Although inevitable, the passing away of a human being especially when it happens without warning is something that a kid or even an adult can never be prepared for.
My mother (your paati) passed away on May 17, 1976 at the very young age of 42, when we all least expected it.
Leelavati Sivaramakrishnan (1934 – 1976)
I had mentioned to you in one of my previous posts that your paati suffered from diabetes. She was diagnosed as suffering from diabetes at the age of 35. In order to control the high sugar levels, initially she took oral tablets, and then daily insulin shots. I remember going with her often to the doctor to test her urine for the presence of sugar.
To try and combat this she tried some ill advised methods such as skipping dinner daily. Although she avoided sugar in her coffee, her biggest weakness was her fondness of all kinds of sweet desserts. She used to make a lot of sweets as well, and couldn’t keep good control over her cravings.
Her diabetes got worse with time, and she was also admitted to the hospital when she cut her finger while playing the veena and the cut wouldn’t heal.
I had my summer holidays after the final exams. On May 16, paati wasn’t feeling good at all. It got pretty bad to a point where she was just lying on the bed, sleeping most of the time, not even having enough energy to get up or talk.
Thaatha called the doctor a few times to ask him to come see paati. The doctor underestimated the seriousness of the situation, and at first wouldn’t come immediately since it was a Sunday, his day off. Finally said he would come see her in the evening as he had to go some place.
As the situation got worse, thaatha got hold of another doctor who came home to see paati. He immediately asked thaatha to admit her to the hospital. Paati was admitted to the hospital around 5 pm. She was conscious at that point. They administered insulin but even that wasn’t improving her hyperglycemic status. Krish and I came back home very worried, and me not really understanding what was going on.
According to thaatha, after a couple of hours, my mother regained consciousness for a few minutes, inquired about us, and actually said to him, “take good care of the children in case anything happens to me”. It was as if she knew what was happening to her.
She went into a diabetic coma and passed away just after midnight. My uncles came to the hospital to relieve thaatha so he could come and deliver the news. It was not a pretty sight at home as the news spread late that night and into the early morning. There were a lot of people from the building who came to our apartment (the building was a very close knit building), with everyone crying.
I was scared, and buried my head into my grandma’s lap, and just heard what was going on, not having a clue of how to deal with what had happened, and what it meant.
I think the three of us, thaatha, Krish and I dealt with this devastating loss in our own ways. Thaatha, in his own words, was benumbed and wasn’t too communicative with people around and was involved in his own grief. It was good for all of us that my grandma moved back to live with us, as she was the common thread that held us all together to some kind of normalcy. I was in denial for a while and I could say the same for Krish. But eventually we all had to accept the fact and face it.
My mother’s passions & interests
Paati was a Math graduate and was passionate about Math and about education. She had specific goals for us – study and perform at the top and become a doctor or an engineer, two careers most parents wanted their kids to be in at that time :-).
She used to tutor both Krish and I, and used to get very upset and angry if we didn’t perform to the levels set by her. I have gotten a lot of scolding from her.
She was musically very inclined and talented. She learnt music from cuttle appa, and after his passing away, in later years she engaged a teacher to come home and teach her vocals along with her friends. She used to be very good playing the veena and performed at building functions during the Ganesh festivals.
Cooking was something she was very fond of, and was great at it. She would come up with her own recipes, and also modify recipes from magazines to suit our palette and her cooked food was just fantastic. She used to maintain all her recipes in a diary which I am still trying to locate. We just don’t know where it went. Thank God for Blogger today, or I would have lost all my recipes! :-)
Paati loved to visit new places and hence we would try and go to a new place every year. She was also great at keeping in touch with all her sisters and all her social contacts, and was very popular in our apartment building and the neighboring ones.
My mother’s father was a very prominent and well known citizen of Trichur, a small town in Kerala. My mother had 10 other siblings. Through the common astrologer, cuttle appa got an inquiry about marrying thaatha with paati.
So thaatha’s mother and sister went to Trichur to see your paati. They wrote back from there saying that paati was very pretty and nice, but also was a little plump. Was thaatha ok with that? Thaatha had a nice reply to this – “How does that matter? She can get plump even after marriage!” :-).
Thaatha took 3 weeks off and headed to Trichur to see paati. He saw her, liked her and said yes to marrying her. They both hadn’t even talked to each other but were absolutely fine with what they had seen, and had figured each other out I suppose :-). Since thaatha had only 3 weeks time off, they settled on a date within the next 10 days and they were married off! :-) Cool, isn’t it?
They went to Vaikkom, a neighboring town, for their honeymoon and then came to Bombay to begin their new life together. Krish was born in 1961, followed by yours truly in 1966.
I have tried my best to recollect and write what I could about my mother. I had to take help from thaatha of course. And yes I will be writing more about her in subsequent posts, and as I remember events or situations.