I met Appapan and Ammama during my summer vacation of 1997 in an apartment that we used to live in. Cochin being a conservative city at that point of time, my mother was quite forward about my clothing (shorts and t-shirt). Some of the residents of this apartment were not pleased about the same and hence I was restricted from playing downstairs during the evenings by my mother. In this scenario Appapan and Ammama a retired honorary lawyer and teacher moved their residence from Mumbai to Cochin into the same apartment. They came into my rescue and told my mother, “we cannot change people’s minds and attitudes, our grandchildren wear what your child wears, so do not be bothered”. This marked the beginning of a friendship between a 7 year old and two probably 60 year olds which turned out to be epic.
Through these two wonderful people, then came into my life Tony, their grandchild and my childhood best buddy. Appapan and Ammama gifted him with a gear bicycle on the 5th of March 1997 on his 6th birthday, which was my initial motivation for the friendship. Though he was not very fond of sharing this birthday present, he was forced to do so by Ammama. Later, I became Tony’s temporary replacement during his absence on some of my vacations, where I had full possession of his birthday gift.
Appapan and Ammama’s house was like a child’s heaven where there was unlimited food, TV, games, free stock market classes and no restrictions. Appapan also used to be my partner is crime for stealing roses that our neighbor grew on the terrace (to keep under the Jesus picture). Appapan’s mundu became my secret spot when folded to hide these roses. Though, Ammama would come up with the “Thou shall not steel commandment”, we never bothered and their apartment became my primary house. At times when they were not home, I used to slip in small flowers and letters for both of them to read when they come back.
During the end of one of my vacations, I went to say goodbye to both of them and still remember Appapan hugging me so tight, then he ran into his bedroom and started crying. Though Ammama’s eyes teared up she had more control over her emotions. Later even though they moved out of that apartment, I tracked them and made surprise visits to them at a place called Koraty. When I met with the accident, even though they were quite unwell and Appapan was hardly able to walk, they use to manage to come down in a cab to meet me.
Yesterday when Tony messaged me about Appanan’s death and funeral, my first thought was to cancel my ticket and fly to Mumbai to bid farewell to him but then again my mother told me that he is somewhere there watching me. My last memory of Appapan was when he was alive and let in remain that way forever.
Some people come into your life and leave footprints that can never be washed away. Three such people in my life are Appapan, Ammama and Tony. I could say that I loved Appapan and Amama more than my own grandparents and they mean so much to me.
Thank you Appapan and Ammama for making my childhood so beautiful. I am going to miss you so much