Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Joy of Giving - Card 15 - Guardian Angels

When I came across this post from my older blog I thought it is perfect for the Joy of Giving Card 15. Simply because, the feelings have remained unchanged since I first wrote this some time in 2008 (and have only grown) and reproducing this one also helps me bring one of my heart felt posts back from the gallows where it lies defunct in a blog manager I can no longer access.

So this is my Thank You note to Mama, Mami, Vimala didi and Anandhi. You have meant more to me than 'family' as I was growing up and even these words actually fail to express what you meant to me...

The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand;
the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.
 George Eliot (1819 - 1880)

Sometimes a life time can pass by before you have the chance to tell a few special people what they mean to you, how they have influenced you, how they have made you feel…and how very much you miss them.

I don’t want to lose this chance…because I completely agree with Mr Eliot, and want to tell my Angels, I know you.....

I was a difficult child growing up…spoilt thoroughly by my parents who doted on their first born. Apparently, as a two or three year old, I would refuse to sleep at night, and my parents would pop us in the car, take me on a LONG drive, until I would fall asleep…which could be for an hour or more. That’s in 1976, when cars were few and fuel was some paise to a litre.

My birthdays were celebrated in STYLE. My parents would call everyone they know, and the guest list would often run into a hundred plus. The party would be lavish, with catering and the jazz of a wedding celebration. The spectacle continued as my brothers arrived and was brought to an end when we grew up and started demanding our “private” parties with friends.

My wishes were almost always fulfilled unless they were particularly absurd. I made my first trip abroad as a 16 year old, part of a package tour to Singapore for 10 days, ALONE. My dad did not blink an eyelid as I travelled unaccompanied, with 1000 USD CASH in my hands to spend. I had the most rollicking time of my life!

My parents never raised a hand on me… I don’t remember my mother ever shouting at me, even though I bunked classes at Junior College to go for a movie. I was allowed to drive my dad’s car at 18. I would fly to Mumbai (from Cochin) unaccompanied for vacations, as young as 6 years of age.

Guess I should stop it now. But you get the picture anyways, right?

Through all this pampering and lavish upbringing, it was easy to get carried away. I could have turned out like most of my cousins, talking money and status all the time; treating people without money with contempt. I could have made jewellery, clothes etc the pre occupation of my being. I could have decided to marry rich, enjoy the riches, because riches made you who you are…in “that” world.

But I turned out different and I can only attribute that to my Guardian Angels.

They kept me grounded…with their simplicity. I grew to appreciate people for who they are, not what they wear, the car they drive (or don’t drive), or their jewellery. I grew to understand the importance of education. I saw that happiness was not in possessing material goods. It was in being satisfied with what you have. People see me as a down-to-earth person without hang ups. I give the credit to my Guardian Angels for helping me become so.

They inspired me with their intelligence…and their hard work. I was committed to prove I could master Mathematics, my academic Waterloo throughout school, and come out with flying colours at the Class X Board Exams, only because of the guidance and inspiration I received from them.

They flattered me with their praise as I would make knick knacks out of things, or laud my drawing/painting skills in front of their own guests. They celebrated my happiness on winning Elocution at school as much as my parents did (may be even more).

They took me in as part of their family, just as they did my brothers later on. On Navaratri, I would deck up in a ‘pawadai’ (traditional ankle length skirt) and place a string of jasmine in my hair to serve the guests. During Saraswati pooja, I would place my books at the altar in their home. I was part of their wedding celebrations and knew most of their relatives by name.

I would eat at least one meal a day (if possible) at their place and if given the opportunity would have loved to have a sleep over every night. My day would be incomplete without meeting them and pouring out the day’s events to them (preferably over a meal).

I could do all that, because we lived in the same compound, housing three homes and a commercial establishment. As time went on, the Didis got married and moved away. Mama and Mami (Uncle and Aunt respectively, in Tamil) continued to share that home where we would pop in time and again, to grab small chatter, and certainly Mami’s delicious hot ‘kaapi’.

Mama passed away a few years ago, and Mami does not live in that house anymore. For me, a trip to Cochin is incomplete without dropping in to see Mami and grabbing a meal there, followed by kaapi. I miss Mama and can only imagine how he would have pulled my leg or played with my kids. I still remember his full bodied smile as he would mercilessly pull my leg by mispronouncing my (best) friend’s name, knowing how irritated I would get.

I have the sweetest memories of a happy and carefree childhood, brought to life each time I meet the family, as they animatedly discuss my idiosyncrasies as a child. It is like going through LIVE memoirs of my early years…making me thank God for handing me over to this family.

Thank You falls short for what I wish to express. And yet I will say, THANK YOU my Guardian Angels.
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