DIY

A piece of childhood

Over at The Zen Mama’s blog I read a beautiful post  today that took me right back to my childhood days and those lazy summer vacations. Kalyani paati, my great grandmother and my mother’s mother was an amazing woman who ruled her roost and brood with the proverbial iron hand in velvet glove and a soft heart. I have never known her except via anecdotes and stories about her through my own grandmother and my mother. I loved hearing these, especially from my mom because she had a way of telling it that kept me enthralled and desperate for more.

Kalyani paati, a tiny package of a woman, was a darling loved by all, in spite of her outwardly stern demeanor. She seemed to know everything about everything, had a solution to every problem and was an expert at – well – everything. She was the original DIY specialist and Ms.Fix It. If a tap leaked, she could fix it. If an area needed flooring, she did it. If she fancied a sit out in one part of our bungalow, she built it. Shelves? Yes. She could put them up. But her biggest asset was her expertise with gardening and cooking. Blessed with a green thumb, she had an extensive variety of crop, both edible and decorative in her garden. She loved spicy chutneys and could make several types, with produce from her garden.

The property we lived in was a self-sufficient estate on a huge plot of land with little residential constructions all over the place separated by these lush gardens. Each little house was added along the way as the family grew – members got married and need their space. Kalyani paati had three sons and a daughter and the daughter was my maternal grandmother. Doted upon by her brothers naturally.

My mother would say that all the wood fittings would shine and the brass fixtures would gleam with the loving maintenance of Kalyani paati. In corners of the garden, composting was done to make fertilizer for the plants. So Kalyani paati was not educated – but overflowing with knowledge gained (from her own parents perhaps?) and the people she interacted with. Mom told me there was a horse, a donkey and a snake that Kalyani paati tended. She worshiped the snake and seemed to be able to communicate with her animals. Talk about a woman aware of all the senses!

The kids (there were enough to form a cricket team, what with uncles, aunts and cousins and their progeny – in fact, they did play cricket!) hung around worrying Kalyani paati as they grew up – and would desperately wait for her to harvest something from the garden and cook it into delicacies such as steamed or stir-fried veg and stuff. Everyone wanted to taste whatever she made. She had nimble fingers that could pick up leaves and weave baskets to distribute her excess produce. She carved toys from wood and covered them with tiny beads – she had great eyesight until she breathed her last somewhere in her nineties. I am proud to say I have some of her beautiful bead work. She did intricate embroidery. She was an awe-inspiring and awesome person and is remembered very fondly by everyone whose life she touched.

Just thinking about whatever I’ve heard about her and our childhood home lifts my mood and energizes me.

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Cheers!

Vidya

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Betsy at Zen-Mama
    March 10, 2011 at 4:38 am

    What an interesting woman she must have been! Where is this property? I really felt a part of it with your descriptions.

    Thanks for the mention Vidya! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I’m going to do a follow up one when it’s time to plant the summer vegetables. Hope you’ll come by again (or I’d love it if you subscribed!)

  • Reply
    Vidya Sury
    March 10, 2011 at 5:12 am

    Betsy, my childhood was in Mumbai (India) – and today, there is a concrete jungle where this property used to be. Your post really made me feel wonderful, as do all your posts, actually. Been a subscriber to your blog for a long while now 🙂 and love it. Do keep in touch.

  • Reply
    Bloom Where You Are Planted - Vidya Sury
    May 28, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    […] Last week, while returning from my visit to the doctor, I saw a young chap by the roadside selling lotus flowers. The sight of this beautiful flower made me think of the phrase “bloom where you are planted” and brought back some childhood memories. […]

  • Reply
    Rachna Parmar
    September 25, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    This was so lovely. The beautiful memories. I’ve heard something similar about my maternal grandmother. She passed away when l was very young and l’ve heard so many fond tales about her. About her cooking and other skills. The women in those days. It’s fascinating how they handled their households and brought up their children. Loved hearing about your great grandmother.
    Rachna Parmar recently posted…Exams, Maids and Things From Here and ThereMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      September 25, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      Thank you Rachna. Stories about our grandparents and great grandparents are so fascinating. I find it inspiring to see what fulfilling lives they led, with zero technology. My great grandma is legendary :D.Any mention of her instantly brings on awe and one big grin over her exploits. Hugs to you. I find it so sweet you found this post!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…10 ways to express gratitudeMy Profile

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