Usually when the phone rings so early in the morning, these are the two questions that pop up in our minds, "who," and "when." Recently we have acquired a caller identity phone and so the only question I should have asked was, "when." However, I said the usual "hello" and my brother-in-law said, "Chithappa passed away at 2.30am."
Chithappa was the youngest brother of my father-in-law and the last surviving member of that generation. My first reaction was along the lines of my mother-in-law’s "He escaped"(pozhachukindar), meaning, "he escaped further suffering." These are the words used whenever people pass away after prolonged suffering. He was 92 and had been confined to the four walls of his room for the past 4-5 years and would move with difficulty only to go the bathroom. He had had a fall 6 months ago and ever since he had been immobile and in great pain.He was fortunate to have a caring son and daughter-in-law and grandchildren who took care of his every need, his own wife having passed away 15 years ago. So "Pozhachukindar," was the right word to use.
After the initial enquiries about the funeral and other things, the impact of the early morning call started to sink in. Here we were all ready to leave for Delhi the next morning and from there to Hyderabad and thence to Bangalore, all tickets booked and ready in hand. So the first task was to cancel these tickets and book tickets to Chennai and back to attend the rites in connection with Kunjappa’s (that’s what we called him) passing.
All this rescheduling meant I had one week for myself, which I needed very badly. I thanked Kunjappa for his perfect timing and relaxed for a couple of days before I started doing my unfinished work.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
It has been more than a month since I sat to write a new blog post and what a busy and exhausting time it has been! I was actually all ready to post my Navarathri thoughts when I came down with a nasty viral fever that sapped the juice out of me. Even before I could recoup from the after effects of the fever, I came to Bangalore on a short visit, my itinerary all planned and I did not have a single moment’s free time. I had been away from Bangalore for 4 months and putting the house back in working condition takes days in ordinary circumstances. And here I had 50% of the household packed and 50% of the packed items shifted to another house. When we had planned our move to a newer place and packed our items and shifted half the things, our younger (need I say, h&c) son, called and put a stop to all the proceedings. “Give me some time, he said, before you take any decision about the move.” So we froze all our plans. And so when we returned from Hyderbad, also to receive our younger son back to India for good, our rooms still were packed with cartons. I was reminded of the story of Kanyakumari. Legend has it that, Adishakthi as a young girl (Kannika) was doing penance at the southernmost tip of India to win the affection of Lord Siva. As the incarnation of Adishakthi as Kannika was to slay the demon king Baanasura, the devas were not in favour of the marriage between devi and Lord Siva. Hence the muhurtham for the marriage was fixed before the daybreak. As the procession of the Bridegroom with his entourage was on way, one of the devas (I don’t remember if it was Lord Indra or Mahavishnu) in the guise of a rooster crowed heralding the day break. The bridegroom and party had to return as the muhurtham had lapsed. A disappointed Devi decided to remain a virgin and hence the name of the Goddess as Kanyakumari (virgin Goddess) As all the preparations for the marriage were already underway, all the vegetables and other things turned into stone and hence even today one can see stones in different shapes and multicolored sand on the Kanyakumari coast. Similarly, when our son asked us to stop our move, everything froze and the packed cartons remained where they were.The first job for us, then was to make room for our son and the baggage he was bringing. We had to once again fill the cupboards and lofts with the things we had emptied from them.
We were having heavy rains in Bangalore and the weather was chill. I started looking for blankets inside the cartons and after searching for few hours, realized that they have been shifted to the new premises. This meant a trip to the new place to bring the blankets and bedsheets back.
Our son returned home after spending 11 years in the US. We are feeling great. All our friends are saying, “how lucky you are, your son has decided to come back and spend time with you.” Until now, every time he came home on vacations, I would plan all the programs during his stay not to mention, the menu for each meal. This time around, I don’t get to see him at all as he is busy running around to get set up to start work as soon as possible. He continued to work from where he left at his office in US, from the moment he reached home. Getting a mobile and broadband connection took almost 3 to 4 days.
Our elder (also very h&c) son was also coming to meet his brother and this meant preparing another room. Diwali was around the corner. For the past 19 years, Diwali has meant “anniversary” of my father-in-law and preparations for the Sradham. I started looking for the special utensils meant for the sradham and of course they were all in the new flat.The incessant rain crimped our ability to move around at our will. Somehow we made the trip to the new place and brought back all the necessary things. The sradham was conducted to everyones satisfaction. Now we had to start taking stock of the inventory in the kitchen to the minimal required for our son to manage comfortably when he stayed here by himself. (We were going to Delhi to attend the seemaaantham of my sister-in-law’s daughter-in-law in another 4 days). Again hectic repacking and reorganizing. It was Saturday evening and my mind boggled with the list of things to do on Sunday, before we caught the flight on Monday early morning. I was not able to sleep and decided to get out of bed and start doing my chores at least. Then the phone rang.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Sorry for the long gap between posts. Between the festival season and my handsome and charming sons at home, I haven't had any time at all to post. I will soon have a couple Diwali posts up.