Wednesday, March 23, 2016

December will never be the same again ...

The month of December was very special to Kannan. Not just because it was the month of Christmas and holidays. Somehow many incidents were destined to happen in that month. It being the holy month of Christmas where he would be more a Santa Claus to many with gifts and help from his side, as much as he could. It was on the 8th of the month, when he got married against the wish of Appa and Amma. It was the month which gave him shivers when he heard the train in which Amma was coming from Palakkad had a bomb blast. Though Amma survived the accident, the date December 6th was not so happy for Kannan, so was it for many Indians for obvious reasons. There were many happy memories associated with that month too, but the one sad day, which was written with an  indelible ink in his book of life was the day December 17th. 

He had just turned 16 that October. The morning of 17th Appa and Amma were hurrying and looked very sad and shocked. Amma was in tears, she had come home from the hospital very late the previous night. Amma was in tears and her eyes were red. Appa was gravely silent. Kannan woke up to this and saw Akka also crying. The facts of life were not still engraved in the soft stone tablet, the young mind of Kannan. 

Amma walked into Kannan's room and she was incessantly crying. Kannan could not bear the sight as he never wanted to see her cry. He had seen her cry when his Thatha, her father passed away and by the time they reached from Bombay, he had already been cremated. The thought choked Kannan. Its Ammamma ... his mentor, friend, philosopher, singer, his grandmother.... Will he not see her again ...

"Kanna ...Ammamma ..." she said and broke into more tears.

Kannan was shocked and could not fathom the pain he felt in his heart. His thoughts drifted back in time ...

The old kitchen where Ammamma was making something special for them, as they reached the previous evening for the annual vacations.

"Nataraja.... grind it more fine" Ammamma said in a loud voice standing near the firewood stove with the huge black cauldron of oil. 

Kannan was standing and watching in awe, straight from the bed, awakened by the smell of frying and the sweet smell of sugar being made to a syrup. the way she poured the finely ground paste in a cloth piece and deftly fried jilebies on the hot oil. 

"Kanna ..." she fondly called and handed him a hot jilebi just lifted from the sugar syrup in the tray nearby by on the table with a blue self patterned rexine sheet snugly nailed. 

Kannan gobbled up the jilebi in no time and that was his first lesson in cooking. She had taught Akka and Kannan crochet, knitting, embroidery and all that she knew. Her swift hands made it look so easy then. Kannan came back to the present and saw Appa getting things packed. His mind drifted again

"Paahimaam sree rajarajeswari ..." the song lingered in his mind. 

Ammamma used to sing so many songs for Akka and him. The songs and the sweetness of the burfies, the jilebies, the sambar and idlies she made, the taste of the coffee, the curries all came to his mind again. The movies she used to love and the love she had in her eyes ... all were images flashing in Kannan's mind. The way she used to fondly fight with Thatha, the six foot fair handsome even at 60, who smelled of bhasmam (holy ash with the smell of roses) and sandal all the time. His snuff colored shirt and the Red silk saree, The diamond studded peacock nose pin, the white swan necklace, the jasmine flowers on her braided and put up hair and the gold bangles ammamma used to wear. Images were flashing as if someone had played video in rewind mode.

It was a cool December morning and Kannan was playing in front of the house when he saw Damodaran's cycle rickshaw. He saw from a distance Damodaran smoke the beedi in his usual style and kicked the pedals of the green flapped rickshaw was the one which used to take Kannan to his drawing classes. He saw Ammamma in it and was so delighted. He never understood why at that age as to why she had to be walked into the house with help. Her bag and a huge drum of burfee as usual were there. Kannan grabbed the burfee tin and walked along with Damodaran who helped her get down and walk with great difficulty. He saw Ammamma's hand bent and not moving. 

" 250 ... High Sugar" Kannan heard Amma tell Appa sadly. 

He felt he was in some spelling bee competition where he wished to ask for the meaning. He understood she won’t be able to make yummy jilebi's like before. Her eye sight was failing due to the condition and that she was under treatment. 

Then for many years he had seen the vibrant grandmother who used to deck up even for a movie she used to go turn to someone who could not see or move without help. She would talk to them about songs, cooking, art, craft, temples and even when in bed, she used to instruct the cooks in such a way that the dishes had the same taste as she used to make or at least near it. She could no longer enjoy the sweets, nor enjoy the coffee with sugar. Kannan and Akka used to watch her drink the bitter gourd juice which was supposed to be having medicinal values and the bitterness used to give her loose stomach convulsions. They used to keep watching the stomach move and laugh. Those laughs made her forget the bitterness and vacations were days when they enjoyed these sights and Thatha's stories. 

Thatha had gone and now Ammamma. Kannan cried but was numb. Life ends for everyone. The lesson was being engraved in the mind by God himself. Losses ... may be time will lessen the pain, but the mind will never erase those memories.

"Kanna ..." Kannan heard the musical voice call him, but in his mind. A mother of five, who lived her life in style enjoying till the moment the "sugar" took the sweetness away from her life and then lived with the memories of those days, all which will now remain memories. Those were the thoughts when Kannan reached the hospital where everyone was silent or crying. A few were talking about the last moments of her life and Ammamma's body lay still in bed. 

Decembers for Kannan will never be the same again. Years later, whenever Kannan sang, or made sweets or watched movies, or even smiled he could hear Ammamma's voice call him again and again 

"Kanna ...."

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