So the reason I said I knew what was coming up in this chapter was because I knew there was going to be an article of mine coming out in the newspaper soon. It was a piece I wrote on Tamil poetry for The Times of India, Chennai. I mention this because a lot of my interest in writing developed because of dadi.
Dadi was an English teacher and she would sit for hours teaching me poems, grammar and narrating granny tales when I was in school. Before exams, she would sit with me and listen as I read out lessons loudly and interjected only if she wanted to add a point. Even at 90, she knew what gerunds and clauses were better than anyone else. I owe a lot of my knowledge in the language to her. She loved reading my English answer papers to see if the teaching sessions paid off. But my humble sweetheart that she was, she never took credit for it, simply praised me for being talented.
She was so fond of my writing that when I became a journalist she was always in awe of my work and the research that went into it. Her eyesight was dwindling, so I’d often read my articles out loud for her to hear. At the end of it, she’d ask me where I had got the idea, how I found my sources and how I managed to piece it together. In her eyes, her baby granddaughter had become a big girl, doing ‘difficult things in a professional way’.
The days my articles were in the newspaper, she would quickly run to ensure that it was not mixed up with other papers. Whether everyone had a chance to read the piece or not, I could rest assured rely on Dadi to keep a copy with her in a white cover near her bedside that nobody except me was allowed to touch. She was very particular that my articles had to be kept in an organised manner.
From the time the first article appeared, she would tell me, ‘Kanna, each article has to be cut neatly and kept in a file. Don’t lose it. It’s your hardwork.’ The day I started filing my stuff, she was thrilled. Occasionally, she would lament how she wished she could herself cut and file it for me but her eyes weren’t cooperating.
It didn’t matter if she couldn’t do it. She had already done so much for me. What mattered was her love, her attachment to me. Her bond was so strong that everything just epitomised her care. Every instance she got, she showed it. And dadi taught me everything by example. She taught me that, in life, family is most important and you should never wait too long to show the ones you love that you care. Show them how much you mean to them, hug them tight and always make them smile. But most importantly, keep them close and never leave them for they’ll always be the ones who will stand by you, come rain or shine.