To my grandpa
March 13 2011
Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round thy table. (Psalm 128:3)
Tough I am not Christian I use to read bible.
God blessed Mr. Muthu Swamy Mudaliar(My grand dad) with 10 children and Sixteen grand children's. My name is Prabhu and I am the 7th Grandson of Mr.Swamy I call him Thatha and he ll call me Raja Prabhu (King Prabhu)
My memories of Thatha dates back to the mid eighties. Thatha and Paatimma (Grandma), stayed in koduvai at that time. My parents and I stayed in Pollachi, then. We used to go to koduvai every summer holidays. I used to have fun at Thatha’s place. All my cousins would come to koduvai and I would have a great time. It was not the age of television and computers. The games we played then are still fresh in my memory.Paper boats, Mud castles,Running around the house,climbing trees bathing in the well at the farm...
I still remember the green color cycle, Thatha used. I used to play with its pedal. It has fallen on my head more than once. As a kid, I used to help Thatha wear his shirt. In the evenings, I used to apply paraffin oil on his feet. Thatha had a big black mole on his spine.I used to get scared of that. Thatha used a specks. I always loved to flick his specks and play with it. It was the symbol of the eighties of a teacher and I became teacher and take class.
We used to have prayer two times in a day at the temple. As we were little kids, we used to wait for the prayer to get over, so that we could go out of the temple and play. Thatha had two basic rules for his grand children. These rules should be followed if we had to go and play. The rules were simple.
1.Memorize sacred chants according to the age (i.e. if my age was 3, I was supposed to memorize three scared chants. 4=4 and 5= 5 sacred chants and so on)
2.Respect the elders and never lie.
Thatha had a strong panel of five members who used to check whether we abided by his rules. The five members were Thatha, Paatimma and their three daughters that included my mom, “Mythily” and her two sisters, “Meenakshi and Geetha”. The latter four were lenient and they would help me if I made any mistake while reciting the memory verses. But one could not escape from Thatha’s glare, when a Ramayana verse is wrongly recited. Though Thatha had a hearing problem, one cannot fool him when it comes to reciting the scripture. The initial days were easy. But as I grew older the quantum of memory verses also increased and I still remember the days when I used to see my cousins with faugh as they played outside while I memorized verses after verses everyday.
Then every day afternoon we were supposed to sleep in the hall. All the grandchildren were obedient and they used to sleep. But being the black sheep among the grandchildren, I used to sneak out through the backdoor into the farm. I had two partner in crime; my cousin, “Akila & Abi”. But we regularly get caught by Thatha and we end up kneeling down every evening.
Friday night family prayer is an event that I would not forget in my life. It lasts for at least one hour. Every member in the family, prays in that family prayer. The prayer chain starts from the grandchildren, battened on by the parents and then concluded by Paatimma and Thatha. By the time the prayer gets over, we “grandchildren” would be snoring.
Thatha and Paatimma used to take Ramayana classes for the slum children and we used to sit along with them and listen to the scripture. Thatha was indeed God’s marionette. He used to get up as early as three in the morning and pray with Paatimma.
Thatha went into God’s hushed seclusion on March 13th, 1987. I remember the long car journey we had. We reached koduvai that night. I saw Thatha for one last time. He was dressed in his white silk shirt and dhoti . We all sat around his body. Finally before the coffin was lowered into the pit, Paatimma led us all and we all said in a chorus, “The lord gave and the lord has taken away; may the name of the lord be praised”.
Twenty four years have gone by. Many a summer has come and gone. I have met my cousins a lot of times in the last twenty four years. But it’s never been the same as it used to be. I miss the memory verse recitals, the chants, the pongal occasions , Friday night prayers, the games I used to play with my cousins. If not for the summers I had in the mid eighties, my faith would not be as solid as it is now. I never paused to think, and debate the alternative possibilities about anything. Such things are not necessary in the black and white world that you thought, existed. It was not necessary to understand the gray, till you start missing it. I still remember Thatha’s grin. He had it even in his last days. I am sure he still has it wherever he is now.
- Prabhu.N @ Pepsi (6th Grandson of Shri. Mr. M. Swamy)
( Taken from the autobiography on my grandpa. All sixteen grandchildren wrote their memories of their grandpa. This is my contribution to the book)
Posted by PRABHU N