Among our seven magnificent Mamas, ( not to mention their seven sisters one of whom was our mother) Patta who,left us suddenly yesterday, was the one endowed with an extra sprinkle of Mama Magic . He was the most adored Mama of yours truly when she was a little girl about whom she had penned a corny poem called My Uncle Pat, which thankfully, is irretrievably lost.
Soon after the devastating news arrived on the morning of May 27, , Big Brother Subri and I talked about Patta, who like most other Mamas – Kittu, Srinivas, Venkatesh, and the late Sriram, was never addressed as Mama. Only the eldest Venkatakrishnan and the second, Dasaratharam were reverentially addressed as Mama.
Patta’s magic worked differently with each nephew or niece. To me , he was always my equal in age. When I was eight, Patta was eight too, totally involved in entertaining me and being my best friend. As cousin Gita said, one could tell-him anything – secrets, gossip, or cook up an imaginary tale, and he’d listen and offer opinion and carry on long conversation with a niece 17 years younger . . I wonder which kind of Mama would actually let a six-year-old tag along with him to work- which was being a lecturer of Botany in V R College Nellore, of course the answer is the Patta variety of Mama!
Subri remembered the many hot summer vacations spent in Nellore. “When Bunty and I went to Nellore, Patta and Sriram would be preparing for their exams. But Patta would take them to. movies, grumbling mildly because it was “boring” Pandava Vanavasam, or take them out for a round of Trunk Road, setting aside his exam tensions.
In the 21st Century, we are all grown up, and he had upgraded to Tatha status, but I suspect his little grandson 6-year-old Neo, could call him Patta without adding Tatha, and he’d happily answer!
He was a great cook, and mightily proud about the great “Pattatos” fry that he’d roast up for everyone , never mind that the entire kitchen would be in the sink to be washed later by someone else!
His affection was boundless, and generously given, and if he offered to turn up at your home to make. Pattatoes Fry, you could consider yourself greatly honoured.
Botany, painting and Ganesha, these were his passions. He had a vast collection of Ganeshas and dabbled in painting – acrylic on canvas mostly, I he informed me. I started sharing his paintings on Facebook and he was thrilled at the attention he got and the compliments. I t all started with the 21 leaf Ganesha that he sketched.
I wrote on FB-
Our Uncle Patta, is a Botany expert, and an awesome painter too,
His other passion is Ganesha. Here he has combined all three to create a painting that I have named BELEAF IN GANESHA. .
The 21 leaves that are offered to Ganesha are in this leafy Ganesha. It is acrylic on canvas, says the uncle.
Now there are other uncles who also paint. I shall tell all about them in the book to be titled Uncles Who Paint.
This meanwhile is a great way to learn botany, painting, and to know Ganesha’s Grace.
Many friends appreciated and complimented him, and it became the ritual -I would share his work on my timeline, so more people could see it.
In these COVID months, he became more prolific, and when he painted a portrait of Mahaperiyava, I asked him if would make one for me.Patta said he could have this one, and what’s more when we asked him if could make a companion piece of Ramana Maharshi, he quickly produced that too!
What can be more sublime than to receive the most precious gift of their portraits from our Mama Patta aka Pattabhiram Mamidipudi, prolific painter of prodigious talent who is also the great botanist of our family which loves, laughs, lives and argues in the Ramayana.
Patta had recently finished a portrait of MS,and I was to share it on FB as usual. I’ve been dawdling over it,
“Yedu dee Subbi !” I thought he’d call and say, “eppo post pannarey MS portrait? “
That is not to be. Someone up there in Mama Heaven summoned our Patta to rustle,up that heavenly Pattatoes fry for them
Farewell Patta. Wander merrily in your foodie Swarga where they never run out of dosas, idlis,, pongal, vada, all the potatoes that you can fry. We will hold on to and celebrate the memories, the fun and laughter that you always brought along ,and that extra sprinkle of. Mama Magic!
PS: Patta’s other grandson, Vihaan has. Written to Patta a little farewell letter, addressing him as Patta! . Added below, with presumed consent from Vihaan and his mom Vinaya.