Of all the posts I've written so far, I find this post the hardest to write. The toughest tributes have got to be the ones written for people you've known the longest and loved the best. Nothing I say can be enough.
In life we form relationships with many people. Some relationships are strong bonds with people who mean a lot to us (e.g. parents, siblings, close friends etc.), some are in the middle ground - neither this nor that, and some relationships exist because both individuals are alive and kicking and/or because the path of individuals intersect somewhere in time (e.g. hi-bye friends or relatives whom we meet sporadically).
Of all the relationships that exist in this world, the one between grandmother and grandson is THE most special. It is a special bond that is very difficult to put in words.
My Paati (Paati is the tamil word for grandmother) is an influential figure in my life. She is everything to me. After my mum, she is the first person to see me. From paaladai to ooti-vittufy, she has fed me. She has told me stories. She introduced God to me. She taught me how to pray. She taught me the value of having values, the importance of doing one's duty, to love unconditionally. From her, I learnt how to be soft and yet strong, how to be innocuous and still be assertive...Most importantly, I learnt who I am and who I can be.
My Paati is not a run-of-the-mill Paati. When I say 'Paati', if you picturize an old lady, frail, wearing a white sari, lips silently chanting a sloka with prayer beads on fingers - you are greatly mistaken. My Paati is very enterprising and dynamic. She is a businesswoman and entrepreneur. Born in the generation where women from orthodox Tamil Brahmin community were married before they finished high school, she also got married in her early teens and was determined enough to finish her Masters degree in Cosmetology. In the era where most married women with more than 2 kids were content being a housewife or at most work in the safe haven of a Government job, she established a herbal beauty clinic, expanded it and ran it successfully for 20+ years and along the way did a splendid job of raising three successful kids. In the age where people settled with decent income wouldn't consider upgrading themselves professionally by studying further, she ran the family and studied to specialise in Aroma therapy. Finally, when she is physically old and the body seem to dish out the vagaries of old age, the last thing you would expect her to do is a gruelling trek in the Himalayas. My Paati did a 1-month trip to Mt Kailash and Manasarovar Lake in the Nepal-China border. She did extensive preparation for the trip to be physically and mentally fit. She did it!
My Paati is a lady with strong sense of style and class (No wonder she is a beautician!). A class that you will feel with the way she speaks, carries herself and her immaculate dress sense. She moves with great poise and dignity. Her generosity of spirit and her unselfish capacity to care has touched many people. In more ways than ever, she is a source of inspiration to me and to everyone around her. She always tells me "Sriramaaa, saadhikanum! Namma unnum yenna pannalaam-nu paakanum. Seiyara kaariyatha, innum eppdi nanna seiyalaam paakanum!. Nambaloda kadamai thavaraama seiyanum". Words that'll always hold true.
People dream. They aspire to do lots of things. Many aspire, but only few steadfastly work towards it and realise the dream. My Paati is one of the few. I believe she has achieved her dreams. Her life is punctuated with many challenges which she has overcome with grit, hardwork, determination and sense of faith. To me, my Paati is a real achiever and a true all rounder.
Today is Mothers day. My Paati turned 66 last Friday. Whatever I've written is a humble attempt to say thank you to my Paati. Paati, I love you.
My Paati. My inspiration.