I was looking forward to this day, for past few weeks, every time I thought about it enormity of what Akka has accomplished kept hitting me. For this day close second to when we had our Pondy house gruhapravesam – in terms of sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.
Let me start with brief history, both our families have roots in the same small street in Thoravi village. But probably our fates were decided long before we were born, my father – encouraged and supported by my grandfather completed M.Sc. in Statistics, first person from the extended clan to get college education. Akka’s father started getting involved in family agriculture and was married-off in early age. Both families during our grandfather generation probably had similar land holding few acres (less 10) and where upper middle class in a village of few hundred. Akka’s father berthed few children out of which 4 daughters and 1 son survived and had mortgaged and had his land locked-up with Co-op bank, which meant the family ended-up in near poverty. This meant children started in village school but had to be sent to work to help the family. When Akka was in her early teens she came to our house to be resident domestic help and she was with us until we arranged her marriage. My mother tried to make sure she could read and learnt tailoring and other skills while she stayed with us.
For my parents sense of fulfillment at getting Akka married changed into despair when they learnt she was being abused by gambling and alcoholic husband. Akka started performing housemaid job and slowly buy household articles that will eventually all get pledged by her husband. After lots of threats from my parents, the abuses slowed to make it tolerable, In due course they had two sons and Akka was constantly struggling to provide food to her family. When I worked in Chennai in late 90, I seriously considered getting a divorce for Akka, as I felt she could take care of her children if she did not have to deal with her husband. But Naivety got a reality check when I realized a women living in poverty and single in Chennai is not going any better, I stopped worrying about what I can do and let her fate take her to her density.
Today Akka has provided education to her sons – Rajesh Finished B.Sc. from Loyola and has been employed in Insurance BPO for more than 5 years now, Kamesh struggled to finish his Diploma and works as mechanic in Automobile show room. Some ten years back Akka borrowed money to buy a piece of land near Porur, it was big gamble. It was done in secret and we had land document at our home for a long time. Finally few years back they figured out a way to medicated and get her husband out of alcoholism, which means things have been better.
Over the years she has got few well wishers (apart from our family) who have helped her pay for sons education and support her efforts to build a two storey home at cost of close to 20 Lakhs. I was myself not sure if Akka would be able complete the house and wisdom of constructing two storey (her reasoning, two sons are marriageable age, need have two one bed room floors!). I was wondering If twist of fate I and Akka had exchanged our spot if I would striven so hard, I am not sure I would accomplished so much.
Akka & Amma
All these years akka has depended on Amma’s advice and wisdom, she does not do anything without talking to Amma and though we never talked about it – this would rank at the same level when Amma saw me and Bhuvanesh do our apartment house warming. Amma went to Akka’s place last morning and was there until today evening.
She has done so much for our family, I am not sure if we will every repay her but it is gratifying to see her taste some success and hold her head-up and feel proud.
Finally Akka is someone who is genuinely filled with love and does her work with lots of care. She is unbelievably generous recently I witnessed her give Rs 500 to someone – that was her way saying I am there for you. Akka has probably worked so hard I am not sure how healthy she is going to be in her old-age but I am sure about one thing she is not going to depend on any body till her last breath.