I am aware that Rummuser has a core of regular readers who enjoy insights into his life and thoughts. As his nephew I thought you might like to hear about him from a different perspective, perhaps giving you an angle on his personality you have not seen before?
Where do I start? Ramana is my Periappa. Literally translated, my ‘big daddy.’ Meaning my fathers eldest brother, Or my uncle!
My first (and lasting) memory of my Periappa was in 1987 (I think) when my father first took the family to India. I would have been 6 years old. When Periappa first saw me he picked me up in the strongest and most affectionate bear hug I had ever felt. Growing up in Scotland, where the culture is more reserved and less demonstrative, this came as quite a shock to me. Here was a man who had never met me squeezing me like a long lost son. I later understood this is exactly how he felt. At the time I simply exchanged notes with my brother as to how strong Periappa’s hug was!
My next memory comes from Periappa’s visit to our family home in Scotland. Here I saw his generosity- paying for taxis when we normally had to wait for a bus, buying me cans of coke before a meal, which mother would never permit! Happy days for a young boy. I also learnt that he can snore as loud as he can squeeze! He also endlessly amused me by his liberal use of the word “bugger”, again not permitted in the family home. “you cheeky bugger”, “bugger off” “silly bugger” (mostly justified when aimed at me!)
As I have grown up I have made more and more trips to India. On arriving to see Periappa I am always greeted the same way, as if I had never left. Although my body is now able to withstand the bear hug. Despite having spent very little time together Periappa’s unconditional love, warmth and generosity towards me has never wavered. It is an amazing thing. Arriving on the doorstep of a family member I had not seen in 6 years in Scotland would most probably not provoke the same reaction! However I am his younger brother’s son, and seemingly automatically qualify to be treated as if I was his own.
With Periappa there is very little formality, in fact it is frowned upon. “How is work? How is Hannah? How is the flat? How was the flight? Where did you fly from?”- none of these (very British, I believe) tools of small talk are required- we proceed straight to the wise cracks, joking insults or the latest cricket score.
Nor, dare I say, should one attempt to politely ask if you can stay for lunch. Or wait to be asked if you would like to stay for lunch. If you are in Periappa’s house you are having lunch there. To suggest otherwise, or imply that you may have to ask, would be an insult. The food is excellent, by the way. I can recommend his dal, which I expect I am eating in this picture.
The other incredible thing about Periappa is his iron will. If he wants to quit drinking, he will. Permanently. Smoking too. And meat, for that matter. With the minimal of fuss. He also cares for his elderly father (my grandfather) on a daily basis. Cooking, cleaning, running around after him, everything. British culture these days would have him packed off to an institution in no time. Indian culture is different, and so is Periappa. I have seen him literally dripping with sweat in the heat of the Indian sun washing up dishes his father has used, as his father goes back to his seat to rest. Then come the quips, jibes, criticisms from the old man. How he has not been decapitated by now I do not know. Periappa it seems, also has the patience of angels. Here is a picture of the three generations on the sofa!
So there is my short insight into what it is like to have Rummuser as an uncle! Love, warmth, generosity. Caring for family placed above all else. But done with an informality and sense of humour to make visits both relaxing and enjoyable. Finally, here is a picture my wife Hannah took of Periappa’s daily walk in the park with one of his friends. That photograph says a lot about Periappa’s concern for his friends too.
Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression.
~ Dr. Haim Ginott