Any self respecting South Indian worth his salt, will know this early morning chant by heart. We are woken out of our sleepy stupors, with MS Subbulakshmi's comforting nasal twang playing loudly and persistently in the background.
For six years I've woken up to this prayer, while watching my grandfather potter around with his electronic shaving kit. I would stare at him sleepily, as he slowly went about his morning rituals. Right before he would step into the shower, I would drift back into sleep only to be rudely awoken by my grandmother.
Breakfast comprised of delicious fluffy egg appams, steaming hot idiyappams or fresh out of the stove puttu and kadala. In hindsight, I wish I had spent some more time in the kitchen with my grandmother and her maids, instead of behaving like the jungle prince Mowgli. All that time I spent mucking around in the outdoors, could have been utilised instead, to learn some of her signature recipes because I miss home food so much now, that it breaks my heart.
By the time we were done with breakfast, MS Subbulakshmi's chanting would be replaced by other sweet sounding malayalee bhajans. And my grandfather would be in the prayer room, bathed and ready to take me to school. I would bully him to speed up his prayers, so that I could reach school on time.
The days I didn't reach on time, I would go home and give him a lecture on the importance of punctuality and keeping time. He would, like all grandfathers, listen to my inane chatter with utmost patience and a sage-like smile, as he slowly yet steadily demolished the contents of my school lunch box, which would drive me even more mad. If I didn't want to eat my lunch, would should he? And that would be our next tug of war for the day.
My days were incomplete without MS Subbulakshmi, my grandmother's delicious meals and my grandfather dropping me to school. If any of these things were disrupted even for a day, I would be in a very foul mood.
I relied on MS Subbulakshmi to wake me up every morning, my grandmother's meals to keep me going through the day and my grandfather's hand and handkerchief to wipe my tears and blow my nose into after reaching school. Having panic attacks, being a drama queen and vegetating at home are three personality traits/habits that haven't left me till date.
I had my grandfather to deal with my meltdowns back then. And now, with him gone, I feel quite lost.