DKP would tell that when she sings a new song, the precise kAla pramAnam of that song could be understood and learnt from Mani Iyer’s Mridangam itself. Such was the beauty of my father’s playing. DKP would heartily praise him saying, “like Karnan was born with the kavacha kundalam, he must have born with his Mridangam!

“He would play even the most complex and intricate kOrvai so effortlessly making it look as simple as lifting a small child. His kOrvais were so smooth like the Halwa and yet very firm! The uniqueness of his playing would be stupefying when I stop and wonder how I was able to put the thAlam so easily for that complex korvai”, DKP would tell often.

She would also tell, “Generally if he is playing, I have no fear ma. Like singing along with me, he’d accompany me on the Mridangam”.

“Even when I sing a new kriti, he would grasp the song so precisely and it would be so good when he plays like he has known that song for a very long time. There is no one else who enjoys playing the Mridangam like him or whose Mridangam playing is as tranquilizing as his. If there is another person like him, he is yet to be born; such a wondrous person ma!” DKP would tell.

Generally DKP never took hot water in a flask to concerts. She would drink whatever water was available wherever she went. Later it was Mani Iyer who persuasively told DKP to strictly bring water from home only in order for the voice to not get damaged, DKP would tell.

Once amma was running temperature of 102 degrees during concert. She gave the concert with that fever only and still the concert was so grand and very fantastic! After the mangalam was sung and the concert concluded, amma could not get up. Mani Iyer who always flies right after the concert without ever waiting for anyone, stayed back that day seeing amma and enquired with concern, “are you not well? Looks like you are suffering”. On hearing a, “yes I feel dizzy” from amma, he stayed by amma’s side until she got better and saw her safely off the venue. Amma would tell, “Nobody else even on the stage knew. I could never forget how only he noticed me and helped me understanding that I was sick”.

Appa liked coffee very much. If coffee was there, he didn’t want even food! “He would ask that coffee be brought during train journeys. If it was not steaming hot, he’d ask the guy to come back with hot coffee. No matter how many ever times the hawker is asked for hot coffee after all he could only give the same coffee that he already has. “kApi sUdAga illai endrAl, enna konjam kUda gnyAnamae illai!” (I am saying the coffee is not hot! Why is this guy so dumb!), an angry Mani Iyer would scold in music language, DKP would often recall.

Lalitha Sivakumar