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Whenever I get the chance to go back home, I spend as much time as possible with my grandpa. I love learning from him and hearing stories about my dad from when he was my age. The last time I visited, he told me the story of the house my dad spent his childhood in.
To mark the start of their new life together, my grandpa built a house for my grandma and named it மகர நிலா. He said that each letter in the name served a specific purpose; மானம் - Honor, கடமை - Duty, நின்மதி - Peace, லாவண்யம் - Beauty. He wanted the house he and his children lived in to share those qualities, hence the name.
After he told the story, he asked for a favor.
He asked me to promise that I'd never forget the story of the house he built for his wife, which went on to become a home after its walls saw my dad and his four siblings grow up in it.
I gave him my word and told him I'd love to build a மகர நிலா for my own wife one day - in the hopes that I'd have a family like his own.
He laughed and told me he wouldn't tell my mom I said that. But he was proud, and putting a smile on my grandpa's face meant the world to me.
But as fate would have it, I forgot the ர and what it meant.
I decided I'd ask him the next time I saw him.
But a couple of months ago, my grandpa was rushed to the hospital because of a health scare.
He was in the ICU for a few days, and I was worried I would let him down.
Luckily he survived, and I spoke to him a couple of days after he got home.
"Do you remember மகர நிலா and what it means?" His first words on the phone stunned me.
I couldn't believe it was that important for him or that he'd remember he entrusted me with such a huge responsibility.
Worried, I told him that I remembered, and he said he was proud. I didn't want to speak to him over the phone about the missing letter; I needed to ask him in person.
The next time I go back home, I'm going to ask him about the story of மகர நிலா again. And that I haven't really covered any ground in terms of finding someone to live in it with…
Author's Note: An earlier version of this story was published in the Summer of 2021. My grandpa passed away at the start of November this year.
Luckily, I was able to visit him a couple of months before his passing and learn that the ர stood for ரசனை (good taste).
My grandpa often said fate brought him and my grandma together - the same fate that took him from me without letting me say my goodbyes.
It's my hope that fate gives me the chance to become someone he'd be proud of.
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