I have many cousins and relatives, but my Mom’s brother, Keci mama, always remains in my heart.
Recently, he passed away.
I keep my memories alive by remembering the good times I had with Keci mama whenever visiting India. We would always stay in his bungalow in Chennai. It was in a gated community, a big house with marble floors. Before it was time for me to go to bed, he would put lawn chairs out in the small front yard. We would sit there, talking about life in India and America, while gazing at the stars. I remember that moment fondly.
Another time, Keci mama took me out shopping. I wanted a tricycle–and he bought it right away. He took the tricycle inside his bungalow and let me ride around the living room. Everyone was surprised, since he never let anyone do that before.
Keci mama was inspired by what I accomplished for the hearing loss community, and platform I created–which now stands at 21,000 members worldwide. I was so glad to share my journey with him. After all, he’s the one who truly discovered my hearing loss at the age of two.
When my parents realized I wasn’t talking clearly, they became concerned. Others reassured them that some boys develop speech a little later than usual, and so they shouldn’t worry too much. Fortunately, a breakthrough came when I visited India with my family a year later. Keci mama took me to an excellent ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist and had him test me. That is when they diagnosed my hearing loss. They recommended I should see an audiologist in the US. Right away, I was fitted with hearing aids.
My very last trip to India with my entire family was the last time I saw Keci mama in Chennai. I felt like an outsider. Keci mama’s grandkids gave all their attention to my nephew and niece since they’re in a younger age group. I just didn’t fit in.
But Keci mama made me feel important while staying at his house. He arranged for me to catch a movie with his grandkids, my nephew, and niece when they were planning on going. Since they were staying at another house, Keci mama made sure I didn’t miss the movie with them and took me in the car to meet them at the theater. He put in a lot of effort to make sure I didn’t miss out. That itself I will always remember, as it meant a lot to me. Someone cared about me more than I can ever describe.
Even though I didn’t get to see Keci mama a lot while growing up in America, all the little things he did really impacted my life. It would be very difficult making another trip to India and not seeing him there.
He always had a special place in my heart. I am blessed that I shared parts of my life with him when I could. That’s why I wrote this post: to share a tribute to Keci mama.