Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Mother and daughter or daughter and mother? - Aniruddha Knight

Mother, daughter, guru, disciple, friend, caretaker - a vast complex web that defined the enigma of a relationship between Balasaraswati and Lakshmi. In Balamma’s youth, her mother Jayammal played the role of manager, accompanist, mother, and guru. Through a very rocky relationship, they were the two pillars that defined what we call “dance music” (the actual method of singing for dance) today. In Balamma’s latter part of her career, particularly from the early 1960s, Lakshmi played the essential role of maintaining and pushing Balamma’s career. From ensuring the financial stability of the family to redesigning of her costume, Lakshmi was pivotal in making sure Balamma’s career moved forward in a world that was unfamiliar and unappealing to Balamma. Until Balamma’s last breath, Lakshmi was her caretaker. Balamma’s battles with cancer, diabetes, rheumatic fever and heart disease were battles that were equally fought by my mother as her own. As Balamma aged, the line between who was mother and who was daughter had blurred even further. Even 15 years after Balamma’s passing, my mother got so used to cooking and eating without salt (Balamma’s heart disease) that she would constantly forget to add salt in our meals at home!

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