My Grand mother was from a remote village called Vadamathimangalam in Tamil Nadu. She was born there in 1930 (Approx) and was brought up in a very poor family. She was the eldest of all her 7 siblings in an orthodox Tamil Brahmin Family. Her brother (I call him Kanchi Tata) used to be a Preist in Ekambareswar temple of Kanchipuram. It was with his income that the entire family used to live, back in Vadamathimangalam. In 1950 (Approx), In almost like a cinematic twist, my grand father (who is from a Not-so-orthodox-Brahmin telugu Family) happened to see her in Kanchipuram and wanted to marry her. This was the love story of 1950s. My Grandma’s family didn’t make it easy for him to marry her, especially because of his appearance (ugly beard, ungroomed mustache and noholy mark on the face). In order for him to marry her, my grand pa had to groom himself and recite the vedic mantras of their choice (oh yeah, my grand pa also studied those vedit mantras) to prove that he is also a Brahmin. And yeah, he had to live in the Kanchipuram temple for almost more than 2 weeks in order to please her family.
And finally, he did it !!! They got happily married with the blessings of their elders and my Grandma came to our home (my current home town Tenali). At the time, My grand ma didn’t know to speak Telugu and my grand pa didn’t know to speak Tamil. Over the time, grand ma learnt a fluent Telugu and they lived happily ever after. She never got a chance to get in touch with her family in Tamil Nadu and neither did they ever visited us in Andhra. “Cost of travel” and language were the major barriers of those days because of which these families were not in touch for years (actually, for Decades). However, The love and affection prevailed. Of all these years, the only person that we (even my dad) know from that village is Kanchi Tata, who happened to come to my home town once or twice. Although, we don’t know much about that family, we talk about them a lot. My dad always used to tell me about that family, which he knew from his Mom. He never visited them himself.
Years passed by; My good Grand Ma and Grand Pa passed away. We somehow got in touch with Kanchi Tata, who is now 86, from Vadamathimangalam. I’ve got the phone number of his care taker Srinivasan Anna, who is a neighbor to kanchi tata. He has been taking care of kanchi tata like his own father. He was also the main reason for us to get back in touch with this family. By 2008, Me and my sister knew to speak in Tamil and so, we got back in touch with Kanchi Tata and were able to talk to him once in a while (like once in six months). We were acting as a the translators between the two sides of the family. But, the language barrier still prevailed.
Fast forward to 11th October 2014. I was in a pilgrimage trip to few temples near to Chennai with my family. We were 8 of us. On the eve of Saturday the 11th, we visited Vellore Golden temple and were on our way to Tiruvannamalai. The Tempo driver had been very friendly with all of us and knows a little bit of Telugu. With all the conversations we’ve had with him, he already became a good friend. We were almost halfway through to our destination for the night. When it was 9:30 PM, the driver requested our permission to take a deviation of 4-5 KMs, in order to collect a rice bag from his relatives place. Apparently, the rice in that area is a lot cheaper than in Chennai. We readily accepted his request as we didn’t have any other plans for the day. So, we deviated from our original route and did a quick stop for the rice bag and continued towards the main route.
Around 9:45 PM, out of the blue, my mom remembered our grand ma and started talking about her. The driver overheard our conversation and asked me the name of her village. Once we told him the name, he jumped out of his seat in excitement and told us that it is on our way to main road and only 2 KM’s from where we were. We had no words to say at that moment. We were staring each others faces in surprise. When I finally came to my senses, I took out my phone and made a quick call to Srinivasan Anna to explain him that we were near by.
Anna was real surprised too with the coincidence and readily invited us home in Tamil “ungalukaaga naanga aavala edhir paarthutu irukom”. He told me that he will inform Kanchi tata that we are coming.
And what happened after that, will remain as a greatest memory of all of our lives.
When our vehicle stopped in front of an old hut house, I’ve seen 10 people waiting for us. Srinivasan anna took my hand, gave a tight hug and welcomed all of us inside the house. As we entered the house, I see Kanchi tata standing at a distance in tears of Joy. We took his blessings and settled down in that small house. Kanchi tata started asking whereabouts of each and every one of our family members (he remembers every one by name). Few of them asked “Are you the one who got married recently? Where is your wife?”. I don’t even know who they are yet. Well, my dad himself doesn’t know who they are. “Your grand pa tried his best to make it to your wedding but couldn’t, because of his health. He has been feeling very sad since then”. Kanchi tata showed us the old photos of my grand pa and grand ma, that my dad have never seen. Hugs, tears and a lot of talks followed for the next 40 minutes.
We finally said Adieu to them and just when I was about to get in to the vehicle, kanchi tata woke up from his chair, held both of my hands and told me with his slow voice in Tamil “This day is one of the most memorable days of my entire life. I will not forget this”. I told the him the same, took his blessings. This time, I made sure to exchange our contact numbers, address and invited him to visit my place in Chennai for sure.
As we resumed our journey towards Tiruvannamalai, a chain of thoughts breezed through my mind.
1) This was the place, where my Grand ma was born.
2) This was the house where she lived (the house didn’t change much from then, says grand pa).
3) My dad had two more sisters (cousins) that he never have met.
4) My dad and Mom were visiting this place for the first time ever.
5) Language didn’t matter for us to convey our feelings and relation towards them (and vice versa).
Never in the wildest dreams that we planned to visit this place as part of our Journey. Neither did we know that this place is on our way. But, then this happened. How & Why?
My Mom says, this is a divine grace. My dad says it is destiny.
I don’t know what it is, but it just made my entire family Super happy.