When I recall my childhood days, memories of my then friend Lathu are at front and center. When I recall Lathu, her lovely family is certainly at front and center. When I think of her lovely family, her parents are firmly at front and center. I have very fond memories of both her father and her mother in different ways.
Her mom was a very talented musician. She excelled in vocal music and also played instruments. I recall her strumming the veena and also Prasad’s ‘bulbulthara’. Now, I neither sang nor played any instruments but still managed to have some special moments with her,…….you see she also excelled in algebra and for the better part of my teenage years she was my go-to-guru!!. For a petite, soft spoken woman she packed in a lot of talent, energy, activities and above all love!!
Her father on the other hand was more ‘grande’, more strict, more loud and more passionate! When I think of him, football, RSS, bike, betelnut and his love for his family all come front and center in my mind!! He always seemed to be chewing on betelnut, at least whenever I saw him, would ride around in a big, noisy bike, would talk very emotionally about RSS-BJP, their physical-exercise regimen and about football.
I recall him, recounting very proudly his days as a ‘goalie’ . His whole face would light up and on and on he would go about penalties, goalposts, kicks and head-kicks, until he was interrupted by a telephone call or a visitor/neghbour. And at that sudden reprieve I would run away, because it was very difficult to get a word across or to be excused once he got going.
But through all the outward bluster and blister, came through a man who loved his wife so much and was very anxious over her fragile health, a man who loved his five children so much, but didn’t quite seem to know how to convey it to them then. A man full of vitality and passion for sports that at times it seemed to me that he would rather some of his children excel in sports than in academics. A man who inspite of his own large family, loved, cared and respected his mother, who also lived with them. A man who seemed to try to be tolerant of his otherwise bumbling brother, a man who was well respected in our then neighbourhood.
In full disclosure, the last time I saw him was probably in 1981 or 82, but I have indelible memories of this large, betelnut chewing, smiling, tall, strict, bike-riding, loving,talented goalie and energetic, caring man and a good neighbour!!
You are now with your loving wife, so ‘Rest in Peace’ Mr. Iyer!!!
To Lathu, Ramesh, Venkatesh, Prasad and Lallikka