Mornings and Nights in Sembakkam by Vasudha

Blog post by Vasudha Rajkumar

Mornings are the same, everyday. The Vishnu Sahasranamam plays on the rickety old casette tape in Raji Pati’s living room in Sembakkam, at 5:00 sharp as her voice chanting the mantra in sync with MS Subbalakshmi is drowned by the sound of the water splashing. The combined sounds wake me up, and I groggily turn in my bed and cover my ears.

It is a summer afternoon in Raji Pati’s garden , surrounded by tall coconut palms with giant yellowing leaves. The sweet smell of jasmine in the air intermingles with the smell of frying mustard seeds wafting from the kitchen window.

The sun’s rays fall everywhere except for a dark patch under a large tree, and I sit there reading books- near the well. The sounds of the thud and the splash of the metal pot in the well, as Raji Pati clumsily lowers it to draw water-are very distracting. After a while, she gets exhausted, and asks me to help her. Jumping at any opportunity to use the rope and pull the pot out from the well, I happily comply, and she smiles, and says in Tamil,

‘What would I do without you, kanna.’

That very evening, Thatha nearly tears his sparse hairs out with exasperation as he tries to teach me the Hayagrivar stotram, and I keep mispronouncing important syllables.
Pati tries to pacify him with freshly brewed filtercoffee (‘Coffee kudichu pesungo neenge!’) and glares at me as I giggle to myself, as any eight-year-old pranking her Thatha while learning the Hayagrivar stotram would.

The nights end with Amma lying next to me, and saying
‘Uttarano dushkrutiha punyo duswapna naasana,’ before falling asleep.


6 thoughts on “Mornings and Nights in Sembakkam by Vasudha

  1. Vasu, u brought perima(ur Raji pati) in front of my eyes with that dialogue of hers…. “What would I do without you, kanna “


  2. Loved reading every bit of this. In fact could clearly visualize every thing depicted in this account. The all too familiar sights,smells and sounds made me nostalgic



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