It has been brought to my notice that it has been quite some time since I posted on my blog. It is my dear and only reader who has been asking why I have been remiss. I had to tell him that since all my writing has been nocturnal so far – the result of sleepless nights – I suddenly seem to have been overtaken by sleep and have had to abandon my blog temporarily. Now I have determined to write – day or night – and not be dependent on my sleep patterns.
Apropos of that, my iPhone has been telling me that I have been sleeping for seven and a half hours straight when I know for a fact that I have spent much of that time out of bed. Perhaps I should be carrying the phone on my self for it to record my actual sleep time.
I have long wanted to write about the two people in my life I have really loved and looked up to – my Adyar Thatha and Adyar Patti. I wonder why we called them that because they did not move to Adyar till my grandfather was eighty three years old. They had lived in Triplicane for most of their lives before being forced to move from their rental house to another rental – a flat this time – in Mylapore. They lived in Mylapore for fifteen years.
I wonder who added the Adyar to their names. It must have been some wannabe relative who was awed by the connotations of “Adyar” and disdained the Triplicane tag. Somehow Mylapore didn’t stick to their names. For the uninformed, Triplicane was distinctly downmarket, though in those days many middle-class Brahmin families made it their home in their genteel poverty. They were highly respected families as far as education went and deeply religious, but quite poor and led frugal lives. Mylapore was home to the fairly affluent Brahmins who were still very religious but tended to be advocates and judges, and their women wore silk sarees and diamonds as they bustled about. As for the Adyar set, who had ever met one of them? They belonged to the posh group who never set foot on the road (they possessed the few cars owned by Brahmins in those days) and moved in hallowed circles of wealth and power. I have no doubt that the Adyar people looked down upon the Mylapore Mamis as being too traditional while they in turn would turn up their noses at any Triplicane connection. In fact when my grandparents moved into the Mylapore flat in the care of my uncle, the tenants in the downstirs flat kept talking loudly (to make sure the upstairs family could hear them) about cheap people moving into their area. It was funny to think my uncle paid more rent than them and had more symbols of affluence to display than the denigrators below. I remember that each time I visited my grandparents the very same people were not above running to the windows to catch a glimpse of me.
Fifteen years later my uncle built his own house in a large plot in Adyar because he wanted his parents to live in a house owned by the family. It had been a long-expressed wish of my grandfather’s, though he had no expectation of its ever coming true, and my uncle being a devoted son set out to fulfil his wish and also named the house after my grandmother as “Meenakshi Nilayam”. Both my grandmothers were named Meenakshisundaram though it was a name more commonly used for men.
But through all these moves, my grandparents remained Triplicane people at heart. They remained who they were, in the best possible way, though their surroundings and circumstances changed, and never forgot their past nor did they distance themselves from anyone in their lives. They led their lives according to what they had always believed and no amount of change could mould them into different people. They had so little of their own yet they seemed to be very rich in themselves.
Sometimes I wonder if in the quest to adapt we do not somehow lose ourselves.