Saturday, April 18, 2015

P -Palo Alto – California, USA 2000

Four generations: Three continents: Two world wars: One village   
These are tales spanning four generations spread across three continents in between and after the two world wars of people who set forth under different circumstances from one small village called Agaramangudi.   

The story line traverses through different time lines, locations or incidents with no particular order. The only order being the alphabetical one – A to Z meant purposefully for the A to Z challenge. These posts can be read as standalone posts, but would be best comprehended if you read them along with their prelude provided as a link.

Palo Alto – California, USA  2000

On the tenth day after the death of her husband, Kannammal for the last time was draped in silk saree and all her wedding jewellery. Soon the women gathered in the room, removed her ‘Thali’, the wedding chain,  broke her bangles  and tonsured her head.  She resigned to the numbness that permeated her soul as her waist long hair fell in one single swoop when the barber ran the scissors over the back of her neck.  

Her nine yard silk sarees were burnt down as no woman would take them since they belonged to an inauspicious barren woman. She wore a pale cotton saree and covered her tonsured head .  It was a costume that she would wear all the rest of her life. Every new moon day she would shave the hair off her head and keep it tonsured.     

She came back to live in Sri Lakshmi Nivas with her brother Subbu and his wife Susee. For the rest of her life, she would oversee the  birth  of the children and grandchildren for everyone in the extended family and the neighbourhood.

While the other women in the family were bogged down with back to back child birth she raised the breed of children, weaning them away from their mothers,  cleaning them, burping them, potty training them and filling their childhood with many wonderful stories and lullabies that put them to sleep.  Her lullabies particularly in the Ragam Neelambari  were transmitted from one mother to another across generations and formed a part of the family folklore.

Over the years, Kannammal, by virtue of being single, mobile and without encumbrances carved a role for herself  by travelling all over and staying with relatives. She was the one they relied on to be the extra help whenever anyone in the extended family needed help for a few months, owing to illness or child birth. Over the years when she raised scores of other people’s children and grandchildren with a cheerful disposition, she had made herself indispensable  to any young woman who needed a helping hand after child birth. 

It was thus that Kannammal, still going strong  despite her age travelled to Palo-Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley to  help her youngest brother’s  daughter who had to get back to full time work as a software programmer and needed help babysitting her new-born twins.  

To be continued ....

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