Amma, rajiperiyamma & grandma; and bits of family gossip :)


My Amma(mom) is a very spirited person. In fact shes the most spirited person I ever know. Shes super cool and so much fun to be with. I remember one of my friends telling me once that she was the only woman she knew, who could just light up the room as soon as she was there. I had almost forgotten how awsome it used to be when we woman in the family meet. Thats just my amma, her 2 elder sisters and me.

But all that was long gone . We hardly have such meet ups due to periyammas illness and rajiperiyammas relocation to Trivandrum to be with her daughter. At the begining of this year, one fine morning periyamma (ammas elder sister and my most favourite aunt) who lives in the next house just woke up from bed and fell down. We spend 22 days in the hospital first 15 in the stroke icu and the rest in the stroke ward. After she was bought home, there were always relatives in the house for sometime. But after a month or so everything was back to normal. It came back to the four of them- my periyappa and periyamma (uncle &a aunt) in the next house and my parents in mine with 3 dogs!

But after a few months, I began to realise that amma was had started venting about the amount of work she had to do as she has to take care of 2 families with 3 different types of diet needs and lack of a maid. It was physically very challenging for her so I come down to help every weekend. But our conversations had become limited because both of us were always busy – cooking meals with and without salt, with and without oil, with and without spices, with and without sugar, ( now it was always a question of with or without! ) Or cleaning or rearranging or doing the laundry and sorting the clothes, sending some to the ironer and to respective cupboards in both houses, taking care of periyamma and so on. There always seemed to be heaps to things to be done around.

But today after months, incidently we sat down with 2 mugs of black coffee and a plate of ‘chakka varuthathu'(jackfruit chips) in the upstair balcony because it was raining and there wasnt anything to do till the rain stopped. Usualy she slept a little in the afternoons because she was waking up at 4 everyday but somehow she dint today. After a little bit of gossip about a particular neighbour, 😉 she seemed to get into her old self and started telling old tales.

My grandmother had 3 daughters and one son. Though she was very partial to the son like all brahmin moms I felt that the 3rd aunt rajiperiyamma was her least favourite. I always wanted to know what was the reason and as soon as I asked this, amma started laughing and told me the story. It seems in her younger days rajiperiyamma never did any real housework, she was always reading or whiling away her time in front of the mirror or her books (she was the prettiest and studiest of the 3 sisters). So after her marriage, one fine day her mother in law asked her to make dosas for breakfast. Rajiperiyamma had no idea how to make it. And instead of keeping the dosa kallu in the proper way, since she dint know how to, periyamma kept it ulta – the good side down. Her mother in law and sisters were horrified 😉 So they started yelling at her or something. So to escape the horror scene periyamma simply said “we never make dosa in our house, its always left over rice porridge (pazhankanji) from previous day for breakfast! 😉 😉

So on the next visit, the mother in law complained to my grandmother that it was a shame that they fed their children pazhankanji and also about her daughter in laws lack of knowledge in household skills! My grandmother was furious when she heard this as they were considered to be a wealthy and well known family in Vaikom and her husband (my grandfather) was the vice chairman of the muncipal corporation at the time and the mother in laws husband was ‘only a school headmaster’. She felt very insulted and it was as if her daughter had bestowed shame on their family. 😉 😉 And from that day onwards rajiperiyamma always got the cold shoulder from my grandmother 😉 I really dont remember my grandmother ever saying anything about rajiperiyamma to me or anytime or going for visits in her house. Even my cousin Maya who is rajiperiyammas daughter was not liked by her! This I know because at the time of her marriage she got none of the family heirloom ornaments which my grandmother had reserved for her granddaughters!!
I dint know it was a ‘dosa kallu’ that did the trick. ;);)

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