En PArvaiyil kalaivAniyin kudumbam

My attempting to write about Smt D K Pattammal, DKP as she is fondly called by everyone is akin to searching in the sea a coin lost in it. Yet who ever won over the temptation?! With the confidence that I have been related to that family for a very long time now, I have dared to write. I wish to share with you many things that I have seen about her in person.

DKP was like a big banyan tree and I was fortunate to get the opportunity of staying and resting in its shadow. Whenever I go, she would welcome with a broad smiling face. DKP’s house and her son Shivakumar’s house would be adjacent with a common compound wall for both houses. Whatever got prepared at Shivakumar’s house, it would go to DKP’s house. If I was there, I would only take it to DKP’s house.

In the evenings, especially if it had rained, daughter in law Lalitha would make Bhjji or Bonda or Vada at Shivakumar’s house. It will be delicious to eat them with the chutney. When I go to give them to DKP, she would tell, “just now I thought that it would be nice to have bhajji and how did she know!” and would take them so happily and relish them.

One wonders how daughter in law Lalitha knew what ran in the mind of DKP in the next house! It would appear wondrous! Whatever Lalitha did, she would tell, “Amma likes it very much” as she does it. These are not possible merely because she has seen DKP and has known her since the day she got married. There must have been a strong bond of affection between them beyond that of the mother in law-daughter in law relationship. There was affection between them beyond that of even a mother and daughter. It would indeed be astonishing!

When festivals came, even at 75, she would make so many arrangements for the day. With her own hands she would dress up and beautify Amman (Goddess). I was at Shivakumar’s house twice during the Varalakshmi Vratham. I have been spellbound seeing DKP’s festival arrangements in person! She would gather her sons, daughter in laws and grand daughters and would conduct the festival like a grand celebration. Even her beautifying Amman with flowers would be artistic. During the archana, her Sanskrit pronunciation will have pristine clarity. As much as possible she was austere in doing everything herself. The same dedication that she would show during singing kirthanas would be there when she does pooja also. Her ever bright and smiling face would welcome us all the time.

After 9:30 am, classes will happen for the students that will run till 1 pm. She would then eat and rest for a while and by 3:30 pm she would be ready in her chair again with no weariness. She was ever cheerful. When she taught lessons in classes, I have sat beside her on many days and have listened. One always lost track of time. The songs that I have learnt by merely listening to her teaching the class are many. She would teach the important life giving phrases of a raga (jeeva pidigal) very strongly. Merely registering them in the mind would be enough to be able to sing the entire song. When students sang wrongly, DKP would patiently teach until the students got that sangati right.

When DKP learnt a new song in her later years, in order for her to be able to remember the song, she needed the song to be written down and given to her. Even when Gayathri offered to write it and give, she would politely tell, “no ma; let Lalitha herself write. I got used to her handwriting”. When I go and tell this to Lalitha, she would immediately sit down to write the song to give to DKP. Whenever DKP asked anything, Lalitha would leave behind whatever work she may be doing and would get completely immersed in DKP’s work. It would be astounding to see this. Wherever DKP had to go, she wanted Lalitha to go along. If anyone took to holding DKP’s hand and walking her, DKP’s eyes will automatically look around searching for Lalitha. “Where is Lalitha?” she would ask at once. Like the sahasranAma archanA, DKP’s mouth uttered Lalitha’s name all the time. Lalitha’s behavior with DKP calling her, “amma amma” all the time also showed that they were bonded by a friendship that was beyond their relationship. It is astonishing how many times their relationship was like that of an adiyAr with Andavan, (adiyAr – a subject of God whose ultimate goal was to do service to God. Andavan - God)

My daughter’s wedding happened at the top floor of a choultry at Raja Annamalai Puram. As DKP could not climb stairs, she was unable to attend the wedding. After the wedding even before eating, the wedded couple came to see her to seek her blessings. One can write for 4 and a half pages just the beauty of DKP giving her blessings! She would correctly assess what one needed and would bless the person to get that wholly. She would see no difference/partiality while giving her blessings. She will give immense blessings with all her heart.

Owing to her age, there came a time when she could not attend concerts during the evenings. Even then, she would tell, “Lalitha, are you going? What saree are you going to wear? Wear it and come and show to me before you go”. Lalitha would wear her saree and would go and show herself to DKP. DKP would tell, “very nice ma; wear necklace” and send her off only after adoring her beauty. DKP was such an affectionate and loving person. She has not been without Lalitha even a single day.

It would be astonishing to see DKP, a good human being and a great artisan; a recipient of many great awards like the ‘Padma Vibhushan’, ‘Isai PErarignyar’ and ‘Sangeetha kalAnidhi’ and yet so humble. One can keep talking forever about her characteristics like the discipline, greatness, self confidence and the list can go on.

She would proclaim and feel happy about the good characteristics in people regardless of their age difference with her. Whoever requests her to sing, she will sing and show at once. He or she may be a learned musician; or a domestic worker; or a person who weaves baskets with coconut fronds. Whoever he is who requests her to sing she would sing with sangatIs like she would sing in Music Academy.

When someone was sick her prayers were very special. In her last years when she was unable to walk, she sat in a wheel chair. When she goes to her bed room at nights in her wheel chair, even from the wheel chair she would offer her prayers to all the Gods that adored the walls and tables on the way to her bed room. Beginning with those who visited her house that day she would pray for the welfare and peace of the world. This showed her patriotism.

DKP was such a complete personality who lacked nothing. Merely looking her made one’s mind happy. That we lived in the same times as this illustrious and great lady itself is enough happiness for us. After all what bigger boom can there be!

kavignar G S Karpagam