Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My Neighbor Patti

I hated my neighbor patti, Mythili patti.(Patti means grandmother).
I was born in the same house I lived today in East Mada street. My father had died within one year of my birth. My mother Kamakshi managed to survive just for my sake. She worked in houses as a cook and assisting other ladies in cooking and household chores to make ends meet. We both had the support of both sets of grandparents till they all passed away. Then it was just my mother and I. And ofcourse Mythili patti. 
Mythili patti had no one. She adopted my family as her own ever since my father passed away. She was a constant source of support and comfort to my mother and kept me company when my mother worked long hours.
She only started to annoy me when I started to grow up. She then controlled what I could wear, and how long I should perform puja’s. She controlled the time I should wake up , how I should get ready for school. She controlled what I ate and when I played and how much of t.v. I could watch.

She used to sit in her thinnai (balcony) and watch me come and go.
In fact, to sum it up, she controlled me totally. My mother was very lenient towards patti as she felt patti was getting old and had no one but us. Also mother was always busy running around so it was difficult for her to monitor me and so she was grateful that I had someone to look out for me.
My annoyance with my patti only grew day by day and did not decrease at all. By this point I had finished my education and was seriously looking out for a good job. Even here Patti’s interference did not stop. She kept prodding me to study further and said I should not have stopped with my B.Com degree but should have tried to finish my Chartered Accountant exam too.
I was fed up to the point that I thought I should somehow do away with my patti. I first prayed to God to kill patti and take her away to her other life. Well God turned deaf ears to my prayers. So much so that I wanted to chortle patti with my own hands. And towards that end I started to look out for how this could be done.
All of a sudden one evening someone came to summon me, telling me that my mother had got caught in a fire in a kitchen and had been admitted in the nearby hospital.
By the time Patti and I reached the hospital, they could only give us the remains of my charred mother, whose face even I could not see clearly for the last time.
As I got the remains of the body shrouded in white for its last journey, I bent over and started crying. My body was rocked by my huge sobs. I cried uncontrollably and rolling on the floor because I could not let my mother go. She was all I had , I thought.
Till a hand touched my shoulders. That hand was a frail hand and seemed to have aged more in the past few days. My neighbor patti’s hand.
She held me and transmiited strength through her frail hands onto my masculine body. She walked beside as I carried my mother on her last journey. Her frail body bent in half and her stooped form hiding her intense grief from me.
We came back together and Patti stayed back with me and did not go back to her house next door. Patti saw to it that I ate my food, even standing and watching if I did swallow a morsel when grief had blocked my throat and did not let food or water through without a struggle.
Patti was there when I got my first job offer, she was there in the evenings to receive me back from work and cook me a good meal, she was there when I applied to study further and she was there for my graduation.
Unknown to me she had gone about finding some suitable girls for my wedding and I did not hesitate to accept her choice, which she did choose.
For some reason I thought she chose a bride who resembled my mother. After the wedding, I was very busy with work, higher job prospects, my bride, her family and my prospective family. Little did I notice Patti moving away from me, till she moved away to join my mother.
She knew she did not have to keep me company anymore nor did she have to look after me. She knew my mother needed her and was waiting for her. I love my Patti now more than ever before.

No comments: