Friday, June 30, 2006

Singing songs of loss and love

Just a short post dedicated to my grandfather, Mr. M.R. Subramaniam aka "Madras Thatha", who passed away a week ago.

He lived in India when I was growing up, so I only saw him every few years when I'd go there with my family, or when he and my grandmother would come to visit us for a few months at a time. I was always a little afraid of him. My impression of him was that he was a very disciplined man, who got up at the crack of dawn, always did his early morning yoga exercises, and didn't really tolerate silliness or bad behavior. But I also remember him putting up with a lot of questions from me, and letting the kids hang out in the one airconditioned room in his house. He had this little brown dog (named Binky, I think), who hung around the outside of his house. He might have been a stray but I think he always came around for my grandfather to feed him. Apparently no one else could go near this dog, or he'd bite, but he and my grandfather got along just fine.

My parents used to say I picked up some of my personality traits from him: my often black and white view of the world (which I'm proud to say has mellowed over time), and my outspokenness.

My grandfather was the sort of guy who, upon seeing you for the first time in several months or years, would tell you honestly whether you looked thinner or fatter and whether you should do something about it. One of the last times I saw him, even though he was pretty weak and frail, he told me I looked thinner, and that was good. Since I always knew the assessment was coming, I could mentally prepare for it, and that made it ok. For whatever reason, it never really bothered me. I just knew that was the way he was, and I sort of dug it. I guess that's the privilege of age and wisdom- you can get away with saying exactly what you're thinking.

Here's a picture of us with him, in 2002:

So that's my tiny little tribute to a good man who lived a good life, and made it possible for me to be who I am. TJ and I will be joining my parents in Savannah next week for a "13th day" memorial ceremony for him.

1 comment:

  1. I was very touched and emotional to read your beautiful tribute to thatha.He loved you very much and very proud of your accomplishments.Let me have the copy of the picture.I want to enlarge it.Look forward to seeing you and TJ.Love


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