You are bursting with a whole lot of news (good and bad) to share, but you miss the one person who was a constant in your life….until she decided to leave this world, Yup, I am talking about my Athai (அத்தை), my only aunt, my dad’s only sister.
Literally translated, அத்தை மடி மெத்தையடி means your aunt’s lap is a pillow and what a pillow it was. Always with a smile, she was the first one who i used to go to when I wanted to talk about something. She was always there to listen, be it happy recounts or whining about something (or someone). Of course she always panicked when i tried telling her about the pain roadside romeos were giving me. And she would promptly suggest that i take the help of my uncle, which had me backtracking so fast 🙂 you could give me a medal.
She was always patient and helped me try out new hair styles(who woulda ever thought there were so many ways to plait one’s hair) and try out new recipe suggestions with me (drumroll please) the famous kombu-curry (கொம்பு கறி) and the adai-vadai. Kombu-curry became my signature comfort-food-type dish that even today Guru, my brother and everyone else in my family agrees that no one prepares it like me. In fact, close family friends say that they think of me when they make it 🙂 Recounting a FB chat with my uncle:
Panchapakesa Venkataramani Sivaswamy today i thought of you… Lakshmi Rajagopalan kyon Panchapakesa Venkataramani Sivaswamy i made கொம்பு கறி. Lakshmi Rajagopalan ah. good to c someone is making my curry Panchapakesa Venkataramani Sivaswamy it came off good..
Even though her name was Meenakshi, everyone called her “Paapa.” But I used to sing “Ennadi Meenakshi” and it irritated her so much but just the fact that I used to sing it like Kamal, pretending to have a mike and all, used to bring a smile to her face that I was promptly forgiven. Her’s was the first saree that I wore, a half-white saree with orange border when I was in grade XII. You should have seen the proud smile on her face, she just couldn’t stop grinning 🙂 I am like her in more ways, that i can count – my mom always said that my cooking is so much like hers, right down to that extra pinch of salt, my gait, my hair texture, my bone structure (weird, i know) and thinking about it now, even some of our health issues 🙂 Of course, there were times when i used to behave like a spoilt child, always burying my nose in my books and completely chilling @ her place. Ram, my brother used to ask me why i am doing this but her response to him was – “if she doesn’t relax here, where else will she?” She was my home away from home, esp. when i was going thro teenage-angst, my safe-place, my confidant and my friend and many more things but most importantly, a lap to lie down and cry on. God, I miss her so much, esp. seeing how she would have enjoyed seeing me @ college, my wedding, with my kids and Guru and my life. She played and is still playing an important role in my life and I am forever grateful to her for that.
Only An Aunt …can give hugs like a mother, can keep secrets like a sister, and share love like a friend.
Mine sure did!
I have always maintained the importance of aunts,” wrote Jane Austen in 1815, in a letter to her niece Caroline.