Going down memory lane brings flashbacks of my childhood days growing up in Valavanur. Whenever Periappa visited us on short trips, I used to be so excited at the prospect of meeting and spending time with him of course not to mention enjoying all the goodies he brought along. He had this demeanor that made us wonder what he was going to say but at the same time it also instilled a little bit of fear. How much reverence did we have for him? Periappa would go hello Vijayalakshmi Pandit to Vijaya athai – “where is my ‘kadala urundai’ (peanut balls)”?; and there was his special made- to- order item that arrived shortly thereafter. We enjoyed his company so much that we would be looking forward to his next visit though we had to wait for many months before it came to fruition.
I took up a job in the Netherlands in 2000 and had the opportunity to visit Periappa and Periamma in the UK. We went to many interesting places and I was fortunate also to go with him on a trip to Greece. I would never forget our experience walking around the Acropolis trying to figure out the best spot to see the Parthenon all lit up. We walked for about 2 miles only to come back to the same spot where we started. Even after that Periappa was still so enthusiastic to carry on with a determination to find the best location. It was this determination that took him places. I was always amazed at the level of energy he had especially even after all the long walks we took during our visit to Greece.
Periappa was the lifeline of any party or family get together be it weddings, birthdays or other celebrations. He was not only fun but also cool to hang out with. His affable nature meant he could quickly carry on an interesting conversation regardless of age – with a 3- year- old child or with a 90- year- old adult all with the same level of enthusiasm and excitement.
Our daughter Nikhita fondly remembers Periappa by the name as “Kuppusamy” he gave her during our Chicago visit in 2011 for being silly and funny. Nikhita often recollects her memories of her last visit with Periappa in Chicago during May 2014 for his 70th birthday. During the visit, despite his tiredness and discomfort he made it a point to accompany her for the promised Baskin Robbins ice-cream. For Nikhita, that is the best ice-cream she has ever had. As Nikhita didn’t have the good fortune of seeing my father, her maternal grandfather, Periappa filled that role for her. She misses him so much especially after the fun time they had last year in Chicago though it was very brief. In fact, when she was told the news about Periappa’s demise, her response was that he was a star watching all of us from above. Every now and then when she sees a starry night, she looks up at the skies to note that Periappa and Vatsan thatha are watching over us.
We welcomed our son Nandith with mixed emotions as he was born 10 days after Periappa’s demise. One of Nandith’s other names is Sunderra Narasimhan named after Periappa (Sunder). We believe that he is living with us through Nandith. Every time I see a smile on Nandith’s face it brings back memories of Periappa for me.
I can write more and more snippets like this but one thing that stood out for me and a big take away was how he enjoyed life every day. The simplest pleasures that he relished each passing day, be it sipping a cup of hot coffee or reading his newspaper, listening to old Hindi songs and music, or fresh flowers, or having a scoop of ice cream for dessert. . . He was truly an inspiration for me right from my childhood days and was always a big source of moral support. He was always there for us, only a phone call away.
I used to enjoy fixing things for him be it his computer, camera, internet or tv. It was fun to see him learn like a child only to ask the next day how things worked again.
Miss you periappa and love you!
With fond memories,
[Devi (Sridevi) is our niece, Sunder’s late brother Vatsan’s daughter. Sunder was very proud of her ambition and her many achievements. In recent years he enjoyed the company of Devi and Natraj’s little daughter Nikhita immensely, and they never failed to drive down to Chicago from Minnesota to visit him every time we were there.].