a2z, a2z blogging, AtoZ, great grandfather, liberal, memoirs, ulpathishnu
Since father’s passing away two years back, mother has been staying with us. This has given her the opportunity to observe me, her daughter, at close quarters.
I cannot really say mother knew me as a person back when I lived with her, or that she was interested enough to find out who I was. At fourteen I was sent to boarding school, and afterwards to a college hostel for the duration of time I earned a degree. Though I was back home for my two years of post graduation, I moved (shoved out) out again to do a short stint of voluntary teaching at my parents’ favorite charity mission. Soon after I was married off and moved away permanently, to set up my home with the L&M in far away places, he being in the army.
In the succeeding years, up to the time she moved in with me, there have been lots of visits either ways, some as long as a month even. Those were different times when my world was all about bringing up children. I shunned political or religious talk, and any opinion I did have, I strictly kept to myself.
Perhaps it is age, but now, I am more outspoken about my views, especially in my own home (Okay, on Facebook too!). Besides, as I am wont to repeat, if I cannot be myself in my own home, where the hell can I be myself? I must say that I do make a lot of concessions for some people who visit my home and in spite of knowing where I stand with regards to things ‘throw-up (their pet theories) repeatedly, all over my clean carpet’. At those times, I hold my tongue for the sake of peace. Yeah, outspoken and holding my tongue, they don’t actually go together one might say. But I manage to do it.
At other times though, I lament, I rant, I rave, I reflect, I review and most importantly, I question, question, question…. and then again question. My audience consists of two, the L&M and Luci. Perhaps the L&M doesn’t agree with everything I say. He does with 90% – of things that matter – and that is good enough in a decent marriage, I feel. I am happy to let go of the other 10%. He can watch shows I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. He can also secretly laugh at the songs I listen to because they are in languages he doesn’t understand. Not that I understand the languages either, but songs are songs, language doesn’t matter. And I find I have infamously digressed.
Back to mother and the inescapable opportunity she got to acquaint herself with my way of thinking. One day, she hears me yet again questioning the system that will not let the less fortunate than us live with dignity and says thoughtfully, “You are an Ulpathishnu, like your great-grandfather.” Eh? Come again!
My great-grandfather is one of the five mahakavi‘s (great poets) of Kerala. I am familiar with his writings, poetry, drama, songs, compositions of Carnatic music, the translations done from Sanskrit to Malayalam. I know that though he was Poet Laureate of Travancore, he preferred to lead a life without the bowing and scraping that went with life in courts (Hearsay. I cannot vouchsafe for the veracity of this bit of information though I can so relate to it!). I also knew he died too early, at the age of forty-five.
What I didn’t know was that he was an ulpathishnu. Mother went on to say that he used to gather children of the neighborhood, children belonging to castes that were not meant to be educated in those times, and taught them in the premises of his house. My interest was piqued. This I NEVER knew about him. Why hadn’t anyone told me in all these years? Families talk of n unwanted things. why was this important bit left out? I needed to know more of this man!
Anyways, what the heck was an ulpathishnu? It was not a Malayalam word I was familiar with, and in fact was hearing it for the first time (I think!). I immediately set about searching and found my answer in the Malayalam to English dictionary. An Ulpathishnu was a Liberal. Ahaaa!
© Shail Mohan 2020
Oh the things we discover … I learn something new every day!
‘If I cannot be myself in my own home, where the hell can I be myself?’ Loved this! More power to you.
Mick Canning said:
Hoping to hear more about your Great-grandfather!
I hope to find our more, Mick. By the way, here is his Wiki page:
Mick Canning said:
Quite a fellow!
Its weird how family never talks of the important stuff. And yes “If I cannot be myself…?” I agree with that wholeheartedly. And add me to that Ulpathishnu list…oh wait! I forgot I still think some people should use super glue for their lips or maybe thumbs (You know who I am alluding to), to curtain their freedom to speak…so I guess, I fall off the Liberal rung 😛
They always talked of his writings and everyone songs the songs he composed. This was the first I heard of something other than those.
Haha. I think liberal’s are allowed a few of those thoughts 😉
What a wonderful thing to find out about your grandfather. Clearly, he was a man ahead of his time. You have inherited his values!
I’d like to think so! And it definitely made my day to find this out about him. Here was someone I could identify with. I am afraid I cannot say the same about many others in the family.
I hope you will share your information about your great grandfather with “us”. He sounds fascinating. And give Luci a hug for me.
Forgot to link his Wiki page in the post earlier. Here it is:
I hope to find out more stuff than what’s there. And Luci sends woof. wags and slobbery kisses back 🙂
You are of a literary ancestry. Super cool.
I am glad you put it that way. Thank you. Usually I get, “Oh, no wonder you write!” Never mind that I have scores of aunts and uncles and cousins who don’t ‘write’ 😉
Btw, literary and musical too.
Visited your blog after a long time. This is such a great post. So have you found out more about your poet ancestor?
Not yet. But hopefully soon.
And glad to see you here, Ritu! 🙂
This is beautiful. I enjoy your reflections on Fb and elsewhere 🙂
Thank you. On FB too? Name, please 🙂
Ken Powell said:
Brilliant! Loved this post 😀
Thank you, Ken! 🙂
I was wondering where this was leading too.
Now you know! 😉
Wow… Its lovely to know about this Shail. You must feel great about it. Also how your mother understood you.
Yes, I do. But I doubt about the understanding. We stand on different ends of the political spectrum.