Wednesday, October 21, 2009

For my Venkutu Thatha...

When amma told me on the phone that her siblings and she were planning Thatha’s Sadhabishegam (his 80th b’day), I was surprised. Could my Thatha really be 80 yrs old ?! True, he has become thinner over the last few years but besides that, there is no change in his caring, enthusiastic, protective manner.

As I think about him (photo shows him holding me when I was a year old), I remember all the stories amma has told me over the years, all the times I have spent with him and I have to jot them down before I get too overwhelmed.

Thatha’s parents passed away when he was really young and he was brought up by his mama and mami. Having grown up without parents, he resolved to marry a girl who had grown up the same way and so came paati into the picture. They had 5 kids – 3 daughters and 2 sons. Actually this should be 6, since Thatha treated his younger brother like his own son. Thatha was the sole bread winner of the family and to this day, amma never ceases to talk about how well they were all brought up; right from having pattu pavadais for Diwali to georgette half-saris for college, right from having a good education to being married at the appropriate time. Amma’s stories of how no one ever slept past 6am and how no one ever was late for anything had initially scared me into thinking of Thatha as a headmaster but no one who interacted with him can ever be scared of him.

To me, visiting Thatha inevitably meant doing a namaskaram, getting money for that (:D), lots of eatables and above all, an extremely cheery welcome (va va va chowmee :D) and a lingering goodbye (he will keep waving from the balcony until he is out of my sight and I don't know when he stops) !

To this day, I cannot think of a single time or place when/where Thatha has asked me for a favour. Anytime I call him he will give me his wishes, ask about the weather, my well being and never once has he actually even hinted he needs me to get him something. The only time I did get him something was when I went back to India after my graduation in Germany – I got him a pullover since amma told me he goes out at nights and it gets chilly in Dec/Jan. When I gave it to him, although he was happy, he mildly chided me for wasting money!

Paati spent her last days in the hospital and Thatha was spinning between the hospital and the house. When she finally passed away, one could clearly see that a part of him was missing. Every now and then, he would fondly refer to ‘Mogam’ and talk about her; this would be followed by a few moments of silence. There is a common complaint that men do not express love explicitly as much as women but I believe this silence expresses volumes.

There is so much to list about Thatha; things he has done for as long as I have known him, things that amaze me, things I have not seen in anyone else.....

He is a teetotaler – have not even seen him eat vethalai.

He does Sandhyavandhanam thrice a day – even when he is traveling !

He goes to the temple almost every day – I would have ate millions of bananas that Thatha has brought me as prasadham

He visits his daughters in town atleast once every week (he lives with his son)

He remembers b’days of his kids, grand kids and more recently, even great-grand kids (shown in photo above)

He visits them on b’days, if they are in town, to give his blessings with Prasadham from the temple – Thatha has woken me up many times on my b’day.

He walks from Mandaveli to Mylapore almost everyday for something or the other.

He still takes the bus if he is not in the mood to walk, hates autos. – it is quite a scene to see Thatha bargaining with an autowallah.

He hates Manirathnam movies - I saw agni natchathiram with him in the theatre and I still crack up when I remember him saying during the climax ‘ennadi idhu, ivalo irutta irukku’…ROFL !

He loves Michael madana kama rajan – when I did mono acting of the thiruppu-kameshwaran scene in my cousin’s wedding, Thatha came to smiling and said ‘kalakkita po’ – until then, I did’nt even know that ‘kalakita’ was a part of his vocabulary :D !

The list will go on and I can talk about how I have never seen him asleep (this says more about me than about him, illa ? rolling eyes…) or sick or tired to do something but it would be easier to just summarise it in a sentence.

It is rare to find people who have led a happy, fulfilling, blessed life where they did their duties and more at every stage and it is a boon to know/be associated with them. Thatha is definitely one of them and I am proud of him (I hope he is proud of me too….) and although I will not be physically present in his Sadhabishegam, my thoughts will adhere to the chathiram walls and I will live through it with the photos I will get (Makkale, here is your cue, send me photos asap).

Happy Birthday, Thatha ! I know you wear white t-shirts, so here are a couple to your collection. I bet you said ''edhuku idellam'', as always :D !

Thanks for bringing up my chinna thatha, amma, periamma, chitti, mamas, me, my brother, my cousins, niece and nephew (in photo), thanks for taking care of all those you welcomed into the family by marriage, thanks for everything....

Thatha, be there for my kids too, I am sure they would love their kollu thatha as much as I do or even more :)


  1. Very moving post Sowmya.
    I vividly remember your thatha and paati.They made a very good couple.Very calm and ever smiling.

    I wrote a similar post long ago about my Paati


  2. Brought back a lot of memories.. Thanks a lot Sowmya..
    I send my e-namaskarams and best wishes to your thathaa too :)

  3. ‘kalakkita po’ - Meant the TShirt ... :)

    Wonderful Thatha ...

    And I am still on the wait for ur post on "Amma" ...

  4. @Rajesh

    thanks, Thatha stills asks me about 'Brindha mami' :D, will check out ur post too

    thanks, will do

    thanks and am working on the amma post, sometime this month

  5. :-)

    Remembered about my thatha :-)

  6. Very nice !!.. Irrespective of the genre, you are a superb narrator ma'm !.. when is your next post ??


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