மிகவும் வருத்தமான செய்தி. எத்தனை வயதானாலும் அம்மாவின் இடத்தை யாராலும் நிரப்ப முடியாது. ஆழ்ந்த வருத்தங்கள். அவர் ஆன்மா நற்கதி அடையப் பிரார்த்தனைகள்.


She was a wonderful sister also. After my mother's demise, she assumed the role of a mother towards me!


ஆத்மா சாந்தியடையப் பிரார்த்தனைகள்.


Great and candid tribute. May her soul rest in peace.🙏 She was a survivor and fighter. An inspiration to all. (I am from the Venba group)