Purple, Curls, and Sunshine Smile

There are some distinct memories you associate with some people in your life. I associate my Raji Periamma with summer vacations.

My childhood memories brim with them. It’s a ritual every year to stay a good ten days in my Periamma’s home in Sriperumbudur right around the time of the world-famous Ramanujar temple annual festival. The otherwise quiet and quaint town brims with life during these ten days. The cement roads filled with bright white kolams, hundreds of bhajan groups dancing in tune to their mridangam (instrument)and jing-juks and proceeding to the grand temple, the mouth-watering aroma wafting from every home and Chathrams (rest houses) around.

You could just walk into any random house, and you’re guaranteed to return with your tummy filled with a fantastic feast. We would get squeezed into the crowds during these festivals but still maintain the deathly grip of my mom’s hands through it all. I especially enjoyed the Gandhapodi Urchavam that happens on the last day, where people throw the powder on the deity and themselves. The deity being swung by the palanquin bearers does a jubilant dance, and watching it amidst the dim yellow, powdery fog while standing in the safe haven of the Soda shop run by one of Periamma’s friends is a mesmerizing memory I’ll cherish forever.

But what I loved the most about all these visits was not just the joy and the celebration but the peaceful hush that came after it. Looking back, I realize the calmer moments shine brighter. The petticoats stitched by the deaf old man and how my Periamma used to talk to him with exaggerated hand moments. We got the rose milk from two houses down, and how our Periamma took us to their home with a big lotta (a traditional pitcher) to get our fill. The memories of taking a local bus and going to Gokul Dham and how our Periamma gave me the bangles and earrings that belonged to my sister to wear for those outings. The memories of drawing water from the well in the house and Periamma watching over us with a smile. Being afraid of going to the bathroom that’s outside the house and Periamma waiting with sleepy eyes till we finish our business; looking through the windows while monkeys pranced about creating havoc and Periamma chiding them; The crystal clear sounds of everybody around calling my Periamma “Bankaramma” (colloquial term – means wife of the banker), and she responded with a smile and a nod.

These memories make a kaleidoscope with my Periamma at its epicenter, like a shining bright Purple gemstone through the many blurs of color.
I keep forcing myself to remember all these and only these as I try to drown the thoughts about how she died. Yes, we lost her, and it’s been a month.

A month since an unfillable void was created in our lives. We lost her to a tragic accident. A grotesque horror one at that. It was a hit and run by a drunk driver right in front of her house, where she had lived and breathed for years. There’s a surge of useless, helpless anger every time I think about it, and believe me, I think about it every damn day. It’s been a month, and the pain is still raw. Fate is the most, especially when it takes away peaceful and genteel souls in the most gruesome manner. But do I blame fate for this? Or the man who was arrogant enough to do this because he had powerful connections? What can I do besides sit and fume with tears running down, juxtaposing the horrible event and happy memories? We could talk in lengths about complaints and legal actions, but the truth is- seeing the person who you loved dearly, who had smiled and laughed with you just that morning, lying down lifeless in the icebox with a face that’s beyond recognition; It just takes the fight out of you. You are left back as a grieving bundle of mess who keeps questioning the pointlessness of everything. Your anxiety and depression that you’ve been brushing under the carpet kick back in, and you have an existential crisis.

After going through all of it, I’m seeking solace in the comfort of my familiar routine. Letting go of some of my pain through my words. I know time heals wounds like it always does. For now, I’m dealing with it the best way I can- Talking to my mom often; reconnecting with my sister who just lost her mother, and mourning with her; reaching out to my people just asking after them; writing a post in my blog after years; looking at Tharun’s glorious smile and determined attempt to stand up and walk. Trying to remember the best of my Periamma. Associating her with all things bright and vibrant. Seeing her wearing her Purple silk saree, taming her curly, tufty hair neatly with a clip, always wearing a smile.

She’ll always be that; Purple, Curls, and Sunshine smile.

Rest in Peace, my beloved Perimms. You’ll always stay in our hearts.



I am Krupa, a regular nutcase, with a crazy impulse to write lot of stories and poems. Am Indian, crazy, creative, bookworm, incurable romantic and insatiable Coffee lover.

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