A Tribute to Smt. Indira Sivasailam

Indira My Friend… As I Knew Her

“Friendship is like a seed in the garden, you cannot hurry its growth” - So was my friendship with Indira.

The first time I met her was in 1956, soon after my marriage. My husband and I had gone on a visit to take the blessings of Sri. G. Ramakrishna Iyer, (Indira’s father and my husband’s senior) and his wife. As we entered their home, I heard melodious strains of Rama ni Samanamevaru welcoming us. It was Indira and her sister Kamala practicing with their eldest brother Raja humming along. I came to know later that her sister Saraswathy was an accomplished veena player too. Music pervaded their home and was an intrinsic part of their lives.

Navarathri used to be a much sought after event in our house those days and Indira and others from her family were regular visitors. All the members of our family would crowd around Indira with requests ranging from bhajans and kritis to even more serious pallavis. I specially remember Mamava Pattabirama, which I later came to know was one of her favorite songs. She had a divine voice and sang with great bhakti.

Indira always played different roles that life demanded of her with great sincerity and pride. Music was her passion, her home was her pride and her life revolved around her family. Whenever we went for a drive or a walk on the beach, she would give me a lesson or two on the nuances of some raga or the other. She sang with great joy and from her heart. She had wide-ranging interests that included cooking, music, philosophy and Sanskrit.

Indira and I did Sanskrit language and literature study together. I remember discussing Raja Bhoja’s Champu Ramayanam many a time during our beach walks and reflecting on the various ways the later poets had interpreted Valmiki. Right through life, she continued with her philosophy studies and studying the Bhagavad Gita by taking the guidance of learned gurus. Her innate interest was the outcome of a cultural and traditional family background. She nurtured these values over the years, regardless of changing times.

She was always elegantly dressed and it was hard for me to see her at the hospital. Even then, in spite of all the pain, her love for friends was such that from the hospital bed she would enquire about my family with great concern and her love for music was such that she would discuss music in great detail, and I vividly recall our discussion on one of my favorite songs, Sangita Gnanamu Bakthivina.

She had a positive attitude during troubled times and stood true to the value - “Happiness is all about finding beauty in simple things, delight in friendship, uplift in music, pleasure in giving, joy in sharing.”

Smt. Geeta Sundararajan