I lost mammai (my grandma) to cancer in November 1980. I knew she was very serious when they had asked thaatha to come to Madras and be with her during her last few days. When I received the eventual call from there about her demise, I reacted with no emotion. Krish and I had learnt to set aside all our emotions in some deep corner of our minds. It was as if we had decided that we wouldn’t cry over losing her.
Although she hadn’t been living with us for almost the last two years, it was a big loss for me, having lost someone who had played the role of my mother, after my mother’s demise at a very young age. I still have fond memories of both of them to this day. I only wish that I could have spent a much longer time with them than I had done.
I did get the chance to visit mammai that year when I had gone to Madras with thaatha. I still couldn’t comprehend the seriousness of the illness and the obvious result that it would have. Or, she didn’t show her suffering through it, since she was such a strong lady mentally and always had a smile for me.
My uncle stayed half a mile away from his sister (my aunt) in Madras. I always used to love going to Madras. There was a general store right around the corner, in between my uncle’s apartment and my aunt’s house. Since I had found a substitute to my favorite drink, Coke, in something called Thums Up!, I used to drink quite a few daily and usually asked the store keeper to add the cost of the drinks to my aunt’s monthly account with him. I got nicknamed Thums Up Aiiyaa (Mr. Thums Up!) by the people who worked at the store, due to the sheer number of Thums Up I used to drink on a daily basis.
It got to a point where the bill went way too high. So I came up with this idea of splitting the daily cost of the colas evenly between my uncle and his sister so that neither of them would feel the pinch. Clever, huh? :-)
For my birthday that year, I was gifted and introduced to my very first Beatles album by Krish. It was the best gift I could receive. That’s how I came to know and love The Beatles, my favorite music group. The album Krish got me was ‘Revolver’. The Beatles were arguably the most popular music group during the 60’s till the disbanded in 1970.
On Dec 8, 1980, John Lennon, one of the leaders of the group, died at the age of 40 after being shot by a person outside his apartment building. It was one of the biggest shocks in the music world. Krish was very upset about this.
This was also my final year of school, and the pressure was immense on everyone since we would be moving on to college and we had perform well in order to get into the college of our choice. For the first time, I took tuitions in Math and Science from my class teacher, Mr. Pandey, to help me do well in the final exams, held by the state. School that year wasn’t that much fun because of all this pressure.
Monday, January 3, 2011