Blog post by Mahalakshmi Rajagopal
Growing up in a 95% TamBrahm building in Bombay (as it was then called) we had our own agraharam!
From Suprabhatam in the morning to the madi and aacharam throughout the day till the palagaram in the night we did it all.
The best part of growing up here was you were free for all to discipline and be told to sit, eat, play and walk properly. When 2 of us got into a fight our ears inevitably got pulled by the mami on hand. The ladies sat in the garage and talked far into the night during school vacations and we kids played our hearts out.
Enga adutha athilai lived pattu mami and her family. She was an amazing cook but had this habit of always borrowing something or the other. Always started with a cup of sugar, then inevitably came the Moru for orakutharthuku. My mom who was an amazing cook herself was always asked to give a davara of rasam by her for her chellakutty Subramanian.
I still remember this one time when my mum and dad had to go to Chennai because it was their Marman’s poonal. I was being left home alone for the first time in my life and I couldn’t believe my luck. Aduthathu Pattu mami was in charge. From breakfast to packing my lunch box she did it all. She would wake me up and make sure i was fed clothed and sent to school on time.
One afternoon, I remember bringing over a few friends all girls by the way. As soon as she heard the noise, Pattu mami knocked on the door and came into my house and sat down in the chair. She said carry on whatever you are doing but the door remains open. She firmly parked herself in the chair till the last of the friends went home. My annoyance knew no bounds.
Few days after Amma-Appa came back, Dad had a heart attack and we rushed him to the hospital. The entire building was there at the hospital. I was 13 yrs old couldn’t understand how to handle it. I saw Amma’s life crash in front of her. She couldn’t get a grip. Appa the strongest man I knew was fighting for his life. I was sent home in Pattu mami’s care. This lady who was the source of my annoyance for a long time took me right under her wing. “Onum aagada di ketaiya, swami kitta nanna vendiko, Tirupati ki our ruva tuniyalai chutti vechuda. Unga aathu swami ki poi nei villakku yeti vai”. A 13 year old believed that this lady knew what she is saying and did exactly that. Pattu mami then proceeded to make dinner for me and her family and went about making sure I was up and ready and fed and sent to school as usual the next day. She kept the routine going for the ten days that dad remained in the hospital. Making sure the Nei villakku was yetified every evening in our house till dad returned home.
This unassuming annoying Pattu mami became a lady who i grew to love and respect. There are so many such aduthathu mami’s in our lives who form an integral part of our growing up.