Thursday, December 9, 2010

For Tvisha – Age 11, 1977

Dear Tvisha,

1977 was a very uneventful year for me and the family. We were all still recovering from my mother’s passing away in 1976. Thaatha buried himself in his work. Although he used to give us anything we wanted, he wasn’t that communicative as he was dealing with his own grief. For me and Krish it felt like a big vacuum not having our mother around anymore, but in my grandma (cuttle appa’s wife) we found the person who took on the role of our mother in the best possible way she could. I just adored my grandma, a lovely lady with a never ending flow of affection and care for us.

One thing I didn’t mention to you about the previous year was that just before paati passed away, they had found a bride for my father’s younger brother (my uncle) and his wedding date was in early June. And then paati passed away in May. By rituals we used to follow, we usually don’t celebrate anything for one year from when a family member passes away. Which meant that my uncle’s wedding would have to be postponed by a year. But thaatha would have none of that. He, as you know, was a very practical person. He made the decision, against most of our relatives and friends’ opinions, of not changing the wedding date. So my uncle did get married just barely a few weeks after my mother’s passing away. It was a very brave move by thaatha who felt there was no point in delaying something as important as a wedding, preparations for which had taken a lot of effort and time.

My mother was my backbone as regards to my schooling with her tutoring, her constant reminders and expectations to focus on our studies, coming back home in time, etc. Things now took a different turn. As I was searching for answers mentally, I found that I had to take on the major responsibility of managing my studies on my own, given the situation. Thaatha was there to help us in any way needed with our studies, but he too was busy with his work and could not be around all the time to help manage our school work. My performance at school suffered as I started taking things less seriously. I even had a teacher comment about my dropping performance in class which I didn’t like. It got to a point where I didn’t care what my teacher thought. My performance in my eyes wasn’t as bad as my teachers thought.

I was now in Standard VI, which was secondary school in India. So I was one of the bigger boys now :-). I played a lot of games in school during lunch break and before school started – cricket, square ball which similar to dodge ball, hockey, basketball and soccer. I tried my hand at everything. For the first time in my life, I started eating street food outside school each day. Now that is something no one should ever miss. There is something about street food that you can’t match anywhere else.

Oh yes, something else big happened that year. My beloved drink during the short recess, the chilled Coca Cola was gone from India! thanks to the brilliant idea of our then Prime Minister Mr. Morarji Desai and his government who demanded the Coca Cola company to reveal their secret formula so it could be manufactured in India. Yeah right! This was due to some policy that the government had come up with. So Mr. Coke said bye bye India. The next time I got to taste Coke was when I came to the USA to pursue my MBA, after 15 years. I will tell you, it was well worth the wait ;-).

- Appa