Apr 30, 2011

Influential Elders - Ms.Annathai

Here's my Mom Mrs. Yohapushpam Livingston sharing about her childhood friend Ms.Annathai, as part of our ongoing series: Influential Elders.
Annathai Akka

Annathai Akka is about 10 years older than me and her love towards me is unconditional. She was a neighbour to my grandparents and when my mother came there as the daughter in law of the house an instant friendship was established between the little girl and my mother who might have been about 20 years elder. This relationship lasted for more than 50 years till my mother passed away and continues with me and my children. She is now around 75 years old.

Though not related, she called my mother athai and my father maama......aunt and uncle. She had told me how my mother used to bundle up the baby me and hand over to her and how she used to take me to the nearby convent to pluck flowers for me etc etc. She used to enjoy my baby talks it seems and one particular incident she narrated made me smile. My grandfather used to grind beetle leaves in a small stone and it seems I used to go and sit near him watching him closely. It seems he would tease the little me saying "Isn't your husband a bad boy?" (kalla paya pendatti), and I would respond, "No Grandpa, he is a good boy!" (kalla paya pendatti illai thaatha, nalla paya pendatti). I am really happy to know that I have defended my husband even at my early age. This incident I know only because of Annathai Akka.

While growing up, she used to comb and clean my hair and while doing this job, I will insist that she should tell me stories. She told me cinema stories which she had seen. In those days we did not have any cinema theatres in our village and she had seen a few when she had the tailoring training in a nearby city and she will narrate all these stories to me. She often came to our house to sleep over and helped my mother in many ways. Both of them will sit together to design and stitch our dresses all the time sharing some stories.

She came with us to pluck the ripe tamarinds from the trees. We will climb up the trees through the lower branches of the trees and we will jump on these branches making the tamarinds to fall. In spite of her tailoring job she used to spend most of the time with us. In my childhood Annathai Akka was a central figure. My future plans at that time included her. When my mother became very ill when we were young, she took care of us and my mother and in appreciation of this help, I remember my parents presenting her a saree . She was a great support to my mother always. When my mother died at the age of 81, Annathai akka was there to give the final bath and dressing.

She had a uniquely designed pair of ear studs which I liked. In her twenties or so, she joined our Christian religious group in which people do not wear jewels. She was good looking and she was a tailor by profession and so many marriage proposals came for her. But she refused them for some reason or other. May be she waited for a better person. She remains single. Now, when I think of it, I wonder why my parents did not compel her to marry someone of their choice since they had much influence over her.

After I got married, whenever I went to my parents house there will be an invariable visit to see Annathai akka to taste her simple village food. She is a prayer warrior and her prayers for me and my children support us much. Once I was sick for a few days and my mother came to see me with Annathai akka and I was very happy to taste the food prepared by her. For a few months my husband arranged for a fasting prayer in our house, on second Saturdays. Annathai akka travelled about 150 km to support my husband in these meetings. She will arrive early morning with another sister and immediately start cleaning the house and the campus to keep it ready for the meeting.

Even now I sometimes long for her company and feel like going over to spend a few days with her. Recently she came and stayed with me for 3 days; but she was in a hurry to go back to water her plants. Her love for my mother, me, my children is unconditional. It is our duty to pass on this love to others with whom we come into contact.


NRIGirl said...

Amma: Thank you so much for sharing about Annathai Akka. She is very special to me. Even today she would hug and give me a nice kiss saying 'Makkale'.

One of my childhood memories of Kudankulam is of our visits to her home where she would give us murukku and coffee.

I feel so much that everyone is getting older...

Jacinth said...

Dear Periamma,
It's a good writing about our Annathai Akka. She loves me so much too, and prays for me and my family. She used to make 'Munthiri Kothu'(Snack from our place) and send to me thru whoever visiting USA. I love her and pray for her often for the healing of knee pain which is bothering her recently.

raji said...

Reading about annathai akka was a pleasure.The friendship continued through generations!great!I also liked the fact that this lady was always there for your amma n her family.Nice write up amma (yohapushpam amma)

Anonymous said...

that a really nice post!!! i'm new to your blog and its very nice!!! :)
you are lucky to have some one so special :)

Y L said...

Thank you all for your comments.
I think she did not wish to get married so that she could take care of her aged mother.

A said...


Thanks a lot for sharing this.


You made your mom, full time writer now :)))

R. Ramesh said...

unconditional love...what a blesssing..

Always Happy said...

my regards and respect to Annathai Akka. She seems to be a genuine lady with a heart of gold.God bless her with all happiness.

Y L said...

visited the native village last week.
had nice chats with Annathai akka.
Read out what is written about her and also the comments.
She was very happy.She told me that she was thinking that all have forgotten her love and she was glad to know that there are people who have loving memories of her.

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