We were completing our meeting with Shashaank yesterday, when I heard the news. We quickly wrapped up our meeting and I called Shantha over WhatsApp. Its never easy losing one’s mother … and particularly for Shantha because her father passed away when she and Padma were quite young and Periyamma raised them almost single-handedly !
The last time I had spoken to Periyamma and Shantha was in 2012, a few years after Appa passed away. At that time I had written a short blog about how Periyamma is the reason for me to be here – Thiruperai Periyamma. Our family is huge and Periyamma had gotten a little aloof after Periyappa’s passing. There are several cousins whose children have got married and many of us haven’t managed to attend weddings or know about their grandchildren. Large families without FB and other social media tools find it difficult to stay in touch because everyone moves out to different locations/countries and life takes its own twists and turns. Sometimes, you just want to be away from it all.
Strangely, when Periyamma became unwell a few years back, Shantha and I became friends – we realised we had several things in common and kept chatting over WhatsApp regularly.
I have always thought of Periyamma as a role model, a strong woman who didn’t get easily rattled and was very clear about priorities in life. My mother shares a very special bond with Periyamma (her fourth eldest sister) because Amma was practically brought up by Periyamma and then of course, Appa reported to Periyappa when he was posted in Dehu Road. It was Periyappa who showed my mother’s photographs to dad and got their marriage alliance fixed. When my father passed away and Amma came to live with us, she did struggle initially with our way of life. Periyamma called her, and advised Amma to take life as it unfolded and to adjust to every new circumstance in life… most importantly, she told Amma that she should now stay with me and Krishnan and never alone. Even while remaining aloof, Periyamma influenced Amma’s life during important junctures. Shantha and her husband decided not to have children and that was a very bold decision for their time …. She inspired me to take a similar decision and am glad that Krishnan and I also decided not to have children.
I can feel Shantha’s sense of loss – she knows Periyamma is in a better place, but then again, not being able to see her and not being able to have a conversation with her are things that time never heals. The mind being rational understands that life and death are two sides of the same coin, but the heart feels a void when you lose a loved one…. she is her mother’s daughter and will soon get back to a happy space.
Periyamma, thanks for being a role model for many of us who didn’t interact with you closely but knew about the hardships you faced with so much courage and spunk. Thanks also for bringing Shantha and me closer and letting us discover a happy friendship. Goodbye, till we meet again on yet another crossroad and connect again through a different string of relationships.