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My first introduction to the Pasumarthy family was from Dr CVS Ratnam (Tatha) and Mrs Sarojini Ratnam (Nainamma) !! Yess, it is thanks to them that Balaji and I found each other and the rest as they say is history. So in short Nainammma’s best friend and my mother’s best friend happened to know each other. As it often happens, grandmothers love to show off about their grandchildren to their friends. So Nainamma is saying to her friend how tall and handsome her grandson Balaji has become. So, not to be left out, the friend says my friend’s daughter is tall and beautiful !! hmm… now the 2 ladies do what they do best, haha yes you guessed right - matchmaking !!!.

Immediately numbers were exchanged, Balaji’s parents happened to be in Bangalore (luckily) and at the speed of lightning a date was fixed for the elders to come and ‘see’ me at my home.

Balaji was still in the dark - happily going about his work in Madurai tasting tea and selling tea as part of his sales job at Brooke bond - Unilever group.

So they came, they saw and I guess they were impressed - even if I say so myself.

I was also impressed by their description of Balaji - a very very brainy, talented guy.

It was time for them to leave and I helped Nainamma out till the gate. She forgot to wear her slippers so I brought it for her and helped her wear it. (later on I found out that this sealed the deal for them all.) They felt that I would be a good fit since I showed compassion and humility. Soon Tatha rang up my father and said Balaji is visiting and invited us all to their home one evening.

Even though it was unconventional. Many many events that followed were unconventional, Tatha did what he had to do and did not bother about social conventions or what people expected. So instead of Balaji coming to my home, My family and I went to Tathas home. Tatha was waiting on the street to welcome us and Balaji a few steps behind him. The back story - So Tatha had rung up Balaji and told him that it was his birthday the next weekend. He should have a haircut and come to celebrate with them. Bring along a nice shirt was another instruction. Tatha did not tell him that a girl was coming to ‘see’ him :) He had also not shared any of my pictures with him since Tatha felt it did not do justice to me. Tatha wanted the meeting to be in person and nothing else !! Balaji and I hit it off immediately. We ended up talking for about 2 hours and it was time for me to go.

My father offered to drop Balaji to the railway station since he had a train to catch that night back to Madurai. Balaji Enthusiastically nodded yes, but Tatha said no way, he would drop him at the station. Long story short, we were happy, the families were happy and we got engaged in Oct 93, married in Apr 94. In the meanwhile even though Balaji was in Madurai, I constantly kept in touch with Tatha and Nainamma. Visits and staying with them in my vacation too (I was studying MA English)

They took me places and introduced me proudly to their friends. I enjoyed their pampering. I had not had the opportunity to enjoy my grandparents - my paternal grandparents and maternal grandmother I never saw - they had passed away long before. Lost my maternal grandfather when I was very young. So experiencing the love of grandparents was special to me.

One distinct memory is going to a crafts exhibition in Chitrakala Parishat, Tatha said buy anything. I found a small miniature Ganesha carved in stone (Rs5). He laughed loudly and happily bought it for me. I treasure it even now and it is in my puja room till date.

After my engagement, I travelled with Tatha, Nainamma and my future in-laws to Jamshedpur and spent a wonderful 3 weeks there. Got to know all of them so well, their habits, their likes and dislikes, loved their jokes, played/ learnt so many card games. So much so that on my wedding day

I felt like I was part of their family already.

This comfort was thanks to Tatha and all their love, they welcomed me with open arms. While spending these times with him, these are the things I learnt, watched, observed and came to know about him;

1) He simply adored his wife and was there for her in every way. I respected him for this 2) He was punctual and expected the same from others 3) He had this loud infectious laughter that lit up the room and he was tall with a commanding presence 4) He was careful to save - electricity, water, time, money…He made us aware and educated us of this too. To be careful with our resources and save for the future 5) He was generous in his own way 6) He loved sweets and indulged a bit everyday

7) He had travelled the world and picked up curios from all over. While spending this time with him, little did I know how precious it was - since he passed away just 2 months after Balaji and I were married. We were just getting settled in Madurai where Balaji was posted. He was already planning his trip with Nainamma to visit us, he said he wanted to be the first to come to our home as soon as we were ready. He passed away suddenly and we ended up coming back to see him.


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