Sunday, August 13, 2023

Missing You, Unnimama...


They say that ,"Those we love don't go away, they walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard, but always near, still loved, still missed, and very dear."

To his siblings, he is Unni (baby in Malayalam) being the youngest among the 6, Unniettan to my Ammayi and all those near to him, Praveen or Praveen bhai to all his  friends and and for us, our  Unnimama....
It's been 3 months since we lost Unnimama  and all of us are still struggling in our own ways to handle the loss.  That tells us a lot of his personality. He was always the baby in the family but ironically also the most mature and caring amongst all the siblings. "Unniyodu parayaam" meaning  "We will tell Unni" was the common phrase, he was the one stop solution for everything. He would always have a solution for everything. Sheejammayi's every statement, every action would be incomplete without a minimum of 3-4 Unniettan in it.

For me, he was always more than an Uncle. We were also good friends from my childhood because he was one of  my companions while growing  up in Angadipuram. Some of the other cousins used to be scared of him because he was also strict when it came to certain matters. But to me, he shared his college stories which I used to listen to in awe. He was in his mid 20s during that time. I used to join in with his friends when they teased him about his girl friends while in college. πŸ˜€We used to go to the temple especially on Mangalya Puja days just to look at potential candidates πŸ˜€. Until he got married, we used to curl up on a mattress in my Mom's room while he entertained us non stop with his stories.. His continuous lament was that to get a bedroom in my grandma's house, one had to marry πŸ˜€ and no one was getting him married, because they thought he was Unni πŸ˜€.(baby).
Sheejammayi came into our lives soon to add more colour and happiness. Her life always revolved around Unnimama and they were  always hailed as the ideal couple everywhere. People say there is nothing perfect... But they are the perfect couple... In Fact we say even the Gods would have been jealous of them. I am sure Vichu and Achu wouldn't agree less that they were lucky to have him as their Pappa.

To me , he was always an inevitable part of my good times and struggles too. I always knew I could confide in him anything and he always was a good confidante and guide. 

Unnimama to me was one of the best examples of an Ideal Man. As a brother, son, husband, Uncle, father.. Whatever roles he adorned, he made sure he excelled in it πŸ˜€.I have always admired how he made sure he was always there for everyone in the family. He was a man of his word and would go all out to help anyone whether they deserved it or not. 
He could never say No to anybody, be it for a small matter or a bigger matter πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ and if we made fun of this , all that he would do is Laugh it away in his classic manner. He had a very contagious and innocent laugh that we would quickly join into ....We used to look forward to our weekends in Fujairah just so that we could join in with his fervour. I miss his voice when he wakes us up in his loving way, "  Entha appe eneekande? ( meaning, "Don't  you want to wake up, dear? ") 

Bob Marley said ,"The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively."  And that was exactly Unnimama -  he was a great human being and will always be for all of us ... Not a day passes by without remembering you, your words, your laugh, your kindness.... You will always live in our hearts forever.

“When we lose someone we love we must learn not to live without them, but to live with the love they left behind.”

Monday, January 30, 2023

Thank you, My Friend...

 “Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who walked into your life, said, “I’m here for you”, and proved it.”

    That is what Amrith is for me. He walks into my life 17 years ago and never once did he not live up to that promise. 

    The first time he called me was in reply to a matrimonial advert I had put up for Sapna on some matrimonial site. He was softspoken, polite and also has this extra humbleness about him that would sweep anyone of their feet. He took the details required, horoscope etc and said he would get back. Very diligently after a day or 2, he called back and expressed regret that the horoscopes didn’t match and hence we couldn’t proceed further. He wished her luck and all the best in her search etc. I appreciated his call because many people don’t bother to reply or get back often. And that was the beginning of our calls and a beautiful friendship.

    He would call casually and check whether I reached after office. We would talk about Calicut (which was always his favourite place), people in Calicut, his folks, friends, bike riding time stories etc. I was going through a difficult marriage at that time and he to me was the right example of how a real man should be with a woman. He barged into my small world once for my Bday (Sapna jus hated it 😊) and ever since has always been a part of my birthdays 😊 . A year later, when both of them asked me what my opinion was on whether they should get married, since now all of a sudden the horoscopes matched 😊 , I was the happiest person 😊. I told both the same thing, you are poles apart, but you won’t find a better person than each other for yourselves. I knew he would the best husband or father or friend that anyone could ever wish for and again Sapna I knew her well and was sure that this guy would go all out for her any day. 

    The first time I met him, he came in a ragged jeans and a worn out white T shirt , half shaven and slightly grey haired. I told him Sapna would have a culture shock if she saw you like this since she is always so prim and proper when it comes to dressing. He told me, it will be easier to change Sapna than him 😊 and that’s exactly what he did. He was always comfortable in his worn-out T shirts and jeans. Any T-shirt which you gave him as a gift would be worn out till Sapna whisked it away to be used as ragged cloth😊

    I always like people who write well and its very rare I come across men who wrote so well – both literally over emails etc and on paper. He used to write in that neat Caps letters always. I always told him his Ooty school teachers would be proud of his English 😊 His English used to range from Victorian to Oxford styles.

    Talking about language skills, his Malayalam is just terrible , it will bring tears to any one’s eyes who love the language. Colloquially, he has the typical Calicut accent which kind of runs across in their family back home. His language is the most unpolished and brash when it came to Malayalam. I have never heard someone so lovingly use Malayalam swear words that the person listening would even take it as a compliment. I always used to say it’s the Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde when it came to him using the English & Malayalam 😊 I once did the mistake of installing the Manglish font on his mobile and all our friends never forgave me for the act. Such atrocious Malayalam he would write on Whatsapp msgs to us. MT would commit suicide if he saw Amrith’s attempt on Valluvanad Malayalam typing. Even now, while Im typing and if I posted this , I can hear him saying ,”Thaangal katha ezhuthukayaano? Ningal Madhavikutty kalikkaano ?”( Are you writing a story? Are you trying to be Madhavikutty?) 

    Have never seen someone who loves to drive so much, be it morn, afternoon or night, you call him for a drive, there he would be below your building in his car, ready to take off. There are times he has taken us to Jebel Jais on a hot summer afternoon, or the desert campfires at night  or the long drives to Hatta / UAQ  and not to forget his favourite place , the beach. The man is all about the sand and the water always. 

    His love for Calicut is incredible. I called him the address book of Calicut. He literally knew everyone we would talk about. He knew all my friends from college through either their brothers or dads or family. He would have a story for everyone. Anyone we mentioned, he would say, aren’t they from XYZ family, they used to live there… they had a brother ABC etc etc. and the story continues… Once when a Calicut friend of mine came visiting and I mentioned his name, she said everyone in Kuttichira knows Ampu 😊 Sapna and me always used to pull his leg saying this. 

    Though jokingly, I always used to say that I am the freebie that came along with his dowry 😊, and he never liked it. I was like that pattikutty ( puppy) in Boban & Molly comics, was there in every frame of the story. He made sure of that always. There was never any questions asked , he  and Sapna would just come below my building and say, “come, let’s go, we are not going without you”. Many a time I used to tell Sapna, if it weren’t for him and how he made sure that I was part of the family always, I may have never stuck on in Dubai for this long. 

    His favourite pastime otherwise was bugging me, irritating me and picking up fights with me 😊 He had this amazing tendency to refute and disagree with anything I said😊 He was extremely possessive about his friendship and didn’t like it much if I gave more time to any other friends… So, he would make sure that he keeps you occupied across the day with his calls and messages so that you wouldn’t find the need to contact anyone else or have the time too😊. He would dig out old stories from Amma about me and use that to irritate me. Just like he had names for everyone , he had names for me too. He would address me as Ms. Menon because he knew I hated the tail. Teddy Bunn & Bunny Boon always seemed to be from some cartoon for me …. However anyone in round shape is always a Bunny for him. Everyone was Molev ( little gal) and Mone ( little boy) for him. 

    He calls me minimum 5-6 times a day, checking if I reached office, whether I had lunch, whether I fought with my boss, whether I reached home etc. Though secretly I always used to enjoy the affection he showered on me, many a time I would brush it away just to irritate him. He was always a Mr. Know All and a Mr. I am Always right ; though I refused to admit it , it was quite true as well. There are so many times he would warn me against people and I paid a deaf ear, but in the end he would always be right 😊 He would be bugged if we ignore calls or msgs and sometimes I used to do it just to irritate him 😊 There are times when he has told me , “Nhan illaande aavumbol nee padikkum “ ( meaning you will learn when I am not there). And that exactly what I am going through for the last 14 days. 

    Everyday morning on my way to work, the last 3 days ,  I pick up my phone to dial him, since that’s a routine for the last 16 years wherever we are . I look out for a message asking did you eat , did you reach back, and if its late night, Don’t forget to message once you are back. And yes I surely miss that and I think I will for the rest of my life. He loved the rains and to splash water driving through it and today it was raining here while I was driving to work and I picked my phone again to call him and show him the rains… I miss his voice when he answers the phone , “Aaa Maa, para..” (meaning Yes dear, tell me ..) But then, I can always hear and feel him around us , more like signs that he is always around us , taunting us, guiding us  and of course always warning us to be careful .  But Yes, I miss you …more than I can convey in words…

    His friendships were always special – Ajay, Madan, Sanjay, Sameer, Sandeep and many more names I can think off…. So many old funny stories we got to hear every time he speaks about them with his eyes twinkling. For the others he was the Big Bro, always there around.  They say friends are the family we choose. Being chosen by him was one of my biggest privileges. Certain relationships cannot be defined in words or by blood relationships. He played so many roles in my life across the different years but every role had the same foundation of love, care and kindness. The Doctor told us He has a big heart (literally) and we told him “Absolutely, no doubts on that. We have always known that ! "

    As Sapna says, he is always around us taking care of us . That’s why even today, many a time I cannot even write about him in past tense. He will always be in our present. My friend lived a wonderfully joyful life, lighting up everyone around him, so rather than lament his absence, we will celebrate his life . As they say “Warmth is found through fond memories, so curl up with them whenever you need to."

    Thank you my friend for being there for me always & Thank you for being a wonderful part of our lives….. We miss you a lot, but I believe you are in a better place now 😊 I am sure you would be cracking jokes with new friends there… 

“Saying farewell isn’t something we do. Instead, I’ll remark that I’m looking forward to seeing my friend again every time I hear a phrase, hear a joke, or see an article of clothing that reminds me of them. These are the things that will bind us together even after we die.” - Anonymous