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That red shawl

HT Café invites readers to share some of their experiences. Rajesh Subramanian on the gift that didn't make it in time.

sex and relationships Updated: Apr 07, 2009 19:27 IST
Hindustan Times

For the outside world, she was just an ordinary domestic maid who did the routine chores in our ancestral abode. But for us, she was the indeed the world.

Tirur Amma, as she was affectionately addressed, was an incredible woman. Her world revolved around the household duties and she did that with unflinching passion.

For a seventy year old she was incredibly agile. At noon she kept herself occupied preparing items like pickles, papadams, jams, sweets like mysore paks, chakka varati, badam halwa and payasam. She would flip through south Indian magazines like Kumudam or Vikattan. Sometimes, on a Sunday evening she would watch a movie with us. One evening they were airing Daag on Doordarshan. The moment she saw Sharmila Tagore wrapped in a red shawl she instantly remarked, "What a lovely shawl." That was the only time I saw her getting excited. She never gossiped with the neighbours or bad mouthed anyone.

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One day I was leaving for Kashmir for a ten-day trip with friends when she came to my room with a glass of filter coffee. She sat on the wooden bench and whispered in her soft voice, "Son, will you get me a Kashmiri shawl?" I was a bit surprised to hear that. I nodded my head and a smile spread across her frail face. "Like the one that Sharmila Tagore wore in Daag," I chided at which she chuckled uncontrollably. On the last day of our trip I got a red Kashmiri shawl.

I decided to give her a surprise by quietly placing the shawl on her bed. When I reached home there was deafening silence. All welcomed me with a dejected look. Then my uncle placed his hand on my shoulder and announced that Tirur Amma had passed away due to a heart attack.

In a state of complete shock, I entered her room and saw her photograph in a corner along with a small lamp. I sat near the photograph for a while and a volley of memories of the adorable lady kept flashing in my mind. With a heavy heart I placed the parcel near the photograph. It contained the red shawl.

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First Published: Apr 07, 2009 19:26 IST