Amma first became Paati (grandmother) at 43 years of age. Maithili’s daughter Rajashree was born when we were living in Surla in Goa. A few years later, Maithili’s son Shreeharsha was born, also in Goa, when we were living in Tisca.
Bhargavi’s son Kaushik was born in Bangalore, and Amma went there for the delivery. After a month or two, she brought both baby and mother to Tisca and cared for them.
As these grandkids grew older, they would come for vacations to our house in Goa and later, in Mysore and of course, in Bangalore. We all have had some really good times together.
|Celebrating Kaushik's birthday in Mysore|
|With Harsha and Kaushik in Bangalore|
|With Maithili and her family|
It was after quite a few years that my son Sanath was born, and at this time, Amma didn’t have all that backbreaking responsibility as in Goa. Also, because my in-laws were engaged in caring for their parent and sister who was critically ill, I would leave Sanath with Amma when I got back to work post-delivery. So he turned out to be extra-lucky and got Amma’s undivided attention. She even played cricket with him, sitting with the bat, and swatting the ball he wobbled at her. Right up to the very end, Sanath never ever left Mani Paati’s house without planting a soft kiss on her cheeks.
|Taking care of Sanath|
|Letting Sanath be naughty|
|Yes, a little spill, but so what, said Amma|
Komala’s daughter Sriprada was also born in Bangalore, and Amma took care of her too for the first few months.
|Youngest grandchild Sriprada|
|Doing "Aaney borey..." with Sriprada|
The first 3 kids all called Amma as “Goa Paati” to distinguish between her and their other Paati who lived with them in Bangalore. Sanath and Sriprada had no “Goa” connect, so for them, she is just “Mani Paati.”
|On a trip to Nandi Hills (Harsha, Sanath, Amma and Rajashree)|
As I’ve mentioned in one of the earlier blogs, Amma welcomed all these grandchildren with her hand-made godadis and langotis. She would give them (and their mothers) the customary oil bath herself. She would sing songs and lullabies to them; she would rock and coo to them.
As they grew older, she would play with them – I think she taught them all (except Sriprada) the native board game called “Chauka Baara” in Kannada which is played by drawing squares on the floor or on a carboard, and small shells/cowries are used as the dice.
She would stand up for the grandkids when she thought their mothers were being unreasonable. At the same time, she didn’t hesitate to side with the mothers when she thought the kids had erred and needed to learn what was right and wrong.
By God’s grace, Amma had the good fortune to be not just Paati, but also “Kollu Paati” or great-grandmother to Rajashree’s son, Ojas.
|Amma with Rajashree and Ojas|
Amma was a frail woman and yet, by sheer force of her character, how many lives she touched and molded!
There are readers who have been writing in, saying how inspired they are by Amma's example and how thankful they are for my writing this blog.
If Amma had been around and I had told her I’m writing about her, she would have said, “What? You have no better work or what?” with a typical bemused look. Then, if I had told her that see the impact it is having on people reading your story, I sure she would have said, “Good if it is helping them. It’s God’s grace. Let God bless them.”