Appa passed away 10 years ago on March 21st. Every year, as winter turns into spring, my thoughts drift backwards and land on random memories of Appa. Here are a few that were on my mind this week.
When we were really little, at bedtime, V and I would climb on top of Appa and settle down for a story. The story would start promisingly enough – “When the Fox went to Moore Market…”. V and I would wait eagerly, imagining the fox traipsing through the crowded market and setting off on his adventures. But, on most days, the fox never got past arriving at Moore Market. The long work day’s exhaustion would catch up with Appa, and quick sleeper that he was, he would be fast asleep before the fox even had a prayer. V and I were left to our imaginations (which also didn’t take the fox too far).
But we fared better when Appa was home on some afternoons with us. We would play board games like “Trade”, the Indian version of “Monopoly”. I remember V running out of money one time, and immediately offering her Rs. 500. Not how the game works, of course, but I remember Appa beaming at both of us. “Remember to always be like this and help each other even when you are all grown up, ok?”, Appa said. “Of course, we will always help each other out, we are sisters!”, I remember thinking.
We bought a new clothes washer in 2010, less than a year before Appa passed away. I remember trying to figure out the settings with Appa. “Hmmm… what’s that “small load” setting?” – I wondered out loud. Appa replied, “It’s always a small load, Papa”. It’s funny how the little things stay with you. Even today, I hear Appa saying those words every time I do the laundry. And every time when life seems a little too difficult. “It’s always a small load.”
In reality, though, it was likely Appa’s frugal nature talking. Appa spent his formative years at his paternal grandparents’ home. My Kollu Thatha was apparently a highly frugal gentleman, one that Appa spoke of with much pride. Appa inherited that trademark “Haridranadhi” frugality (quite vexing to those who have to live with it, I am sure), which I am happy (and proud) to report both me and my little N have inherited in spades.
With Appa’s passing, I felt unsheltered and lost for several months, as if an umbrella held over my head had been abruptly pulled away. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a decade already. “How do you feel about it – that it’s been 10 years since Thatha passed away?”, little N asked me earlier this week.
I’ve been thinking about her question. Well. I realize that, more than any sadness or sense of loss, I feel grateful for the uncomplicated and loving relationship that I had with Appa – a relationship with absolutely no regrets. It is something special to be in someone’s presence and to realize in real time that you are so deeply loved. I had that deep love – that umbrella over my head – for 37 years, and it has truly made my life that much sweeter.