One Saturday afternoon Chithapavathu chithi, (that’s how we used to call Thatha’s brother’s wife) had come. Thatha was lying on the bare floor in the hall, paati on the other side and chithi sat next to her for a chit chat. Amma and chithi were to go to temple in the evening. The conversation turned to marriages of the present day when Thatha recalled marriages of those days. Thatha suddenly remembered that on Wednesday, it was 60 years since they got married. Amma immediately said, jubilantly ‘that calls for a grand celebration’, ‘Celebrationum vendam, manangatiyum vendam. Kottanukku aara vayasachu (celebration? at our age? No way) ’said paati, Amma said ‘That is why the need for celebration. Not every one will be lucky to see their 60th Wedding Anniversary. We children have to be blessed by both of you’ and immediately started working towards it. She discussed with chithi and me regarding what to do, the kind of food to be made or ordered. Menu was of course the first item to be discussed and decided. She rushed to ‘Ellappan kadai’ (our family clothier’s shop) to buy blouse pieces to be given to the ladies on that day. Paati in her typical way remarked’’ Koothil kundotharan madhri kudhikkiraa, kudu kudunu poi Ravikaye vangindu vanthuta (She is hasty and bought blouse pieces). What if you are not able to celebrate it?’ “I’ll celebrate it” said amma to paati determinedly. (Actually thatha and paati both had stopped celebrating any festival after my father’s demise). They rang up Vijaya mami and Amirtha mami who were not in Chennai and talked to Sampath mama who came in the evening with Choodamani mami, Shyam and Suji. As usual Kalyani Mami and Raghu Mama without demur eagerly participated and put in lot of hard work.

‘Modoor Mama’ (Modoor Chakrapani, our family cook) was requested to prepare Tiffin for about 100 people who were expected on Wednesday evening. Invitees were families of Jayaakka, Pankajam chithi, Lakshmi Chithi, Thatha’s Nephew’s Sripuram Ranganna and all other relatives. I was appreciating at heart and admiring amma’s managerial abilities to organize within 3 days a grand get together so successfully. And that too without taking Kannan Anna’s help initially. Of course this was possible because of cooperation from mamis and mamas as mamis were the ones to be active participants and mamas would always liberally contribute and any function mostly were a joint venture at home. Chithapavathu chithi as usual was amma’s right hand and Kannanna was also consulted. It was then a typical middle class household, all buzz and excitement. Vijaya Mami was all enthusiastic as usual and said ‘avasyam celebrate pannanum’ and booked her tickets to Madras by Bangalore mail and was the first one to arrive early in the morning with Usha. Choodamani mami, Kalyani mami were all enthusiastic and we were all eagerly waiting for the big day. Unfortunately Amirtha Mami, Uri and others could not be present for the joyous occasion.

This wedding day was different from other wedding day functions. Here no one shook hands or wished ‘happy wedding anniversary’. Instead everyone prostrated before the elderly couple and sought their blessings which they whole-heartedly gave. This turned out to be a very auspicious occasion and somehow all the people who were informed made it convenient to attend. There was much love and affection and lot of respect for the elderly couple and everyone thoroughly enjoyed that evening. We had one ‘asthana’ photographer ‘Studio Swagath’ opposite P.S.Highschool who was fixed up by Raghu Mama for that evening. The recorded memories are the evergreen photographs, but my own memories will be with me for ever.

Radha Seshadri




Copyright © 2008 S.Parthasarathy