My Grandmother……My Annammal Patti

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follow site My Dad, had a name, that my kids thought, was great for anagrams.  Christened Paramanantham Israel Samuel Baboo, he grew up in Senthiambalem, a small village in the Tinnevelly District. On the map, it lies shielded by the village Sawyerpuram and the seaport Tuticorin in Tamilnadu. Sawyerpuram, named after the Missionary, Sawyer, who worked in the area, has a large Christian Community.

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get link My dad’s mother, Annammal, widowed at a very young age, raised my Dad and his only sister, Alice Blossom Arputham, with courage and dignity as a single Mum.  My Dad’s father, my Samuel Thatha, passed away early in the marriage, as a young man. I do not have much information about him, as my Dad was a mere child, when he lost his Dad. My Mum’s parents, my Velliappachan and my Velliammachy, had passed away, before I was born. That left my Annammal Patti, the only grandparent I knew, when I was growing up. One Grandmother, like my Annammal Patti, is enough for a zillion grandchildren. A  power house of love, she gave it all to me, her only grandchild, to cherish, press down and pack away, for this lifetime and the next.

free download dating agency cyrano Mention her name and I see a tall, long-boned, silver haired lady, with a slight stoop, smiling at me with a scantily-toothed smile and pure, undiluted love shining brightly  from her sightless eyes.

see Mention her name and I scamper back to the happiest part of my life, when we used to come from Singapore to visit her in Senthiambalem.  Happy, carefree days, cossetted in her protective arms .

conocer chicos en lima Mention her name and I am caressed by a cascade of warm and tender memories that I have no problem recalling, when all other memories seem to be receding with astonishing speed, as the days zip past.

get link Mention her name and I get a fuzzy , glow inside me.  A warm and happy glow.

While chopping firewood, as a young mother, a splinter flew into her right eye. A horrendous accident, that led to the painful loss of vision, on the right side. Health care in Senthiambalem, was abysmal and over a very short period of time, a florid infection set in to herald Sympathetic Ophthalmitis and blindness in both eyes, leaving my Annammal Patti, a blind, young, single Mum.

A darkened world and two terrified, small children hanging on to each of her helpless hands, did not keep her down, for too long. It only strengthened her faith in Jesus Christ, the Risen Saviour, she believed in, who never left her side.

Jesus Christ was not just a name in her old Tamil Bible, that people took turns to read out to her. Jesus Christ, did not pop up, once in a while, before her. Jesus Christ did not appear, only when called. She did not meet Jesus Christ occasionally , only on Sundays and at prayer meetings.  Jesus Christ was a living presence in her daily life.

Jesus Christ was her daily Companion. Jesus Christ accompanied her, every single waking moment. She trusted Him implicitly. She leaned on Him totally. She spoke to Him. She consulted Him. She complained to Him. She thanked Him and she worshiped Him. She took Him everywhere she went. Her faith in Jesus Christ was Simple, Childlike and Absolute.

Her faith in her God, kept her alive and well, till she crossed 99 years, a year before completing a Century of Blind Trust. I was  in Medical College when she died, taking a part of me with her forever. My dear, sweet Annammal Patti.

After her children left home, my Annammal Patti, lived a fairly independent life, under the watchful eyes of the loving village. The door of her home, The Prayer House, a white building, on the mud road leading to the quaint St. Mark’s Church in Senthiambalem , was always open to the village, to drop in for prayers, be it a prayer for a sick child, a prayer for travel, a blessing or a prayer for anything , any time.

I think she knew more secrets about the village, than anyone else did. They all trusted her and confided in my Annammal Patti. Her blindness gave them some degree of immunity during the confessions, I guess. Over the years she acquired the name “Jebam Panre Patti” , The Grandmother Who Prays , a name she is remembered by, in the Village, even till this day.

She never saw my Dad or his sister as adults. She had no idea, what her daughter-in-law or her grandchild looked like. As a child on our annual holidays, I remember sitting on her lap and fidgeting restlessly, while she traced every contour of my face. Sighted and impatient, I could not figure out why she needed to etch my face in her mind’s eye.  She would want to know every detail.

“What is the colour of your dress? “She would ask.
“What is the colour of the flowers in your hair? “
“What’s the colour of your ribbons?”

Every evening, she would thread jasmine flowers, gathered from the garden, on a string for me to wear in my hair. She would put me on her lap, with my back to her, comb out my hair and braid it intertwined with the jasmine string. She loved my hair. It was a ritual with her. It used to annoy me intensely, especially when I was waiting impatiently, to run out and play with the other kids outside .

She never ever called me by name. She was always called me by various terms of endearment. Something, she used often was “Yennai Petra Thaiye” which when translated means “Oh Mother, who gave birth to me“. When I asked her what it meant , she told me that it stood for ” Oh You, who gives me Life” in Tamizh. I rather liked that . Every time she said that, I grew a few inches in height.

Seven decades later, I am still decoding this term of endearment. Quite honestly, I am not really sure, what it means. Nor do I care. I just know, that no one has ever addressed me in such caressing tones. I do not think that anyone has loved me as much as my grandmother , my Annammal Patti did.

 I could do no wrong in her eyes. No one, including my mother, who never really seemed to be subject to anyone’s authority, could utter a single cross word to me, in her presence. Discipline, during the Indian holiday, happened only when and if my grandmother was out of earshot. My Mum, who could not utter the verbal threat with my Annammal Patti in the room, would mouth it silently and gesture ominously,  that she would deal with me later. I would just toss my head, defiantly, and cuddle closer to my Annammal Patti. Attu Kari Uppukandam  an act of love
When we went on holidays, my grandmother would cure goat meat for us to take back to Singapore. A young goat would be led into the backyard by the local butcher. Fat free pieces of meat would be cubed and cleaned with amazing precision and marinated in turmeric and rock sea salt.  The meat cubes would be strung on twine and dried in clothes line fashion ,outside in the daytime and inside during the night.  Someone, with a fan in hand, would be posted close by, it to shoo the pesky crows away.

Eventually, after a reasonable time in the blazing sun, the strands sporting the dried cubes of meat, would be tied across the store-room, behind the kitchen and left to dry out completely. Later, the dried meat, the famous Attu kari Uppukandam, would be slipped off the string and packed into airtight biscuit tins, for us to take home to Singapore.

This happened every visit . She never paid attention, when my Dad protested.

“Amma, we have the best lamb in Singapore. “
“Australian lamb, Amma”
“Is that right?” she would reply, not looking up from what she was doing.
“Is that so?”
“Uh Huh” she would say, humouring my dad and continue to do whatever she  was doing .
The best of Australian lamb, did not impress my Annamal Patti . I doubt if she even knew where Australia was on the map.

We always took it back with us, respecting the love that went into the whole Act. Her need to give it to us, was far more than our need to accept it.

In all fairness, I have never tasted anything as divine as dried goat meat grilled on an open charcoal fire, under a starry Singapore sky. When I was expecting my kids and had bouts of pica, I used to fantasize about this.

Sam, who had never heard of Attu Kari Uppukandam in all his life in Hyderabad, was at a completely loss. He used to look at me with a strange look ,convinced, that I was losing it.

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