Saturday, 14 November 2015

அற்றைத் திங்கள் அவ்வெண்ணிலவில்

It was on this day 41 years ago that our beloved athimber came into our life. Yes, 'our' life. Usually when a man marries a woman we say he entered her life or she his. But in this case he entered not only in her life but walked into the entire family. Our beloved Gomathi got married to athimber on 15-11-1974. From then on he was not only our beloved athimber, but was more than a beloved brother. He became my elder brother, the privilege I did not possess until then but longed for. He became the eldest son to our parents and elder brother to my younger siblings. We have heard stories of eldest daughter-in-law donning the role of the mother of the family, but sons-in-law at least in those days kept their distance. That was not the case with him.

He was affectionate, kind and considerate not only to the immediate family members. He was in fact all these qualities personified. All the children, be they from family, relatives, neighbours or friends families who have ever come across him fell for him like gopikas were said to have been attracted to Lord Krishna. He would play with them, feed them laugh with them make them happy as if they were his own children.

Cricket was his passion. He used to play cricket with love and did his best to make his sons play the game. And finally he did everything in his power to make his grandson excel in the game. Even when he was not well enough he would muster strength to play with him or take him to coaching ground to encourage him. May God bless the child to become a great player as his grandfather wished him to be.

With elders he gave them respect, affection and above all gave them their space. He had his own strict values which he followed religiously. But he never imposed them on others or judged them based on their faith or lack of it. If only we could emulate at least some of these qualities we can become better persons.

He and my sister would compete with each other in the art of giving. All their relatives, friends, neighbours and domestic helps would willingly vouch for this. It is a privilege that I was a part of his extended family and had a ring side view of all of his kind acts. Those who have not met him may find it difficult to believe that such persons do occupy this planet.

Unfortunately rheumatoid arthritis struck my sister and made her life miserable. He looked after her as one would take care of a kid. And keep her bed and surroundings and the entire house neat and tidy. Domestic helps would be thankful for his thoughtfulness. Gomathi more than repaid his kindness by managing the entire household even when she was completely laid up in bed. She managed the cook, kitchen and the entire house from her bed. She would never forget to wish us on our wedding anniversaries and occasions like Deepavali, Pongal and New Year. When the phone rings for the first time in the morning on these days you can be sure that the call was from her. Whenever anyone invited them for any function, be it wedding or engagement or children's birthday, she would be the first one to call up the concerned person soon after the designated time to enquire if the function went off well. All from her sick bed.

Gomathi would say athimber was taking care of her as a kid and he would say she was leading him like a mother would hold her kid's hands. Both were true. Both were truly made for each other. He took care of her till her end and after she passed away in March 2014, he waited for one year so that year long rituals were conducted as required without any hindrance. May be he thought his life's mission was complete. Then he got ill, was hospitalised and passed away within a couple of months in June 2015. All this was so sudden that their children who looked after them with deserving affection and care and we in the extended family are yet to recover from the shock.

Today is their 41st wedding anniversary. I am reminded of one Purananuru song in ancient Tamil literature in which daughters lament their father's demise as follows.
Attrai Thingal Avvennilavil
Enthaium KondOm, Nam kundrum pirar koLaar
Ittrai thingal Ivvenilavil
Vendru eri murasin Venthar em
Kundrum Kondaar; yaam enthayum ilame

Last Full Moon
We had our father, we had our hill
This Full Moon
Kings play the drums of victory
They have our hill, We have lost our father.

I only pray to the almighty that their soul rest in peace and that their unfulfilled wishes be fulfilled. May God bless their offspring.