Pattu Patti


My *patti known to us grandkids (at last count, I believe there’s 21 of us) as Pattu Patti, was a beautiful, talented and loving human being. I always thought my *thatha married way up.

I am not going to talk about her convent-educated English or her tremendous musical talent, or how she kept up with the news via “The Hindu” all her life, or the fact that she pretty much gave it all up to raise 13 (10 surviving, 3 lost) children, getting married at the very tender age of 13. 

This is about my own personal memories of my patti, and what she meant to me.

My earliest memory is of her consoling me because I was sad about something and did not want to eat my dinner – I think I was missing my mom, and had been teased by my aunts/uncle about something. I was probably 4 or 5 years old. She took me to the verandah (balcony) away from everyone, and fed me my dinner, most likely accompanied by a story.

The next time she fed me with her hands was the night before my wedding, when I had mehndi all over my hands and feet.

The security of that unconditional love has stayed with me all my life.

I have never heard her raise her voice in anger – ever. Or even get angry. I don’t know how that is possible but she was the gentlest human being I have ever known. I know I have failed at this with my children, but it’s something I aspire to, with my grandchildren.

Whenever I went to Madras for summer vacations, when I was little, I always slept with my patti, listening to Indian mythological stories. I was always her companion to the temple “katha” evenings. I believe she and my dad certainly had something to do with my love for the lost art of story telling (aside from the diabetes and the high blood pressure J).

As I grew up, got married and got busy with my own life, I saw patti infrequently on visits home wherever she was. Age and illness did nothing to diminish her gentle smile. The only thing missing was her beautiful “pottu” in her trademark vadamalli color (a kind of majenta/purple).

When she passed away last year, I had a rather strange experience. As I walked in to my office talking to my sister about my grandma, I vaguely registered a crow (stay with me, I am truly not crazy) on a pole right by my car, where I had never seen one before – it was cawing insistently.

I went in, and then it hit me – and came running out, but it was gone. I truly believe it was a message from my grandma, saying goodbye to me.

On February 10, 2015 it would be a year since she left this earth for a better place and time.

Love you always, patti!


*Patti – grandmother, in Tamil

*Thatha – grandfather, in Tamil


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vyju Manian
    Feb 02, 2015 @ 12:02:44

    Lovely… reminds me of Mylapore amma – missed her terribly at my wedding. I did wear her 9 yds for Govind’s poonal though and I felt like she was there with me,



  2. sri
    Feb 07, 2015 @ 10:07:51

    I know the feeling, Indu. 🙂



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