Pautima and Thatha were both very influential people. Partly because Thatha was a well known Pastor (Pastor. Paul Perinbam) and had lot of connections in India and abroad. Pautima was a prayer warrior and had a great heart to help many. Prior to getting into ministries Thatha was working in Ceylon. When my Mom was about 5 years old Thatha decided to wind up everything in Ceylon and came back to India to settle down with his family.
They started the Children’s Home Ministry in Kudankulam through which they educated many children who were less fortunate. They helped a lot of children from the family too like their nieces and nephews. Many of them are now well off and settled in all corners of India and abroad and always remain grateful to my Grandparents next to God Almighty. Thatha also established the Indian Pentecostal Church of God in Kudankulam and ministered there till the end. Thatha and Pautima had huge influence in many lives by living a good example too.
My memories of Thatha are limited but here is a few that is still fresh in my mind:
* Whenever Pautima/Thatha visited us Thatha would bring 'paul kova' (milk sweet) for us.
* When we visited them as we get ready to leave, Thatha/Pautima would walk up to the bus stop and then Thatha would slowly take a big Cadbury Chocolate from his pocket and give us all one piece from it.
* Next he would open his wallet and take out brand new notes and give us all one each.(the denomination I don't recall now)
* Pautima took good care of Thatha by keeping his diet requirements. I would help peal the roasted garlic for Thatha. When I take it to him he would say, "Thank you! God bless you very much my child". I loved to get his blessings, so I would not fail to take the garlic to him every single day of our stay with them.
* Pautima would maintain absolute silence when Thatha took his nap. We children would talk hush hush when Thatha was sleeping.
* Thatha mostly remained in his room or in his easy chair in the hall. Mom would be sitting wherever Thatha was and talking to him for hours and hours.
* Thatha would dictate letters to my Mom which she would promptly write down.
* Once when Thatha was taking a shower near the well, I was sitting on the tamarind tree by the side and seeing Thatha all covered in soap foam I commented he looked like a monkey. This became a huge issue and Pautima kept telling me I shouldn't have said that. But thatha kidded her saying, "leave the little one alone..." ("ada po pa, chinna pillaya pottu, cha... cha...")
* Thatha always bought me the wooden toy cutlery set that came in a box made of palm tree leaf. (not sure if we can get those now...)
Pautima was very affectionate. I would write letters to Pautima every week; she would prompty respond. Sometimes she would hand me a bunch of post cards in advance so that I will not run out of the supply to write to her. When she visits us, we would beg and plead to make her stay longer. We kids would hide her handbag or sandals somewhere so that she would still be home when we returned from school. This annoyed Pautima sometimes but mostly she would give in and stay a few more days. Sometimes it was my Mom who would give her a hard time not to leave. Mom would start crying and then Pautima would stay for that day. Pautima insisted on family prayer every morning and night. Her prayers would be very long as she starts praying for every single one in her memory list and we kids would doze off before the prayer actually ended.
Once when Pautima became ill we couldn't find a driver to take us to Kudankulam. So with all my cousins loaded into the car, I drove 80 kilometers to see Pautima. When Pautima saw us all she immediately felt better and sat up. When Mom told her it was me who drove, Pautima kissed my hands and said, "God has blessed my child with so much wisdom".
I often helped my Aunt with the dishes whenever we visited them during holidays. Once there were loads and loads of dishes and I cleaned them all. As I was wrapping up, Pautima kissed me on the forehead and said, "God bless you very much Makkale (child). He sees your humble heart". I took her words to heart (no, not to head) and was so pleased that God sees my heart.
I felt cheated when Pautima passed away. She was 81 but why would I care? I wanted her to stay alive forever. Mom didn't tell the news to me while she requested my friend to travel with me from hostel. When I got home I was inconsolable. I was so angry with Pautima for not telling me good bye. But to tell you the truth, I was just in denial. Over many years Pautima was prepared and had prepared us too. She had her clothes ready, her scarf ready and was all set to go any moment. But I couldn't take it that she really meant it. I had expected she would say 'bye' before leaving. I didn't know death came so suddenly and unexpected and that people don't normally say 'bye'. I was doing my Masters then but didn't know many things like that.
When everything was over and it was time to build Pautima's headstone, Mom was worried as to how and where we could find a similar one like that of Thatha's. Then I told Mom there was one in the back room under the bed that Pautima had shown me once. It was exactly like Thatha's. Turns out Pautima had only entrusted me with that info; no one else in the family knew of that.
If my Pautima and Thatha had had a chance to actually say 'good bye' this would have been the Scripture verse they would have likely shared:
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:7,8I am truly blessed to have had them both as my Grandparents! Many have told me I take after my Pautima. I would like it to be true because my Pautima was a woman of noble character. Her genuine love and wisdom is hard to come by. I wish to be at least a trace of what she was to many. In life eternal as we are reunited with our loved ones in the Lord, I am sure my Pautima's crown will be the most beautiful as she excelled in her race!