Amma Endru Azhaikaadha Uyir Illayae
- Sweta Ravisankar
e-mail: sweta.natyam@gmail.com

May 18, 2012

(The title in Tamil translates to “There is not a single soul that does not call out for its mother.”)

Amma Yaar - this is what I call her with love, anger, frustration and sadness. These words even flash on my cell phone when she is trying to reach me. Simple though it may seem, it always reminds me that she is my mother as well as my best friend. It brings me a lot of joy to give you a glimpse of the woman who inspires me to keep improving every minute of every day.

Culture and arts run in her blood. She is the daughter of N Sankarmani – grandnephew of the founder of Sanskrit College, V.Krishnaswamy Iyer - and Kamakshi, daughter of Ramachandra Iyer, advocate in Thanjavur.  Being the only girl among 3 kids, she was pampered by her father, disciplined by her mother and protected by her brothers. Hospitality was given to her as heritage by her mother, who would fill the room with warmth and love the minute she walked in. Independence was a virtue ingrained by her father who trusted her with the monthly grocery accounts and bank transactions. The love she has for her brothers has today translated into a strong link between us cousins.

Whenever she speaks to us about her childhood days she mentions Guruvilas at Mylapore, Chennai where she lived. She reminisces about the visits to her grandfather’s home in Thanjavur during vacations and the Big Temple of Brihadeeshwara, about how dance and music was in the air in that house. She learnt music and sings very well. After her schooling from Lady Sivaswamy Girls High School, she did BSc at Stella Maris College.

She worked briefly for Syndicate Bank. She got married in 1981 and made her way to a new life. Her mother-in-law Sarada was a Srividhya Upasaki and her father-in-law N Sivasubramanian, cousin of Gemini Ganesan, was a chartered accountant. She found a good friend and confidant in her mother-in-law. After the birth of my sister, my parents often moved due to the nature of my father’s work. They lived in Madurai, Bangalore, Chennai and finally Mumbai in 1986. Mumbai brought with it a pain of being away from family but also a new lease in life. Her initial days comprised a busy schedule, a new born, a shy 4 year old and a husband struggling to adjust to Mumbai. Once my parents had made their peace with the hectic lifestyle of the city, she took an active interest in tailoring. All the clothes (Dad’s shirts, my sister’s and my dresses) were designed and stitched by her. She also managed a boutique from home where she sold tailored garments. She still found empty pockets of time in her day which she longed to fill.

Sometimes wondrous things happen by chance and change the course of your life. One day a friend walked into our house with a girl from our society and told my mother, “You have a mathematics degree, don’t you? She will be your tuition student.” She started taking tuition at home, holding me in one arm and instructing with the other. She soon decided to make her passion her profession. She did her B.Ed. degree and became a Mathematics teacher for higher secondary classes. She was even the assistant headmistress of a school for some years. Her students respect and love her a lot and her oldest students are still in touch with her 15 years after passing out. Every teacher’s day, she is overwhelmed when her students wish her. She made a conscious attempt to keep me and my sister enrolled in different activities. I was fortunate to learn swimming and skating. I went touring as a part of my school RSP band, scouts and guides.

My mother’s association with my dance goes back to when I was 9 years old and I wanted to travel by myself and go to my dance class. She was really worried. But when I started going regularly, she was filled with pride. There wasn’t a single dance competition my mother left out. Both my sister and I love dancing. My mom would sit through all our choreographing sessions and give her comments which would help us improve each time. There were times when I was given a 2 minute part in a 15 minute dance drama and she was happy even if travelling to the venue took half a day.

Thanks to her, I have danced in all school functions, participated in competitions and won many awards. She has always accompanied me, taken care of my make up and stood near the music system with joy and pride on her face as I performed. It is that perseverance and belief she had in me that translated into dance as a serious career option and I started working towards it. Throughout this journey, my mother has managed my programs not only by arranging them with the organizers but also by taking care of my costumes and make-up. She encouraged my dad to play the mridangam and my sister to do the compering for my dance recitals. All my recitals have been a family effort under her guidance. When I started my own dance class in Mumbai, she treated my students like her kids and gave them food at home after class. In fact, I have her to thank for the cultural scholarship I was awarded for my Master studies. She has stood beside me encouraging me right from the time I was dancing on the stage for just 2 minutes until today, when I have chosen it as a career. 

Today, I am married and live in San Jose, California, with my husband. When I look back, I realize how much I’ve troubled her and how patiently she has handled me and always stood beside me. She is a wife, a mom, a teacher, a designer, a fantastic home maker, a manager and the list grows every day with new experiences. I salute the multifaceted lady, Kousalya Ravisankar.

Amma Yaar, you are my friend, my guide and mean the world to me. Love you, Ma.

Comments


Beautifully written article, Sweta. We can see that talent runs in the family. We wish you all the best and may God help you to grow more and more. Best wishes for all your endeavors.
- Veena NK (May 19, 2012)

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