Appa is on my mind a lot this month. Given that this is the month that he spent hospitalized three years back (how time flies…), it is not a surprise that memories are overtaking me. I started blogging as an outlet for the intense thoughts and fog that were crowding my mind in the winter of 2011, following Appa’s passing. While my writing was my outlet and helped me process what was, hands down, the most difficult time of my life, there was more before the tough times hit us. Much much more. I realize that I haven’t ever written about the tons of happy memories that I have with Appa, which come back to delight me at the most unexpected times. I remember:
At age 5: Crying big time one morning, and asking to skip school that day for no reason. And Appa pretending that he was taking me along to visit the local temple, carrying me (and as it turned out, my school books), and unceremoniously dropping me off at school instead (boy, was I mad that day!).
At age 7: Lying around in the downstairs “Hall” pretending to be fast asleep, just so Appa would carry me upstairs to bed.
At age 9: Numerous saturday evenings when Appa and I would head out to Marina Beach, just the two of us, to walk by the water, watch the waves, eat some sundal together, and take the bus back home.
At age 10: Family meetings that Appa, Amma, myself, and V held (complete with tall cold glasses of orange Rasna) – wonder what we talked about!
At age 11: Writing an article about Appa (complete with a taped picture of him with a huge mustache) when asked to write about “My Hero” for my English class.
At age 12: Sitting in the Women’s section of the “Sundaram” prayer hall for Sai Baba bhajans. With my eyes searching for Appa sitting in the Men’s section, to share a smile whenever our favorite “Subramaniam” song was featured.
At age 21: When Appa dropped me off at the airline gate with a confident smile and wished me luck as I was leaving for grad school in Canada. And didn’t sleep for the next two days straight till I called home to let them know that I had reached and all was well.
At age 24: Asking Appa – sitting on his lap and about to get married – if I felt heavy, and Appa smiling at me saying “yes, papa, just a wee bit more than when you were five” (man, I shed a tear then!).
At age 29: When Appa advised me and Amma to “not make eye contact” with my crying newborn (when she was clearly well-fed and changed and had every reason to be happy), saying she will come around if we just let her be (a practice that I try to follow to this day with the munchkins).
At age 33: Being surprised by how good Appa was at handling the newborn second munchkin, something that I hadn’t ever noticed till then.
At age 36: Confidently starting a new, higher level job, secure in the knowledge that Appa would take good care of the kids while I was away at work.
Appa passed away when I was 37. Three years later, difficult memories of his illness and passing still do intrude (how can they not?). But, there are also numerous other memories of happier and simpler times with Appa, which make me smile.
And for that wonderful relationship, I am truly thankful.