Sometime back my younger sister-in-law asked me, "Akka what is this kakkai kalile letter your brother has been saying?" When I asked my brother what it was, he said “I was telling her even if akka sends a letter tied to the leg of a crow, anna would visit her”. He was referring to my immediate younger brother who lives in the same city as I do and whenever I need him I just have to call him and he will come immediately. This is in reference to a story we were told as children.
However, whenever this kakkai kal (crow's leg) letter is referred to, I am always reminded of the close relationship shared by my grandmother (Echiyamma) and her brother (whom we used to affectionately address as Amman). My grandmother had three brothers, of whom two lived in the same village as she (Puthucode). Amman was the eldest of the three and my Echiyamma and Amman shared a special bond. She just had to think of him and he would be there. He was a great Yajurveda scholar (His name was Anantharaman but was more popularly known as Chami Vadhyar) and as such was always busy with various poojas and yagnas and often was outside Puthucode. Whenever he was in Puthucode he would definitely visit her at least once a day. Echiyamma never took a big decision until she had consulted with Amman.
I can, to this day, visualize him sitting opposite our Echiyamma in the tharamelthara (this is a raised platform in the living room where people would sit) or on the floor next to her easy chair where she would be reclining. The children would be gathered around listening to them as they had some interesting tales to share. He would narrate all that happened on his tours and she would bring him up to date with all that happened at home.
Our Amman had a great sense of humor and was very affectionate towards all of us. He would enthrall us with all the stories he had heard. He would bring back whatever was special from the places he visited. I remember once he brought a few carrots and a lemon and gave to my Athai (my paternal aunt) and told her, “grate the carrot and cut a green chilly into small bits. Mix them, sprinkle some salt and squeeze the lemon over it. It will taste delicious.” This was one of the dishes served to him at the function that he had last attended. We had not heard of carrots in Puthucode those days. Such was his affection towards his sister and her children.
As usual, I started with the story but wandered into rambling about our Amman. I will continue with more rambling about Amman at a later date perhaps. I am also reminded of this story when someone wants to say, "Chumma irukkayo, swarupathe kattattumo" (Will you shut up or do you want to see my true form?). The full story is posted on Kathai Kathaiyam Karanamam.