Monday, September 26, 2005

Periyaachchi - I

Aachchi means maternal grandmother. Periyaachchi means elder sister to maternal grandmother. My periyaachchi was not only the elder sister to my aachchi, she was also another-aachchi for me, as she was living with us and she was just another member of our family. Somebody told me that she was married off to someone in Thevaaram (nearby village), and she even went there to live with him. He soon died due to cholera leaving my periyaachchi an young widow. She came back to live with her younger sister to look after her children, who were my mother, my chithi (aunt) and my mama (uncle). I always respected her for her generous nature. Periyaachchi is one of the people who had a very significant role in my life, though the time period I shared with her was the shortest of them all.

“Come inside, come inside”, Periyaachchi called me. I ran to her. I knew she was going to offer me to sleep inside her saree, which she wrapped around her. We slept in the kitchen. She was warm. Thatha (maternal grandfather) was sleeping in the cot. I wondered why we both can not go there too. I suppose it is because periyachchi was not married to thatha. “You don’t stay in one place and you roll all over the kitchen. Take care that you do not hit your head against the door frame, also do not go the other side, as the lamp is there on the ammi (stone tool for grinding curry paste), hitting your head against ammi will hurt you too”. As there is no door to the kitchen, it saves some space. I can sleep watching thatha and periyachchi and the entire house. Do snakes come? Someone told me that snakes used to come by following those beams. That joist beam is very big and I suppose that snake was big too? That beam is just above thatha… “No that was a long time ago, before anybody lived here. Now we are all here. So snakes won’t come. Sleep, dear Lathappillai” .... I like the mornings. I jump and walk in the misty roads, holding thatha’s hands. Thatha has his torch light. How do they see if any bus comes? I jump and walk… we are going to get breakfast… road bends with a steep slope on one side.. “don’t jump, Lathapillai, come this side… don’t run..eheheh”….. there are few of my favourite rose bushes on the way. They smell very nice… “Lathapillai, what do you want?”, thatha asks me at the shop. The shopkeeper smiles at me.. “Neyyaappam”, as usual. I watch the neyyaappam being prepared. Very tasty and very satisfied. We jump and walk back.
Place :- Puliyamalai, Kerala. Age:- 3 years
(cont.)

8 comments:

Dubukku said...

Nice post.
feeling very nostalgic abt elders in my family.

Premalatha said...

Hi Michelle,

I haven't finished about her yet. She was really a very lovely woman.

I hope to change the flow away from "my story", as I write more.

Premalatha said...

Hi Dubukku,

I was brought up by elders and they had more influence in shaping me up than my parents had.

PS: please do criticise whereever you feel it needs improving..

Thanks.

Stephanie said...

Prema,

I have to agree. That is a very nostalgic story. Reminds me of being young with my own elders long ago. Thank you for writing it.

I also find it fascinating the way the family unit is set up. It is very similiar to Navajo families. The sister of a grandmother is also a grandmother to the child. If she should be widowed, she may come to live with her sister and become a kind of second mother to her sister's children. The sister of my husband's great great grandmother was widowed and this was how she lived her life. Somewhere on the net is the names for each family member in Navajo. I wish I could find it again because I think you might find it interesting. So very similiar. :)

Premalatha said...

Hi Stephanie,

We have observed few other similarities between Navajo culture and Tamil culture, as well, didn't we?

Do you differentiate maternal grandparents and paternal grandparents? Within Tamil communities, I have seen only in Nadars we differentiate them and have different names for them. It is like maternal uncle is different from a paternal uncle Tamil culture. we have discussed about brother-like / sister-like relations, how incest in navajo/tamil culture could be with a member outside the primary family as well...

Please do post if there are differences in paternal and maternal grandparents and if you have different names for them.

Thanks for dropping by.
:)

மதி கந்தசாமி (Mathy) said...

good series.

//Do you differentiate maternal grandparents and paternal grandparents? Within Tamil communities, I have seen only in Nadars we differentiate them and have different names for them//

we sri lankans have different names for maternal & paternal grandparent too.

ammamma & ammappa

appamma & appappa

-Mathy

Premalatha said...

we sri lankans have different names for maternal & paternal grandparent too.

ammamma & ammappa

appamma & appappa

-Mathy


Hi Mathy,

Thanks for that. We (some of us) also use "appamma" for father's mother. but that was modern (I mean, not ancient). Before that, I think it was "appaththa", which got distorted into "avuththa".

These days, it is "paatti" (for father's mother). We call father's father as "paattaiyaa".

so, it is,

Aachchi, thaaththa - maternal grandparents.
Paatti, Paattaiyaa - Paternal grandparents.

The Visitor said...

Hi Lathapullai,

In Kongu Nadu (among Kongu Vellalars)

Maternal grandparents are:
Appichi and Ammichi
Paternal grandparents are:
Thaathaa and Aatha (also appaththa)