Saraswathy Paati and her beloved grandson Duraju
Saraswathy Paati is my grandmother, Pattu Paati’s mother. As Pattu was the eldest child of Saraswathy Paati, she got married at an early age to my grandfather, Raja Thatha and my father Durairajan was born to them on September 28, 1933. Though Appa was born in Madras (In my family only Appa and I were born in dear Madras, all my sisters and my mother were born in our hometown Kumbakonam), he spent his early years in Kumbakonam with his dear Paati Saraswathy.
I do not remember this Paati alive as I was just about three years when she passed away (1900-1972) . I can only recall seeing her body in their house in Mint Street, Madras.
Paati was an embodiment of love and affection, she showered so much of love on her eldest grandson (my father) when he grew up there. He was given preferential treatment over her own sons, a couple of them being the same age group as my father.
To this day my father talks about his Paati’s cooking and the variety of food she used to feed him. When any dish made by any of us comes out very tasty, he says “Saraswathy Paati, Saraswathy Paati” meaning, it is as good as what Paati used to make! That is a great compliment in our household because even my Raja Thatha who is a connoisseur of food admits that his mother-in-law was one of the best cooks!
One interesting story my father tells us often is that when he was a kid, Paati gave him a few annas and a vessel (சொம்பு) and asked him to buy oil from a shop two streets away. Appa being a kid spread his hands and ran like an aero plane, bought the oil, ran back home in a flying posture, spilling all the oil. Paati, with all her love for her grandson, did not scold him. Today, I am able to understand the difficulty she would have faced with that loss of money and oil as those were very tough days
When she became old, she used to come and stay in our house for short periods. Our household followed the rule of women eating only after the men and my Thatha used to have his bath, pooja and lunch quite late. Saraswathy Paati used to get hungry by then but had always been too scared that son in law will be angry if she eats before him. My mother used to force her to eat when she was hungry and not wait for my Thatha to have his lunch. Of course, this was followed in our house as a general practice and not because the men will get angry. My Thatha never checked who ate before or after him, he used to go about his activities busily.
Recently a few details my Rajamani Chittappa gave me about the tough time Saraswathy Paati had with her husband (TPK Thatha) made me appreciate her value even more. Hats off to her tolerance!
I wish she had lived for some more years, so that I would have had the chance to meet this great person!