I went to K-63 today. Today for the very first time i didnt bound up the stairs with a song on my lips the way i have been doing almost every sunday for the past 3 years, the way i did last sunday. Today for the first time i didnt burst into your house shouting "Perima, Peripa". Today for the very first time i didnt feel like coming to K-63 because today for the FIRST time in the past 23 years of my visiting K-63, I didnt see you or talk to you.
Everything in that house reminds you of me. i didnt go beyond the hall today. I think about the rest of the house and fresh tears appear in my eyes. I think about the dining room in K-63 and i think of the umpteen number of delicacies that have been dished out of those loving hands, your famous adai, the hot bajjis which you would invariably make every time it rained and give preethi or me a call and ask us to collect it. I think of the bedroom and it reminds me of your chair in front of the bed, your hearing aid in a small box, a chain of prayer beads next to them, a kumudam with pictures of scantily clas women on it which you would disdainfully turn up your nose at and comment about everything right from Sneha's sense of dressing to Peripa's hairstyle.
I think about the balcony and it reminds me of your saree drying there, with the faint smell of mysore sandal soap and some powder - cuticura i think, on it.
In more than one way K-63 has been more than a home for me. All those summer holidays spent lazily ambling in and around K-63, playing house house with Ramya and Vidya when you would loan us your saree and help us tie it from the dining table to the fridge and make a mock house and solemnly drink from the empty toy cups which we swore had coffee in it. How can i forget all those nights you would make us sit in a row, give us thayir sadam with a little bit of mavadu thanni on it and then patiently put mardaani on all our hands. I dont think you ever complained about the bathroom or the wash basin being dirty when the next morning in our excitement to see the color of our mardaani we would scrape it off all over the house.
I remember you wore the saree which i got you from my first salary immediately the week after i bought it for you. I didnt recognize it but as soon as i came home the next week, though you werent able to speak you gestured at the saree telling me that it was the one which i had bought.
I have seen you go from being the bold commanding decision making perima to the weak, frail, helpless perima restricted to a chair. The transition was not easy. neither for you nor for us who were so used to seeing you in command either busily entertaining the plethora of guests which K-63 always had at any given point of time during the day, cooking for them, asking about their families, managing to sneak in a game of cards, go shopping and do so many other things. You were super woman perima. You never forgot a single person, single child, a single meal and always had something to say to everyone.
It was extremely difficult for us to see you sit at one place, eat boiled vegetables - oh how how much u hated those!!, drink hot water, unable to hear, unable to talk on the phone and unable to do anything which you loved doing. I am sure it killed you to be bedridden and ask for help but never once did we hear you complain. what were you made of? Diamond is my guess.
Today for the first time i saw peripa cry. He misses you terribly Perima. 55 years of togetherness is not a joke and for a man who has been hopelessly dependent on you for the smallest of his needs your absence is devastating. He is broken to say the least. you have spoilt him silly.
I am sorry i couldnt be there when they took you away. I am sorry I was in a place which was completely unreachable when people called me to inform me of your demise. I never believd in fate. i think i do now. You know i never switch my phone off, always attend calls and always keep u guys informed about where i am. That ill fated day the thought of calling home never crossed my mind and while everyone was frantically trying to reach me i was up in some mountains which had no signal, blissfully unaware of what was happening in Chennai. I am sorry Perima and i hope you will forgive me.
I think i am one of the blessed souls who saw you four days before you left us. Perima i told you i wouldnt be able to come this weekend and that i would come and see you during Pongal. Not even for a moment did i think that would be last time i would see you.
I just sit silently not allowing any thoughts to creep in and try to concentrate on mundane and routine things but after some time the tears are flowing freely down my cheek in ur memory. I cant imagine going to K-63 without you, I cant imagine a sunday without visiting you, i cant imagine peripa without you. You are one person who i loved and admired the most perima and i think this sentiment is very widely found among many members of the Nataraja iyer family.
You will be missed sorely and mourned deeply perima.
May your soul rest in peace.