If you ever met my Paati – you would probably not find anything extraordinary. What you would see, would be just another old smiling South Indian “Mami” dressed in a traditional saree,  disposing of mundane chores gently like a sea breeze would make a leaf flutter. As you saw her tend to a great-grandchild with effortless ease, you might have just missed the fact that her joints ache with pain which would have debilitated athletes. If you saw her talking on the phone – mostly long distance calls to her children in distant lands – you might miss the fact that the person on the other line could have a name like “Adam”. If you saw her smiling at the news of one of her grandchildren – yet again – making a mark in this competitive world; you might just miss the fact that the lives of 15 of us have been immutably influenced by her unconditional love. If you just walked into the unassuming living room of an unassuming two-storied house in Jayanagar, Mysore – and saw her diligently following a Kannada TV show – you might never know that this lady, who spent her young life tending to her family in small villages & towns of Karnataka, played a mean game of Scrabble.

Amma to some, Maami to others and Paati to almost everyone else – Rukmini was a woman of grit, determination and tremendous substance. She was the kind who didn’t need Femina to teach her how to run a house, or to have progressive thoughts and opinions. She was not the kind who would let the fact that she was from “another time” come in the way of typing an email or use the internet. She was not the kind who would blindly hold on to her “way of life” and not let her children and grandchildren go out in the modern world, find their own paths and even marry the person of their choice. She gave the gift of love and freedom to her children and their children and quietly exulted at their successes and supported them through their difficulties.

My Paati was a rare person – a seemingly endless reservoir of love, patience and acceptance which suddenly, on the 23rd of June, came to an end in a hospital in Bangalore. The feeling of shock that has permeated her family is difficult to describe in words. Each one of us carries our own version of her in our minds – and each one of us is trying to deal with the suddenness of this loss. I for one am back to questioning the caprices of fate.

Where does all that love go when it dies?

I think I know the answer. It is here:

Appanna, Sheila, Raghavan, Kumuda, Sarasa, Sampath, Seshadri, Sarasi, Leela, Narsimhan, Latha, Vanamali, Padma, Ram, Shyla, Sanjay, Kavita, Adam, Anita, Abhishek, Dilnavaz, Shilpa, Shridhar, Adviteeya, Chaitanya, Anmol, Manasa, Amit, Apratim, Shree, Raghu, Kaavya, Amaresh, Chaitra, Prasad, Utsav, Kavana, Apu, Pooja, Jay, Dev, Dhruv, Satvika, Vibhav, Abhyu, Ria, Avyukth – and so many others.

She might not be with us today… but her legacy is plain for everyone to see. So many individuals, successful and accomplished in their own right – all today carry her love in their hearts. And it is here where my Paati will live on for generations to come.

Paati (1922 – 2011)

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