There would have been a time in most of the Tambrahm kondhai’s lives that we had a paatu mami. ( Yes, learning music or any instruments is mandatory as per the Code of Conduct of Tambrahminism )
This post is my tribute to my paatu mami, who, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated vocalists I have known.
I remeber throwing tantrums from a very young age, to not go for classes. When we had lived in Kerala, there was a bhagavathar who used to come home to teach me music when I was all of four or five years of age. I never liked him. ( Okay, I was a kiddo who, like many others, could be attracted only with colorful candies and toys, and vintage didn’t appeal to me then). I used to say some rubbish reason to escape from the torturous time of singing. Oh! We still have that iconic harmonium in our house,by the way.
So yes, when we shifted to Madurai, I was happy. Happy that I have to go through no more of those music lessons and yaay! What more could I ask for? That was when my neighbors changed and Lo! Guess who moved in?? A new Paatu mami. I swear I had no idea even in the wildest of my dreams. I was caught again, in the never ending cycles of swarams and saadhakams.
My dad, being the over-enthusiastic appa, was only too happy to send me and bask in the glory of having a pon kondhai who knew to sing properly. Days went by and I progressed with some good credits to my name and two new friends ( Paatu mami’s sons).
Mami was very liberal when it came to classes. With the perfect mix of tradition, she infused the classes with a lot of cool factor, like taking turns to sing one part each in the Varnam charanam portion, playing us the cassettes of legends and asking us to identify the raagam, slotting classes early in the morning, especially during Maargazhi so that we could sing Thiruppaavai etc. She had us all try our hands at Kalpana swarams from such young age itself and also the niravals and alapanais. We, the shishyas, used to sit in a semi-circle around her and used to gape at her expertise in doling out the swarams. We also used to squabble for a particular spot to sit. ( Such fight to be the Sheldon Cooper of Paatu Class) She also had both her sons take out their mridangam and violin to practice along with us. It was kind of Katcheri, every day.
Not one word she chided us when we took the liberty to play cricket inside the house during the “Before class” and “After class” grace time. Moreover, she kept a check on me if I was doing saadhakam every day ( Being the neighbor helps, you know). I still remember my excitement when my periappa gifted me a Radel Shruti Box and I ran taking it to mami to tune it. I still have the Shruti Box.
Years went by and studies happened and relocation happened. Now all I want is to go back to those days where one could drown in such divinity without any other thought to steal our own time and focus.
Though online tutoring works well these days, nothing beats that traditional form of music classes. 🙂
Oh My! Such strong memories and I so miss her and those days now. 😦 I was truly blessed to have such a person in my picture of Music and I am loving it to bits.