Stories About Women
Editor's note: This story is reproduced, with permission, from Mr. Nagarajan's not-for-sale book of his memories, A Pearl of Water on a Lotus Leaf & Other Memories, 2010.
I decided to marry at 25, two years after I got a job in Delhi as an official photographer in the Information Ministry. I wrote to my parents in Mysore asking them to look for a suitable girl for me, preferably from Tamilnadu.
I loved to nestle against my Patti, which means grandmother in Tamil. She smelled of all my favourite smells – Mysore Sandal soap, shikakai, and soft, sun-dried Pochampalli saris. And when she smiled, which was often, I felt as though all was indeed well with the world. My world, at least.
Editor’s note: This story has two parts. Renu Khanna’s story is followed by her daughter Malati Shah’s memories of Mrs. Khanna’s nani.
Dadi - Kumodini Das (1858?-1949)
On Dadiji’s eightieth birthday my parents celebrated by lighting up the house with about two hundred diyas (oil lamps in earthen containers), and having a party at which delicious food and sweets and clothes were given to our domestic servants and their children.
My Dadi lived with us for the last years of her life when my parents and I returned from two years in England and were reunited with my three elder siblings. She was, in fact, my father’s bhua (father’s sister) who had adopted him when his own mother died shortly after his birth in 1904, and was known by us as Beji.
She was called ‘ma’ at home by all her five daughters, never called by her first name by her husband, and always referred to in third person singular by her three sons-in-laws. She was born in Khulna District, Bangladesh, and her in-laws were rooted in Dhaka.