'How should I invite you to make you visit me?' This song by Ambujam Krishna in Kanada ragam is one of the songs which Amma liked very much. Whenever amma met anyone with knowledge in Karnatic music, she would request them to sing this song, if they knew it.
Amma's interest in arts was not confined to music alone but she was also a rasika of dance, Harikatha, good paintings (she used to enjoy Tanjore paintings, Ravivarma’s works) and other handicrafts. I had gone with her to many harikatha and music concerts, in my younger days.She was a versatile person interested in many fields - arts games, books etc.
But what amazed me was her memory power even towards her end. I particularly remember an incident, when I got into a bet over the title of the book in which the writer Vaasanthi had described the beauty of Mount Kanchanchunga. To prove her point, amma got both the books from the library and I had to concede defeat. I paid her the bet money of Rs.5/=. She was also an expert in the card game 'American declare' which required all the cards to be used up by all the players and required a good memory. When she stayed in Tambaram with me, I had applied leave for the week she was with me and we played among others, this game. Always, it was she who won this game. It was she who taught me chess.
I do not know whether other people knew that Amma had purchased the book “Learn English in 30 days”. When I returned from Bombay, I was surprised to find this book along with my books. When I asked her about the book, she said that her grandsons were all going abroad and Aarthi was always speaking in English only, so she had to learn to speak the language. That was Amma, always wanting to participate – equipping herself so that she was not left out. It was this nature that prompted her to ask, “enna pesaranga” when we all got into groups to talk among ourselves. And it was this nature that made her participate in mail game even when had a back pain.
She was a nature lover. Gardening was her favorite hobby- even in a flat she used to plants and trees (the trees when they had taken root in a pot were then handed over to her children having a garden) – she had grown lemon, jackfruit, etc. and many flowery plants. She used to say that she had the “kai rasi” for growing the trees and that all the plants which she planted would grow. Not only plants, everytime I buy a handbag/purse, she would insist that she would drop the first coin/ rupee in the purse so that the purse would never be drained of money. And it was always true and I firmly believe that she had the “kai rasi”.
That amma was a voracious reader is well-known in the family. She was fond of all magazines and books and liked the works of many authors. But the one book that she treasured was the collected works of Subhramania Bharathi. When her copy was lost, she requested anna to get her another copy as she was keen on possessing Bharathiar's works. She was happy that all her children and grandchildren have acquired the reading habit.
Among her children, I was fortunate to have lived the maximum number of years with her and she had taken care of me when she was in good health. When it was time for me to reciprocate, I was away in Ussoor and in Tambaram and coulddn’t invite her to stay with me. But when Pushpa akka’s tenant vacated this house I decided that it was an ideal place for amma to stay with me as Pushpa akka would be available during the daytime to take care of her. Amma also agreed to come but then, even before I could settle down in this house, she has gone. I am here alone wondering ''.