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Letter to my Nephew

Dear Shyam,

Someday, you will be big enough to read this and feel proud of the family you were born into. We are no nation builders, we have had no prime ministers or presidents in our family. For all that you know, centuries will pass before you will read about any of us in history books. But you know what, we have been just as much loved by the creator. Our temple gods have protected us all through the ages and watched over us through the ages. We have had our ups and downs, but we have lived on:-) I have tried to capture our origins up to about 8 preceding generations in the family tree. Ask your mother to share the link with you.

You will agree with me, your mother is a very special woman. Stronger than steel, level headed, outgoing and loving. Also, I know no other person, living or dead, who could manage your father up to whatever degree she can. Every time I think of your mother, I am reminded of her grandmother, your great grand mother, Gauriamma. She was a special woman as well. In fact, the women in your family were all very powerful in their own ways. They independently managed great troubles and challenges in life, but ensured that their children grew up strong and adept at facing life's troubles. One of the reasons why the women in our family were probably more stronger than men is because until my immediate past generation, the nair society was essentially matrilineal. Women lived longer and managed the affairs of the estate better.

Gauriamma was greatly respected, feared, admired, loved and hated in our huge family. She was the eldest of five siblings and had all the pompous show off reminiscent from the time your family controlled vast tracts of land in Tiruvalla. She was a brilliant administrator, agriculturist, story teller and also a loving grand mother. Her power and influence on for of her grand children, I Rajani, Raji and Renjini were such that we are yet to come to terms with her death at the age of 87 some three years ago. We expected her to live forever. When she died, some 800 people descended to wish their last goodbyes to her. Such was her power.

Your mother and both your maternal aunts retain a bit of Gauriamma in them. They are very powerful women. When you grow up and take a wife, ensure that you allow them the space to grow and also ensure that they retain their independent identity. For when you run through rough weather, you need good company to see you through lives ups and downs. If you do so, I am sure that if it is a girl child you have, you will have Gauri blessing your life, just as she blessed ours.

Happy growing up.


  1. Shyam is fortunate to have such women in his family... and such an uncle.


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