I never thought I would be writing this blog post today …. Even when the day before yesterday Latha called to say Mama was critical and she wanted Amma to speak to him over a video call, I didn’t think he would be gone today. Its unreal. Seenu Mama was the glue that held the Thiruvadi Iyengar family together. Amma and Mama were like twins, inseparable.
Seenu Mama, the youngest son of the Thiruvadi Iyengar family has reached Sriman Narayana’s Lotus feet today.
We were just finishing up our breakfast when Sudha called to inform me. I went in and told Amma… she broke down totally. From yesterday, she has been feeling a sense of foreboding. I became hopeful when Latha told me yesterday that Mama’s vitals were all stable and he was safe. He apparently asked for some water himself.
There are so many memories. My earliest memory is of me at the age of 8 insisting with Mama that I want to get my nose pierced that day. We were in my grandparents house in Tirunelveli. He tried reasoning with me to say it would be painful but I was adamant. He went and got the “thataan” and I got my nose pierced without a whimper. Then his shop … I have rummaged through all those fun things that he sold.
He got married and Sudha was born. Again during one of the summer holiday trips to Tirunelveli, I insisted on picking up Sudha from her cradle and dropped her !! She bawled, I bawled but thank goodness, Sudha was, is and will be fine for several decades more. Sometime in the 80’s Mama was a victim of mistaken identity and was badly injured. He pulled through that and all of us heaved a sigh of relief. We almost thought we had lost him then.
My memories are a little sketchy once I got into college. Mama was in Chennai by that time. I got married and Krishnan and I would visit Mama and Mami often in Chennai. He helped us by loaning money to us during our entrepreneurial days. Our bankruptcy shook him but he dealt with it. The next 12 years were a blur because we were getting out of our bankruptcy and his daughters were all growing up, going to college and getting jobs. Then dad passed away in Dec 2008.
Amma came to stay with us. The frequency of our contact increased with Mama. In Feb 2019, I planned a surprise birthday celebration for Amma with Mama coming over to Tirunelveli. He kept it all a secret and Amma was overjoyed to see him. He took us around “his” Tirunelveli. Wherever we went, he would say, just wait here for a few minutes, I will say hello to my friend and come back. He had so many friends all over Tirunelveli.
Where did the years go ?
Mama was the glue in my maternal side relations. He created the WhatsApp group with all his brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. If some of us like me and Shantha opted out of the group, he would still share important information with us. All his nieces and nephews today are talking amongst ourselves about how he was the binding factor.
I would tease Amma saying “Has Srinivasan read out the family news today?” He would call everyone. He would try and meet everyone. He lent his shoulder for many a cousin to cry on and basically just brought us all together. Except for two of my cousins, none of us could lend a shoulder to him today and to think he will never call again in this lifetime seems so unreal.
Even Krishnan got very emotional when the news came … thats how Seenu Mama was.
While philosophically we can deal with his passing on, it will be a really long time before it sinks in. He is back with his folks who have left before him, specially Thatha and Paati. Must be enjoying Pichamma Paati’s melt-in-the-mouth idlis that don’t get made by anybody anywhere.
Farewell Mama. May our paths cross again in another lifetime. May you be born again in your beloved Tirunelveli and enjoy that Lakshmi Vilas Tirunelveli Halwa again. Your daughters will carry on your legacy of being loving, caring and helpful. You should be so proud of them. Sudha, Latha and Geethu are so well brought up by you and Mami.
Much love and respects, Om Shanthi, Om Shanthi, Om Shanthi 🙏🏿