T.R. Ramachandran, is my grandfather. My mom's father. The correct English usage would be, he was my grandfather, since he died in 1990. But I don't care. He IS my grandfather and will always be even if he isn't here physically. Anyway, why am I writing about him? So, people will know that there existed on this earth a gentle and loving soul whom I miss dearly. I'm not trying to be flowery in my language. But I am sentimental, so I guess - bear with me.
The picture you see here was taken in his earlier years. (I don't know when exactly). My grandfather was an old time actor, although my sister and I only knew of this. We didn't really get to see him in action as such although we heard a great many stories about his acting days from my mom, grandmother and aunts. It was absolutely wonderful listening to how they knew all the famous people from their time and how a whole host of actors and actresses had attended my parents wedding. Apparently my grandfather went against his father's wishes and ran off to become an actor! (Way to go thatha!). He followed his dreams and it made him successful. I hope to do the same.
Anyway, the thatha (tamil word meaning grandfather) I remember is the one who stood up for my sister and me no matter what. He yelled at my mom and grandmother if they bothered us or yelled at us. :) He was a simple man, with simple needs and lots of love which he bestowed upon his grandchildren. He was a trusting soul and naive in many ways, especially when dealing with certain types of people (and I do mean the unsavoury kind). When I hear of how people have taken advantage of him it makes me absolutely furious with the world. He was a comedian, both in profession and in real life and he was tons of fun to be around. Varsha and I cannot recollect a single moment when we might have been angry at him. And that's saying a lot. :) He gave us advice, let us be kids, and protected us from whatever he could. He carried us when we were babies, sang lullabies to us and was proud to show us off to the world. He loved his vetralai ( betal leaf with toppings) and I have a vague recollection of having watched in fascination as he prepared his vetralais after a meal. He didn't swear, he didn't smoke and he lived life as best as he could. Sadly, he passed away in 1990 after an unsuccessful open-heart surgery. It was the worst day of my life. I didn't even know till we got to my aunt's house in Los Angeles, that he had passed away. My cousins, my aunts, my mom, my sister, my uncles, my great-grandmother and my grandmother were there and we were all completely lost. Thatha had not wanted the surgery, but one of my aunt's convinced him that it would be for the best, esp. since he had had two heart attacks earlier. I know that it is one of her deepest regrets now. My great-grandmother went into a state of shock, which she never recovered from. And I don't think I've moved on from it either. I do know that after that, I have never been able to cry for any real-life tragedy. I can cry at movies and I can cry when I read books, but I can't cry for a living being. Anyway, I can analyze myself later on.
I wish people had a chance to meet him because he had the ability to make you believe in yourself and to make you smile. And that's a huge thing these days. You can tell how a person was by how he is remembered. A few years ago, I had been to Palaghat (18 villages in Kerala). I was walking down a street with an aunt and it being such a small village (some of the villages are only a street long, I kid you not), my aunt knew most people there. She went into someone's house to use their phone and she started talking to the people and she mentioned that I was T.R.Ramachandran's pethi (tamil word meaning granddaughter). Immediately, the owners of the house (a husband and wife who were getting on in their years) sat and spoke with me at length about how they miss his movies and you don't find class act comedians like him anymore. It made me so proud! They were so happy to have me in their house just because I was T.R.Ramachandran's grand daughter. They even invited us to lunch but we had to decline at that moment. Almost anywhere in Palaghat, when my aunt mentioned to whom I was related, someone had something very kind to say about my grandfather. They only knew him from his movies, but they had loved his work. It was wonderful being there.
I haven't seen all my grandfather's movies. I hope to. But my favourite, of the ones I've seen, is 'Sathumirandal'. I feel it portrays him as the person we knew him to be in real life. Anyway, I just had to write about T.R.Ramachandran, since I miss him everyday.