REMEMBERING SAMPATH MAMA


Sampath mama has been a guide and mentor for me in many ways. He was the one who asked me to study costing, write Banking Services Recruitment Board examination to join Indian Bank. His exhortation that we should earn the blessings of our parents always rings in my ears. He had the uncanny knack of looking ahead and was very open in saying his views and accepting what he cannot do.

Sujatha (his daughter) as a child would pronounce ‘THA’ as ‘KA’. So Thatha was Kaka for her. Radha and I would keep teasing her by asking her the color of the crow, when she answers ‘KAKA KARUPPU’. We would turn around and ask her, ‘Oh thatha karuppa?’ For that the poor kid who was extremely fond of thatha and the love was mutual would say k/kfk/
Shyam (his son) was born on 26 Dec 1976. (My mother dreamt that a boy child would be born to my mami on Christmas night ). Since my mother’s dream rarely fails, Mama and Mami were very sure it would come true. On 25th night Mami felt uneasy, packed her bag for going to the hospital for delivery. I ran to call paati from Kalyannagar association where she was attending a concert. The doctor said there was still time and wanted us to go back home but mama said, “ I’ll pay the room rent let my mom and wife stay here. Shyam was born a few hours later. (I suggested his name too)

Shyam is very special to me. I discovered the Yashodha in me for I was his nanny in more ways than one. (He used to call me Ouvai). I was doing my Pre-university in Queen Mary’s College and would invariably be free by 1.20 PM and come home by 2. My job was to squeeze the sweet lime and get the juice ready for Shyam, feed him and put him to bed and take care of him thereafter. One day I had all the afternoon lectures and came home only at 4 PM. A furious and worked up Paati confronted Me 'engaedi poiette, en late, yaru kulandaikku juice kuduppa, parthuppa, thavichchu thannia poietten’. I let her finish, took the wailing child from her arms and told her 'patti college 3.45 ku dan mudiyum.’ Later we all laughed over it.

I can’t write about Shyam without tears in my eyes, for I have undergone the pain of losing him at the age of 20 years. When memories of Sampath mama and his family come they are like the opening of the flood gates of a dam. It is enough to say that Radha, Amma and I shared a very special bond with thatha, patti and Sampath mama and family for we lived as a joint family for 11 years.

Urmila Devanathan



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