My paternal patti, Andu patti as we called her, passed away yesterday afternoon. This week she would have turned 88 years old.
Some memories are more vivid than others. The early part of my childhood is rich with memories of my thatha and patti. As an infant, I grew up under their care in Bombay, which I don’t have a recollection of. My earliest memories of them are from when we were in Madras during my childhood years. I remember tagging along with patti wherever she went – visiting extended families, going on hospital visits, sleeping overnight in kalyana chathram, going to Bombay to visit my chithappa, and staying in my athai’s house. I remember the identical pedal pushers (I think that’s what it was called, a cross between capris and jumpsuit) she stitched for my cousin and me. I remember building parks and zoos while setting up golus. I remember her fascination for gymnastics and dance.
My grandparents went to the US for sometime to stay with my chithappa and family. I remember looking forward to letters from thatha and patti. I also remember the stories patti would narrate after her trip – the clean roads and the speed limits. She would write stories from I Love Lucy show in a notebook so she could narrate it to us. She learnt to make French braids from the shows she watched in the US and would practice it on me.
The year before I got married, Sathya and I stayed in my chithappa’s house with my grandparents, chithappa, chithi and cousins. My patti’s sari for my wedding matched with mine. I remember how deftly she would wash and dry her 9 yards sari. I remember the joy she would take in making and distributing bakshanam. She sewed her own blouse for the longest time. Making herself useful to others was very important to her. She was the eldest daughter in her family and the eldest daughter-in-law in the family she married into. She was the matriarch in our very patriarchal family. She has touched so many lives, in small ways and big.
The last few years of her life was very rough on her. She was resilient, bouncing back from hip surgery and several falls. If physically taking care of her was hard, seeing her deteriorate physically and mentally was several times more painful. She did her best to stretch her time here.
A shout out to my parents for taking care of my patti with dignity and to the best of their abilities. Their lives have revolved around patti for the past few years and for the past several months they cared for her like an infant, anticipating her needs and tending to her. Her life came to a full circle, right in front of our eyes.
Patti, we miss you. I feel fortunate to have had all that time with you and thatha. For all the love you showered on us. We love you in loads and will keep you in our hearts forever. Rest in peace.