Well! I have been here on earth for a pretty long time! So the memories of childhood are still there, but only the highlights.

Life was on the move—that I remember. My mother was always, packing and unpacking—moving house, moving from city to city, and travelling for a short trip. And strangely enough I continue to do this even today…a family tradition as it were.

Illness dominated my childhood. My earliest memory are of my mother carrying me (I was heavy and had callipers to boot) and boarding a bus to travel miles to the Orthopaedic Hospital in Mumbai for treatment for polio. We stayed in a friend’s house facing a square tank of water in Bandra, Bombay for nearly six months. Her efforts have made me near normal. Throughout my childhood some physiotherapist was always trying to make me breathe—yoga, western exercise whatsoever—and I am still at it. Asthma was another bugbear that I continue to fight out and where my mother stopped my husband and kids have taken over seeing to it that I do not enthusiastically exert myself and land up with bad attacks! There have been many nights when my mother or brothers supported me in a reclining position so that I could breathe!

The other constant family memory is of cycles and visitors. All of us rode cycles and learning it was an art or disaster (in the case of my brother Arvind who got one wallop on his back and he got his balance instantaneously all right!). My Uncle used to have a cycle shop and that was part of our growing up. I used to ride a bike to school along
a beautiful avenue. Sadly, years later when I tried to ride a bike, I had a fall like Humpty Dumpty.

Today, the world talks of secularism…my mother welcomed anybody and everybody into her home. Our home was the hub for all kinds of friends, all ages to land up in Madras for medical treatment. We also had foreigners coming in who would enjoy our food. She cooked so many meals for so many people that if we had kept a record, maybe she would have made it to the Record Books. We too visited Muslim, Christian, Parsi and other Indian states ethnic communities like Gujerathis and Maharashtrians,
stayed with them and imbibed their culture. My mother was thought to be a fairy
Godmother in many families as she helped them to celebrate weddings,
deliveries, setting up homes and modernising girls from rural areas. She taught
many how to cook and serve elegantly simple to elaborate meals. Many people
even today remember the meals she served!

Cars were an integral part of our childhood. My father had a different car for each of us to be brought home from the Nursing homes after we were born. Even though my third brother Barath was born at home, there was a new car for his first outing. My uncle had a Citroen and I still remember how it would rise up on its suspension when we rode in it. Buicks, Desotos, were part of our childhood.

Music was an important part of our upbringing. My parents would sing as we drove long distance in cars (no music systems in those days) and I learnt classical vocal music—as all good Tamil-Brahmin girls were supposed to do. Due to my ill-health I think my brothers learnt by osmosis more than I did. My companion in all this was my cousin Gayathri –we were born a few months apart and did everything together—going to school, learning music, playing, fighting and even today we bond big time.

We also had all kinds of dogs and animals like hens and cows that were part of our establishment….mind you all this in urban settings. We had practically  every
breed of dog, but a Doberman named Kaiser was our favourite. Thank God we never
had cats!

These are all the pleasant memories…my brothers would add a great deal about the unpleasant ones of a dysfunctional family…but that is not what I want to remember. What I do regret is that there were many photos that recorded our childhood. When my father moved away from his establishment into my brother Ramana’s home, all of them were lost by the wayside. A few still exist in each of our four records…the rest is gone!

Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Akanksha, Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Delirious, Gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie11, Nema, Noor, Ordinary Joe, Paul, Maria the Silver Fox Rohit, Will Knott, and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get seventeen different flavours of the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Anu. In case I have missed out on anybody, my apologies.

About padmum

You could call me Dame Quixote! I tilt at windmills. I have an opinion on most matters. What I don't have, my husband Raju has in plenty. Writer and story teller, columnist and contributer of articles, blogs, poems, travelogues and essays to Chennai newspapers, national magazines and websites, I review and edit books for publishers and have specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. My other major interest used to be acting on Tamil and English stage, Indian cinema and TV. I am a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff and write about India's heritage, culture and traditions. I am interested in Vedanta nowadays. I am now an Armchair traveller/opinionator/busybody!
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5 Responses to

  1. Delirious says:

    I feel sad that you don’t have many of your childhood photos. They bring back so many memories that are often otherwise forgotten. But it sounds like even though your childhood was difficult because of health problems, that you lived in a loving home.


  2. padmum says:

    Delirious—I have asked my brother Arvind to rummage around and find some photos. I do have a few that are back in Chennai…I am in Bangalore right now and will go back and load some. Yes the love was there from all around us. My mother was the deepest bond that ties us all together…she continues to do so from up there!

    I do appreciate your wonderful, thoughtful comments. God bless you.


  3. Grannymar says:

    I enjoyed the glimpse into your childhood. Across the Continents there are things we shared. You had asthma, I had bronchitis every winter. Our mothers cooked for the hoards who descended on us, often unannounced. We always had a car, though not new for the birth of each child. We sang our way through journeys across Ireland. I had forgotten about the Citroen and the way it would rise up on its suspension when the key was turned. We never had one, but I thought they were cool!


  4. padmum says:

    Grannymar—something ties you to me and my family–this is what we call a previous life’s residue!


  5. Rummuser says:

    The functionality of the family has outlived the dis-functionality. I suspect that the photographs are safely in Appa’s collection of all kinds of paraphernalia. So, they are bound to turn up.


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