Daddy’s Daddy named Sriram and Mommy’s Mommy named Babayi were siblings. So, Daddy and Mommy are first cousins.
Amongst many things, Kumar attributes my craziness to that fact too.
Amongst many things, I attribute the richness of my childhood experiences to that fact.
For every family story that I was told, there were atleast two versions of it. Mommy’s version and Daddy’s version.
The saga of the Mahabharata fades in comparison to the family stories I was told and I could re-tell.
The history. The challenges. The relationships. The drama. The wars. The struggles. The learnings. The wins. The losses. And above all, the togetherness.
Daddy’s Mommy Selvanayaki had a sibling. His name was Dr. Jeyavelu. Both Selvanayaki Patti and Jeyavelu Thatha (Grandpa) were both orphaned at a young age and were both self made people.
My story today is about Jeyavelu Thatha’s spouse – Chandra Patti (Grandma).
Mommy lost her mom when she was a toddler. TVS Thatha (maternal side grandpa) never remarried and devoted his entire life to Mommy.
10 years after they were married, Daddy and Mommy still didn’t have a child.
When my mom finally got pregnant, TVS Thatha decided to leave her in the safe hands of 2 people he trusted the most – Jeyavelu Thatha and Chandra Patti. Given Mommy’s complicated pregnancy, Thatha was afraid that Mommy might lose the child (me) if she wasn’t given proper care. Jeyavelu Thatha was a doctor. So, TVS Thatha felt Jeyavelu Thatha’s household was where I should spent the last few months of my time in Mommy’s womb.
Daddy had many stories to tell me of Jeyavelu Thatha. Jeyavelu Thatha had served the country in the army and was a retired doctor. At one point of time, he had taken a bullet hit to one of his legs in the battlefield.
After Daddy graduated high school, Jeyavelu Thatha had advised him to get a technical degree and join a car company. Daddy told me that his job and living was because of Jeyavelu Thatha’s great and timely advice.
During my childhood days, Daddy took me to see Jeyavelu Thatha. Jeyavelu Thatha showed me his badge of honor – the bullet wound. Jeyavelu Thatha told me the story with lots of color. But, unfortunately, I don’t remember all the details.
I was very impressed with Jeyavelu Thatha’s presence, high energy, sharp wit and his bullet wound. On the bus ride home, I told Daddy that I was going to join the army like Jeyavelu Thatha. I think Daddy was very shocked.
TVS Thatha left Mommy in Jeyavelu Thatha’s and Chandra Patti’s safe haven. Mommy told me that she received great love and care there from Chandra Patti.
I was born in Chengelpet Hospital (it is a town near Chennai in South India) under Jeyavelu Thatha’s care. Mommy told me that she was treated like royalty because Jeyavelu Thatha’s high position in the hospital. Mommy always told me to be thankful to Jeyavelu Thatha and Chandra Patti because both of them were the reason that both Mommy and I are alive…despite her complicated pregnancy.
I didn’t see much of Jeyavelu Thatha and Chandra Patti during my childhood. On the few occasions,that I visited Chandra Patti always treated me kindly. She would give me something to drink and eat, sit me down and say “Sangi (My middle name is Sankari. So, my family calls me Sangi.), your Daddy works very hard to give you a better life than he did. He has struggled a lot in life. He has taken great care of his family. You have to study hard and make a good life for yourself. That is the only way you can truly repay your Daddy.” When I was getting ready to leave, she would pull me aside, and give me allowance money.
I knew by then that Daddy was adored by his family and friends. I added Chandra Patti to the list of people that liked Daddy and wished him nothing but the very best.
I don’t remember when I saw Chandra Patti last. Perhaps, it was at my wedding reception.I realize that I am growing up too fast. It saddens me to note that people are leaving me – people that are a part of my family history and a big part of the reason that I am alive.Chandra Patti passed away yesterday. She was 80. She leaves behind a family that adores her – 4 wonderful children (Vasan Aunty, Revi Aunty, Mali Aunty and Chander Uncle), their respective spouses, nephew Balakrishnan (Daddy), niece Devaki (Mommy) and many grandkids including Sangi.
May God bless Thathamanji Jayachander Uncle and his family for taking care of Chandra Patti for all these years.