I’ve been exploring prompting questions to ask my relatives, and I thought this was a good one. It really doesn’t matter if the answer goes a bit off tangent as the key goal is to prompt memories about a loved one and the past. Our collective history.
Grateful that my uncle A was so open and shared his response with me, as follows:
He was strict, but he did raise his voice so we were all frightened, but he never hit us. He would take a random stick from garden and hit the floor. In contrast my mum was very soft so we tried to give the report card through her. We were most afraid to hand over our report cards. He would go line by line. Questioned why marks were low for each subject. Told us we must do better.
Every night we sat down & sang thevarams (Hindu religious songs). He explained the meaning of each thevaram.
He smoked a pipe. I would polish his shoes and help him buy tobacco (it cost a few cents).
He was firm and strict, but practised no favouritism. He was very close to our eldest sister as she was much older and would confide in her and our mum the most. He was Secretary of the Ceylon Tamils Association and got his eldest daughter to take Minutes. He had great confidence in her. (All her siblings respected and loved our late aunt, my Periamma, tremendously)
Next follows my youngest aunt’s response in text form:
I admired his values of honesty, sincerity and truth. I too hold such high values due to him. Also his devotion to God, and the way he conducts his prayers has been an inspiration.
Lastly my mum’s response to the question:
Father was very pious. Every morning he would light the altar, pray and sing his thevarams (devotional songs). He made us all sit at the veranda and learn the religious songs from him in the evening after dinner. I didn’t know the meaning of the songs.
He had diabetes so every morning he had to do a urine test that seemed like a chemistry experiment. He used a flame to heat the test tube after inserting a pill like thing into it. In those times blood testing kits were not available. I also admired that he was meticulous in keeping records.
He dressed up well in a tie, and white on white. He polished his shoes before going to work. Very shiny shoes and dressing was in accordance with British colonial times.
I’m grateful for all these stories that add colour to my life. In exploring these I am also discerning what is truly important in life. Often it’s not money, but values and ethics. I never met my grandpa, may not be religious, but I live strongly by that too. I know I am to some degree, meticulous as well. My mum has that trait too, the way she keeps records.