A letter I wrote to my grandparents to be published in the family magazine during my grandfather's 80th birthday celebration this year. I wanted to put it up here for keepsake. It is one of those things that came right from the heart with no time to re-read, edit or update, but it doesn't need any of those anyways. Counting the days till i can meet you both again aiyaa and aayaa, and the rest of the family too.
Anbulla aiyaavukkum aayaavukkum,
I’ve always remembered all your letters addressed to mummy started this way. At that young age, I didn’t understand what ‘anbulla’ meant. But today, I understand how deep it is. Therefore, I want to greet you with ‘anbulla’ instead of a shallow ‘dear aiyaa and aayaa’.
As we celebrate your 80th birthday this year, we celebrate your fulfilling life, your zeal for life and achievements. While at school, children are always encouraged to be inspired by historical characters. We, the Palaniappan Chettiar clan, need not look into any history books to read up about other people’s accomplishments and draw motivation from it. We just have to look at you. I am truly awed with respect for you with all your achievements aiyaa. Regardless of any hinderances, you are such a strong-minded person and so focused in your goals.
We might not have spent a lot of time together chatting or catching up with each other aiyaa, but you are a grandfather that every granddaughter would love to have. As strict as you are, you’ve always had a soft corner for me. I remember the numerous times when I was unanimously nominated by the whole family to get permission from you, be it to go out to the theatres, or shopping, because I was favoured by you. I remember the countless times when I went ‘shopping’ in Kumaran Stores during lunch time and walked away with everything I wanted, because it was my grandfather’s shop and all I needed to do was take it and it was mine. I remember growing up watching pattimandram with you on Sunday mornings during our annual visits. Thanks to you, I’m still very much interested in those things. I remember seeing you taking each and everyone of your children’s family upon your own shoulders and making sure everything was settled for them.
Aayaa, you are a perfect example of an obedient and submissive wife, caring mother and protective grandmother. Ever so giving and selfless. I’ve never heard you say no to me, I’ve never seen you not cook for me even when you weren’t at the best of health, I’ve never seen you tired to meet the needs of your family. I remember the times when you saved firecrackers, toys and accessories for me even after Diwali. You always made sure you fed me with everything that was on my ‘To-eat’ list during every holiday. No one else can make that perfect maavu thaengulal, athirasam and puliyotharai like you do aayaa. No one else will make sure our luggage was filled with sufficient ribbon pakoda, sathumaavu and paal alvaa. No one else knew how to make Milo in India like you did. I seem to associate you with food in every way, but believe me when I say I love you more than I love all the food you made for me. You stand as a testimony to the English proverb that says, there’s a woman behind every man’s success. You are the woman behind the whole family’s success. You’ve always stood by our side at all times. You are always my favourite grandmother.
Even during times when both of you were not pleased with our choices in life, you were more concerned for us rather than the thought that we were disobedient to you. As the first grandchild of the family, I’m glad I got to enjoy both of you all for myself for a few years before the others came into the picture. But even after that, I’m over joyed to know that I’ve always been special to you.
As I recall how content life was those days being with both of you in aiyaa’s house in PDKT and aayaa’s house in Vallaiyapatti (as I fondly use to remember), my eyes is filled with tears and words fail me, but my heart is filled with joy that I’ve been blessed to have experienced these things with both of you. I’m thankful to God for all these memorable thoughts that has been a foundation to my childhood.
As personal as this letter may be, your love for us has always been very public. The love, affection and concern that you’ve showed to me and mummy is beyond us. My heart is filled with pride when I say that I am the granddaughter of Palaniappan Chettiar and Unnamalai achi.
Just the words thank you doesn’t justify the amount of sacrifices you both have done for us. I want to let you know that from the very bottom of my heart, I wish for both of you nothing less than love and joy. I pray that you both will be blessed with good health, prosperity, and most importantly, peace. I pray that you will receive peace from God, the kind of peace that surpasses all worldly understanding.
Ungal paethi Chumi