We call our maternal grandpa as Babu thatha. My earliest memory of him was visiting him in Manamadurai, where he was a station master. After retiring as a station master, he continued to work in other capacities in other places until he was 70. That he worked for as long as he could was important to him because it meant he was self-sufficient and physically active. Amma would take Sathya and me to his “office”, and he would pamper us with “color” (sodas) and paneer sodas. He bought me “disco” paavadai and introduced us to noingu. He loved his plants and would care for them with his life. May be my mom inherited her green thumb from him. His garden boasted of several bounties – lemon, pomegranate, jackfruit, and jasmine to name a few. Before going to work he would recite slokams for an hour and a half, and we would eagerly wait for the prasadam call. He would dole out special gifts from his old bureau. He was a devoted husband, helping patti in the kitchen, picking saris for her, and nurturing her love for bead art. The kind of support that was not as common for that generation. He always preferred to drink hot water, and would not let us go to bed without a tumbler of pasum paal, no added sugar. And what is Bhogi without a visit from thatha. He would dutifully visit us, sugarcane in hand, and other groceries in tow. I vaguely remember his Sashtiabdhapoorthi. Thatha and patti being showered with a kodam of blessed water. My amma is her daddy’s daughter. You can say that she has a soft spot in her heart by the pride in her voice, and sparkle in her eyes as she talks about her dad.
Until a couple of months back, thatha was as healthy as you can expect a soon-to-be-90-year old person to be. No BP, no cholesterol, no sugar. Just age related aches and pains. But then he fell, and had to undergo surgery. He never recovered from it. He went through unsurmountable suffering these past two months. He passed away around 2:45 P.M. on August 12th.
Babu thatha lived a full life. He has seen, not one, two, but six great grandchildren. He added his grandpa touch to our childhood and has created a lot of fond memories. He had a kanakabhishekam with patti a couple of years back, which I hear is a rarity. My heart goes out to patti. How does one live life without a companion of 60 odd years?
Rest in peace thatha. Thank you for being you. We love you and will carry you in our hearts and memories. Today and always.