I was in Chennai last week end and we went to visit Chelli mami. My sister and I walked into her house unannounced and were welcomed with a warm smile that touches your heart and tells you that your visit is genuinely appreciated. Within 10 minutes we had been persuaded to eat (mami always seems to have extra food) and the drumstick Sambar and potato curry combination was perhaps the best meal I had in years now. I was reminded of the many times I had eaten in her house as a young girl and wondered how she managed to get the recipes perfect every time – it always smelled and tasted the same. When we left after half hour, she had packed a large bottle of tender mango pickles for us to take home. And all I remember of the time we were there is that we were laughing all the time – again like old times.
Mami is not one of those wealthy old ladies living a life of leisure. In all her 72 years of life there has never been a day when she has not had to worry about something or other and money has always been scarce. Having lost her parents as a child, she was brought up by a widowed childless aunt who worked as a cook to bring up the orphaned kids – mami and her siblings. After completing school, she worked as an elementary school teacher in a Sarada Vidyalaya school and was the bread winner for her family as the man she married was a very kind man but never made any money. Both mama and mami had a very large heart and were always helping their poorer relatives even though they had 2 daughters and a son to take care of. It was always amazing to see how they managed to do all this on mami’s meager salary as a school teacher. I have never known her to be insecure or worry about anything. There is nothing petty about her house – her heart is so generous that she gives away everything. It is impossible for you to leave her house without eating something – at least a cup of coffee. She has always lived in very small apartments but they seem to have a way of expanding to hold any number of people who choose to walk in, so much like her heart. She has so little money but in the final analysis, she is always the “giver”. And she gives you the things that you cannot buy anywhere for money – genuine affection, traditional simple food and lots of laughter. When you leave her house your heart is always light and stomach is always full.
Life has been pretty one sided in giving her more than a fair share of misfortunes but mami has never stopped laughing. And she never complains.I was happy to see that her children have inherited her ability to laugh. There was always laughter in their house and it continues to this day – they know how to laugh back at life whatever life may throw at them. She has taught them something they don’t teach you anywhere else and so tough to master.

2 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Nice story.

  2. Anonymous Says:

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