Apr 27, 2011

Influential Elders - Dave Uncle

Influential Elders! That is the next big series I am hoping to get started. You would all agree, a lot of people have influenced us since our childhood. The teachers we looked up to, the grandparents who loved us best, our parents who gave their all, the Uncle who meant so much, the neighbor who was always there... the list goes on.

Let's take a moment to reminisce on what some of them really did to us, how we are a better person because of these individuals, what lessons we learnt from them, what we would have lacked if not for them, etc.

Hope you will all join me in sharing about your influential elders. This will help us become influential too... The email address to send your post is nrigirl@hotmail.com. The posts will be published on a first come first served basis.

Here's presenting the first post in this series by Annan Jebarathinam Alexander. Jeba Annan is our family friend - son of my Mom's best friend - Mrs. Grace Alexander Aunty. I can surely say Mrs. Grace Alexander Aunty was quite influential in my life. Mom would send things for Aunty through me when I was on summer breaks from school/college. When I stand my bicycle at 'Muthamizh' - the residence of Mrs. Grace Alexander Aunty, she would welcome me with a broad smile, her hair long & let lose, her tone all cheerful as if she was long expecting me to visit her.

She would walk me around her garden, pluck me some jasmines, share with me how her health was fading or something in general though I don't recall what else we spoke about. Overall she would treat me very special as if I am a grownup - equal in stature to her. Aunty would not send me back empty handed but will find something like curry leaves or drum sticks from her garden to take back for Mom.

Aunty loved Mom and Mom loved Aunty. They shared great respect for each other, calling each other by proper names with qualifiers such as Mrs. Yohapushpam Livingston & Mrs. Grace Alexander. Even during their conversations it didn't seem to bother them to use these long names to address each other. If Papa was home he too would join their conversation. Oh! how I loved to watch them talk for hours - but then Aunty would politely send me away to do my home work or chores and when I don't get her hint, she would insist lovingly, "It is not good manners for little girls to listen to big people's conversation"."But I love to hear you talk Aunty" would be my unspoken response as I reluctantly walk away...

Later Aunty became very sick and passed away shortly after. I could sense a great part of my Mom was gone with her. Hard to believe it has been twenty years since then, but Aunty is still much loved and often remembered. I am grateful to Aunty for what she was to my Mom - a great friend!

Now, if you can kindly excuse my long intro... let's get back to our first post in the series of Influential Elders. Please welcome Jebarathinam Annan as he comes here to share from his heart about his influential elder!

Dave Uncle

I remember, in my late teens, when I went to stay with my mother during summer vacations (in early 80's), there was an Uncle (must have been 85+ years old) living next door. His wife Kiruba aunty called him as "Dave uncle" to me. He had lost his eye sight due to his old age, was able to hardly walk and so would sit in his own easy-chair close to the corner window of their living room (adjacent to our house). He would use a walking stick and take baby steps to go to the bathroom in say, 5 minutes, whenever he needed to go. Every early morning, if I am awake, I will be able to hear him listening to FEBA radio station (loudly) listening to Christian devotional programs - at 4.45 AM in the morning!

One day, my mother asked me to go give some eatable to Kiruba aunty. And I had the first golden opportunity to get acquainted with Dave uncle. Turned out that he became one of the most memorable persons of my life. The kind of stories he had to share, the gentle and kind words he had to say, boy, I wonder if we see such personalities anymore in our lives. I hardly am able to remember his face now - he had a very black thickened skin on both his cheeks. I could not stare at his eyes as he was not able to see anything straight, it would just simply wander like a rabbit all the time.

Dave uncle would go on talking for hours together about his youth days where he had gone out to hunting with his cousins in Kalakkad hills (the wild life sanctuary had been established years later); where he would hunt 'Maan', 'MiLa', 'Kaatu kozhi' among other animals. I would sit and listen in awe wondering how he is able to remember all those meticulous details, to the dot.

Kiruba aunty was also a remarkable person I believe. She was a bit plump, and had this distinct leucoderma white lips and big white patches on her cheeks and forehead. And an unbelievable graceful smile on her face all the time, as if "all is well", even when she would be doing tons and tons of chores to take care of Dave uncle day-in, day-out.

Unfortunately, my summer vacations were too distracted and my encounters with Dave uncle were sort of limited. In a couple years, my mother moved out building her own house (she had been renting a house next to Dave uncle's house). The next year I went to Tirunelveli, I heard Dave uncle had passed away and that Kiruba aunty lives all alone by herself. I went and saw her once, I could not stand watching her going through such a life without Dave uncle, so I didn't go see her afterwards. But I would see her at church or walking to the stores near her house. She would stop and enquire as to how things were, amid her all is well smiles.

That last time I met her, Kiruba aunty said that Dave uncle would "wait for Jeba" to come home on vacations so he would be able to "talk to someone". Little had I realized until then, that I had been a rare source of encouragement for Dave uncle during those "visits". From that day onwards, whenever I heard FEBA radio, that thick skinned face would flash across my mind, and I would hear that soft, gentle voice I loved hearing, for at least sometime in my life...


KParthasarathi said...

It is a good idea to start a series of posts on the influence of elders on us.The post on Dave uncle was touching.Most of the elders have something good to share from their experience and in turn they enjoy the company of youngsters to boost their low spirit in their twilight years.

A said...

Very good initiative. Change your blog title from NRI to Series Girl....:)))

Dave uncle post is touching.

I liked the introduction too.

Renu said...

Nice idea and may be some inspiration to us!

Y L said...

I expect many posts in this series.
I appreciate the elderly who are friendly with the much younger.
We lived in the back street.But I do not remember seeing uncle David. Kiruba aunty is a sweet soft spoken friendly lady with whom I have had some friendly conversations.
After her husband died , she went to UK to live with her son.Later we heard that she passed away there.Since she looked young, I thought that she died young.
How people influence each other.They lived some 30 years or so back and we had only a brief acquaintance with them and we still remember them.
Thanks Jeba, for starting this series.

raji said...

That was a nice concept.You have nice ideas .Well the begining was good.It was nice to meet 'Dave uncle'.


A great idea to go with this series......
Looking ahead to know some nice people here again.


Bikramjit said...

a very good idea, will definitely try to be part of this one too :)


Tomz said...

Hi NRI Girl, that was absolutely a novel theme to feature people under the series 'influential elders'..best wishes fr the series..

Anonymous said...

Hei Queeny, May God bless you with more creative ideas like this.

Lionel uncle is Mrs.Grace Alexander's pet.

Her children's love on her is really great. God bless them.

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