So much to ask mom now but work has swallowed a lot of time in the past couple of days. And when I think I ll go ask mom to continue, its too late in the night and she is fast asleep.
Most of my childhood went in my mother teaching me for hours together. Time would fly by apparently until my paatti used to intervene with major drama and say its time to give me some food. 5 hours. 6 hours. Sometimes 8 hours, I have heard my mother would have teach me non stop.
But very early childhood was a different story. I hear I used to start wailing and bawling as soon as my mother took the Tanpura in her hands to start singing. Maybe I felt insecure about another object taking space in her lap.
Patience was never something I saw when Amma taught me. I had to repeat what she sang, the next instant. Or she would say if you can't repeat after having told you once, you are a rank idiot. I have heard of a lot of anecdotes of the Guru egging the student on with caustic remarks so that they perform better. And be acutely attentive. Somehow she seemed to have copious amounts of patience for other children. She was too kind and patient, I always thought which she never exhibited in me. I also fought with her once for the 'partiality' that she showed to others over me on that. To this day, I believe that some of the students that learned under her during that Gurukula project learned far more than I did in the lifetime I have spent with her.
Talking of early childhood in Mumbai, I was a kid that only spoke Marathi. Mom went to work. I was in the care of paatti. And during this time she made sure I became a right-hander from a left-hander. She taught me to write அ ஆ and all of that on a slate with a balpam. She took me to school and played with me with my "choppu set" of making tea and coffee and food and everything. To this day I wonder how we managed to communicate. With me bantering in Marathi, she could speak no language but Tamil. How did I ask her what I wanted? How did she know? Even my prayers used to be in Marathi as my "Ajji" who took care of me in Day-care whenever paatti had to be in Madras had taught me a Lakshmi prayer in Marathi. Gharaath Kida Pida Bahar Jao... ____ chi Lakshmi Gharaath aeo. I forget what-chi Lakshmi it was. That used to be the concluding line.
School in Bombay was interesting and to my teachers I was a 'problem child'. A problem because I finished entire text books in one day. English in one day. And every other book and say "Finish". I once got slapped for it and came home with a swollen cheek. Mother went and politely enquired what the issue was. The teacher was barely 20. She didn't know how to deal with a child who completed an entire year's work in one day. My mother then convinced the teacher to get me new books and send her the bill. I guess this 'disease' continued for quite a while. I still remember doing that with my workbooks years later so that I could sit smugly through class. The only thing that terrorized me was mathematics. It haunted me until my 10th grade. Somewhere some concept was not explained well and everything went downhill from there. I never knew what the problem was. A straight 100 report card until the 6th standard saw a downward arrow in mathematics alone. It was a miracle I passed my 10th math board exams. Thank God. I kicked the subject then. Pythagoras was my nemesis. I loved algebra and everything else but I hated the concept of proving that a triangle is a triangle. And not anything else. Sigh. I played around with the idea of taking up medicine but they said medicine meant I had to top in mathematics. Figured I'd reach the hangman's noose than the stethoscope and let go of a wish to be a doctor. I could still be a healer. But there is still time for that.
Silently have I watched this lady I call my Mom/Padmhasini/Amma. Silently have I watched the people that she worked with, the people who felt insecure, the parents of other kids, trauma and grief many a times and her swallowing and bearing quite a bit to bring me to where I am today. When I met my paati a couple of years ago and my chinna paatti a few days ago, they had pretty much the same things to say about amma. "Romba Narayya pattuta" (She has suffered a lot). From the family, from others. From more or less a lot of people. And because she remained and remains the same firebrand she is a lot of my colleagues couldn't take it either. Forthright and no bullshit defines her. And if there are people who had issues with that, I figured there was something shady in the first place. Those shades came to light pretty soon.
Several times when Vairamuthu sir met us at events he almost always introduced my mother saying "Ivanga Deivam.. " and pointing to me he would say "Ivanga Deivam thandha poo".
To be continued....