Posts Tagged ‘ Leading Articles Today ’

NaMo’s Lok Pal

Finally the Indian Parliament has passed the Lok Pal Bill and we saw a lot of grand standing and credit posturing by all the political leaders of the Congress and the BJP.

Something surreal and sublime was happening in the country. For we Indians, used to seeing all political parties dispatching newly elected MLAs and MPs to some impregnable forts, blatant horse trading to cobble together majority, and parliament/ state assemblies being stalled for the silliest of reasons, this was a welcome change. The only time we saw our parliamentarians display unity was when it comes to their pay cheque.

Suddenly our leaders became goody two shoes. Post the Delhi elections we saw the victor and the vanquished, begging, prodding, and cajoling their biggest opponent Aam Aadmi Party to form the government. Parliament was ‘debating’, yes you read it right, debating on the need for an ombudsman organization, state funding of elections, electoral reforms, food security, price rise etc. Leaders were making ‘astounding discoveries regarding engaging people’. Basic principles of participative democracy is presented as ‘a bold new idea’. Our political class was displaying a new sense of exalted virtue and political morality. And India sure looked close to becoming a ‘paradise’.

Suddenly the leaders from Congress and BJP were graciously congratulating Anna Hazare for his contribution to ‘enact the Lok Pal Bill’. This was the same leaders who shooed away Anna and his India Against Corruption Movement, the last time around, ie., 2011, saying they were duty bound ‘to protect against outsiders trespassing into the law-making prerogatives of an elected Parliament’.

This time around, Anna, on his part, graciously accepted the ‘compromise Lok Pal’ offered by the government and called off his fast at Ralegan Siddhi. But, the most curious part was that all the leaders who spoke, conveniently forgot the contribution made by Arvind Kejriwal. But lost in the din was yet another important news – ‘Gujarat got its Lokayuktha’. And that brings me to the reason for writing this article.

ModiBut before we start I would like to take the legal meaning of ‘Ombudsman’ from which the concept of Lok Pal was born. In Government/Politics and Diplomacy, ‘ombudsman’ is a commissioner who acts as independent referee between individual citizens and their government or its administration.

Gujarat passed Gujarat Lokayukta Act in 1986, but almost from the time Mr. Narendra Damodardas Modi became the Chief Minister of Gujarat, the Gujarat Lokayukta, has not been functional.

In 2001, when Modi came to power in Gujarat, Justice RM Soni’s was the Lokayukta. Justice Soni was appointed during Keshubhai Patel’s rule in 1998 and his term expired in December 2003 and the post has been lying vacant since then. From then on Modi scuttled every move to appoint a Lokayukta and make the Gujarat Lokayukta, functional.

Finally on 25 August 2011, the Gujarat Governor, Dr. Kamla Beniwal, appointed Justice R. A. Mehta to the post of Lokayukta of Gujarat. Justice Mehta was recommended for the post by the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court S.J. Mukhopadhaya in June 2011.  A miffed Modi accused the Governor of running a parallel government in the state supported by the Congress and demanded that she be recalled.

The Gujarat government then challenged the appointment in the Gujarat High Court, arguing that the Governor could not make the appointment without the State government’s advice. On 10 October 2011, the two-member High Court bench gave a split verdict and in January 2012, a third member upheld Beniwal’s decision. This was a major blow to Modi.

The Gujarat government then approached the Supreme Court, however lost the case. The SC upheld the Gujarat High Court’s verdict that though the decision on Lokayukta appointment was made without consultation with or approval from Modi, it was as per the letter and spirit of the Gujarat Lokayukta Act, 1986.

The Gujarat government appealed against the SC verdict twice, but lost. Even after the SC upheld his appointment, Justice Mehta however desisted from charge of the office, citing 23 reasons. The controversy over his appointment, he said, had ‘denigrated the office of the Lokayukta and it had lost all the grace and dignity.’ (Read full text of his resignation letter here)

This was Modi’s chance. As is the norm in Gujarat, Modi wanted to appoint his man-friday for the role of Lokayukta, but he knew that this would not stand the scrutiny of law. So he now framed a new bill – Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill, 2013.

The new Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill, was passed by the state assembly in April, 2013, but, unfortunately, on 2 September 2013, the bill was returned by Gujarat Governor. On 1 October 2013, the state assembly passed the bill for the second time. But this time Governor Dr. Beniwal was constitutionally bound to accept the bill. Thus finally Modi had his way and succeeded in subverting the Supreme Court decision on the appointment of Lokayukta.

Unlike the Gujarat Lokayukta Act, 1986 the new bill provided primacy to the Chief Minister, over the Gujarat High Court Chief Justice, in appointing the ‘ombudsman’. The new Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill, 2013 empowers a selection committee chaired by the Chief Minister appoints the Lokayukta. The panel comprises the Speaker of the Assembly, a Minister, the Leader of Opposition, the State Vigilance Commissioner and a High Court Judge, ‘to be nominated by the Chief Justice of the HC in consultation with the collegium of five senior judges’.

The new Bill also proposes a special provision which gives pivotal power to the state government in excluding any ‘public functionaries’ from the jurisdiction of the Lokayukta.

Then we saw Jayaram Ramesh capturing headlines saying ‘Modi talking on lokayukta is like Asaram talking on rape’. Jayaram was spot on, but then you know that these politicians only put on a public show to deride each other in varying degrees restraining themselves only to varying degrees of their innate civility or belligerence as is their habit. But they go ahead and do what they want anyway – even change a law or bring in a new one to suit their whim and fancy.

Lokayukta is an ombudsman body which is supposed to look into irregularities brought to its notice against the decisions taken by the state cabinet and the administration. Then how can the Chief Minister who is the head of the state cabinet have supremacy in deciding who should be the ombudsman?

This not only belies fundamental logic and intelligence. To me, it is a travesty of the institution of the ombudsman, but also provides an indication of authoritarian incoherence and double speaks by the Bharatiya Janata Party and Narendra Damodardas Modi.

Heads up – the politicians win. Tails up – the people lose !!!

Cartoon : Courtesy Satish Acharya

Silencing the Brave

If today the scams are tumbling out of the closet the primary credit must go to some excellent investigative journalism, not by the big TV channels but by journalists from small time newspapers. Therfore the news of the senior journalist Chandrika Rai and his family have been murdered to silence them is shocking.

Chandrika Rai, a freelancer for dailies Navbharat and The Hitavada, was found murdered at his Jabalpur residence along with his entire family – wife Durga, son Jalaj and daughter Nisha – in Madhya Pradesh’s Umaria district on February 18th, 2012, Saturday. Rai was exposing the dirty dealings of the illegal coal mafia in MP. This is not the first time such heinous act has been committed. The murder of journalist Jyotirmoy Dey eight months ago is still green in memory.

Also the statistics that during the past one year at least one RTI activist has been killed each month is a chilling news indicating how criminals have over law into their hands and the police appear to be unable to stem the rot. It is a reflection of the inefficiency of the state administrations all over the country and with curruption ruling the roost it appears to be clear case of political-criminal nexus that is playing havoc with governance.

By February 20th, 2012, Monday the mainstream media, confused about its own role conflicted between market valuation/TRP and authentic reporting, seems to have forgotten Chandrika Rai. The spat between Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virendra Shewag took precedence over the killing of a fellow journalist, albeit from a small newspaper. As a viewer really hope that the mainstream media will abandon its misplaced priorities and redeem its credibility to some extend.

Photo : Courtesy DailyBaskar.com

Rapturous Intoxication

In the silence of the morning, I write what comes to my mind
Yet in my slumber, it started out with thoughts of you.
With or without you, your love sees me through.

In your loving arms, feel of your love surround me
Warm, secure and safe from all harm
The faith in my heart will carry us through.

Kneeling at your side, I’m asking for your hand
Beckoning me to a distant land where passion glows
To unite and experience the magic of your touch.

Your heart captivating and whispering sweet nothings
I longed to hear and everything you longed to say
All inhibitions die suddenly in your warmth

My caresses of your skin as your beauty unfurled
The desire rampant on latent whispers and the silence
In the morning, evening, and in dead of the night.

Nothing matters for I’m in your arms today
Together merged in a soul redeeming bliss
The altar, that rocks in harmony to the rhythm from within.

Soul connection or fantasy….. does it really matter?
It does not, the beauty is in the dream

Photo – Courtesy Getty Images

Enduring Absence

Your exquisite eyes melted my heart,
When you looked, my soul sparkled.
Present in my heart, you were with an enduring absence.

We missed the perfect moment,
Came close as this to love and let it pass.
Wrapped arms around a dream and lost hold.

I wait in hope someday you realize,
How perfect and adored you are in my eyes.
With promise my affection will never grow weary.

For two who loved, but loved not quite enough,
I am grateful we can endure old reminders.
Like playthings we have long since outgrown.

It may even be that someday I shall see dreamy-eyed beauties, and not your eyes,
And never turn my head.

Copyright: Request the viewers of the Blog not reprint/ reproduce this poem on any other website, or any medium, without the express consent of the author. Copyright infringements will be viewed very seriously.

A Lazy Confusing Summer Afternoon

In the city, on a hot summer afternoon, busy streets, heavy traffic, blaring horns, and dust from the exhaust pipes were really adding to the sultry weather.

The Sun, beaming from the high skies and relentlessly making people profusely sweat, unhappy with the climate, the people were carrying forward their daily chores. The offices and the buildings, with the heavy AC ducts and ventilators were panting out of breath.

Suddenly, from nowhere came a whiff of cold air and with it dark clouds in huge bundles and covered the sky with its coolness and heavy droplets of water. The clouds gathered at a faster pace and people looked towards the sky to watch the sun being engulfed by the clouds and they were pointing their finger towards it grumbling, to say, “You deserve it.”

The rain played its mercy on the people for some time and it started moving away to another thirsty land, which required the same treatment.

Shyamala, was ignorant of all these and was working on her computer on the 5th floor of her office building in the glass cabin of hers. She could have had a wonderful view of all these beautiful weather change but, today she had pulled down all the window blinds and was immersed in her work.

She was not doing her work; she was trying to figure out in her mind the reason for a certain happening in her life today and wanted a remedy for it. She was restless and was lost in her thoughts scampering for a resolution.

She isn’t like this, she loves nature and the sight from her cabin, which opens onto the city roads, below from her glass windows or rather walls for her. She could see the busy road down, the concrete jungle spread across the city, the clouds in the sky, the sun in the corners of the window during sunset, spreading a wide range of color display than any of the top brand color televisions in the market be it either SONY Bravia or LG LCD model.

She just loves her cabin and has also decorated it fabulously; she has all types of antiques, such as the voodoo idols of South Africa, the tribal artifacts, the Aladdin Lamp, and a few others adoring the walls and desk of her cabin. She is the Sr. Marketing Manager in a company that has spread it wings across the globe and has offices in any city that you can name.

She is smart, sensitive, and an adequate leader in her field and has fought this position from a group of successful men, in her company and is known for her quick and accurate decisions that she makes. She is focused and enjoys a perfect work-life balance and has a supporting family. On her right on the desk is a family photo of hers, along with a picture of her husband. She has this picture with her whenever she goes, even on her endless trips sometimes.

When she is tried or when she is restless, she has a long relaxing look outside of her window and it teaches her many a things. The look outside her window has been inspirational, worrisome, adventurous, and fabulous, breathe taking and at times sober too. But, she enjoyed this window of her. Today, she has not taken a look outside or not leaned on the rims of the window for a consolation, but have mercilessly pulled the window blinds and kept the sun and rain, hide and seek away from her. Why is so restless with herself? Why is she ignorant of her surroundings? What has come upon her?

She gives up, can’t calm her mind and wants a break from her ranting mind. She decides to a take a walk on the streets below, lets her secretary know and leaves the cabin to take the lift, to the streets below.

Around the corner of the street is a coffee shop, which is quite empty during the afternoons. She might take a dip there or may not as she isn’t her usual self. The closed doors of the white lift indicator showing the ‘0’ as recognized and the lift opens on the ground floor.

She starts taking quick strides on the street with a worried face, relaxing a bit with the whiff of the cool air. She is mindless of the wet street with little pools of water and the mud strains getting added to the sole of her high heeled sandals. She walks past several shops and buildings, she watches the vivid colors of display on the windows of these shops, the passersby, the calling for taxi, the people running by, and the animated conversation between people, slowly her mind is absorbing things that she had closed her mind from morning… She is opening up.

The end of the road, the coffee shop, so inviting, somebody opened the doors of the shop to get out, the smell of coffee gets mixed with the air. She turns her head slowly, looks at the shop, blinks, the wordings on the glass door says, “A lot can happen over coffee.” smiling to herself, she enters the shop.

At the further end of the shop, there is a guy who is immersed in a book he is reading, in two chairs away from him there is a boy and girl lost in their world, apart from them the shop is empty. A cafe attendant in the shop walks up to her and asks her, “Maam, would you like to sit here [pointing to a small table with couches in one corner hid by the pillar structure]?”

She looks at her and nods her head, takes her seat along with the menu card. The attendant leaves her alone and walks away, she gives a sigh of relief, as the girl did not bother to stand there and pester her for an order. Settling down on the couch, she wonders why she turned up there. She had no intention of drinking coffee, looking at the menu card, reluctantly opens the card to look in, and the menu card items dance in front of her eyes and they try to tell her something of that she has almost forgotten in years.

She is just looking at them and she is being transported to the days of her life, when she was carefree and just a college girl surrounded by her friends and she used to spend some time during weekends with her friends in such a coffee shop, though in her times it wasn’t such a big posh looking shop, but a small bakery extended with a few chairs and tables spread on the pavement and it used to be heaven.

“Maam ….Maam, are you ready to order?”

“Maam…” Her thoughts are disturbed by this third call of the attendant who is standing beside her to take her order. Coming back she orders for a black coffee or espresso these days, and a glass of water.

To which, the girl looks up to the end of the shop which holds water dispensing unit, which is empty right now, and Shymala’s eyes follow this girls and she too is looking at the empty dispenser, at the same time, the pair of eyes from the book, catches a glance at them both. Her eyes meet the guys and it stays there for more than a half a minute then necessary.

Both of them turn away, and she replies, “Yes, maam will get you, but you got to wait a few seconds more, as you see our dispenser is empty and we are waiting for it to be changed. Will some plain water, do?”

“Oh, don’t bother get the water and coffee together.” Saying thus, she gets back to the menu on her hands. But, the pair of eyes tells her something else. I have seen these eyes before. “Oh yeah, you have lady, just now. You don’t remember [her mind speaks slowly]” “No, I have seen them from close quarters.” These are the same, eyes that belong to Sameer, the guy who secretly stole her heart and made had feel a soft corner for him whenever he looked at her fondly.

Ah, that is ages before, no it can’t be him. I haven’t seen him after the day of graduation. God, knows where he is right now?

“Excuse me…can I share a cup of coffee with you?”

“Sorry, I don’t entertain strangers. Leave me alone.”

“Yeah, I would. If you take a look at me [He stood there smiling, waiting for her to look at him]”

She lifts her head to find an average looking middle-aged man, with a well built and managed body, looking at her with the same slop sided smile, with the sharp dark brown eyes piercing her.

She instantly breaks into a cheer and extends her hand to greet, the man who got lost into this world and long forgotten in the warfare of life. She never remembered him for a second, till the day she sat in this very coffee shop looking at the menu card. And Lo! He is here standing and offering her a chance to share her coffee with him.

“Hey, man decades now, How come you here?” “My god, please do join. You don’t need invitation sent out, right.”

“Huh, I thought I almost needed one till you looked up at me.”

“What do you mean? What I am doing here? Do you own this city? No, I guess, you don’t. If you do, I would have come to know, coz, now I am a small Real Estate Investor and Constructor, in the city. My company is named; Eden Alliances and Constructions.”

“Wow, that’s a name. You into constructions, Hmm…It’s been a long time, Sam (this is how she used to address him, during college days), how did I remember that??!!”

They look at each other for quite a while letting the silence engulf them and the song, playing the background, “Tu hi re….Tu hi re, an ARR musical duet.”

His face has taken the effects of middle-age. His moustache has traces of grey hair, his sideburns have traces of grey hair, and hair is graying near the temples were adding beauty to his face. His clean shaven cheeks show marks of laugh lines, his eyes has taken a reading glass to it, aging inconveniences, his neatly ironed pale blue shirt, the neatly folded sleeves, the steel colored watch with his favorite black dial with roman numbers, his sleek artistic fingers, so on and on…Hmm, does the fingers still draw amazing portraits, landscapes, and beauties.

He wasn’t like this when in college, he was smart and quick witted, young vibrant. How is he, now? The same, where do I start, what do I ask him? If only, he had confessed his mind, that day?

Hello, madam, what lost in thoughts? I am still the same guy you know from college, only difference is now, I am entrepreneur and has responsibilities. I am married, have two kids, one is in 3rd standard and another is in 1st standard, in the same city. My wife’s, a darling, [pauses, he looks at her] then continues, she put up with me during my struggling years and saved me the disgrace of losing. She also contributes to my success.

Our college days were real fun, isn’t it. No worries, no constraints, no hassles, enjoyable period. What fun we had? But, you know, Shami [this is how he used to call her] life teaches you a lot of things. I struggled after finishing college for a job, started working as small time consultant and slowly built my own from scratch and during those days, got married, had kids, managed the home and the business and had been days, when I longed for a friend to share my feelings, to tell them what I went through, what trouble it is, to share a joke, to lighten a moment, to live life, and in all those moments, I thought of you.

She thinks, “Oh, my god, he thought of me, and I not even for an instant till this time, did not even think he existed. What, a smart mug I am.”

I thought of you, I thought you would bring me comfort by listening to me, I thought you would give me suggestions; I thought you would say, it will get over….Hmm…but you weren’t there? Isn’t it? Where had you been, Shami? Where were you all these days?

She was getting uncomfortable, in his gaze; she was feeling small, in front of him, she wanted to ask sorry, she wanted to tell him a lot of things, and she wanted to comfort him. But, then she thought, why all of sudden, why is he doing this now, when he should have expressed his feelings long back. Now, it is out of place and does not fit the bill.

She just controlled herself and said, “What do you mean by, where I had been. I am here, in the city for almost 10 years now, form finishing college, and been working in the Excel Marketing Corporation, as Sr. Marketing Manager.”

You see me here, in this coffee shop, today because I was disturbed and came to refresh my mind with a coffee. All of all, a surprise package, I see you here.

They are seen talking to each other in an animated conversation from the bill desk and the cafe attendant is thinking, this lady, I thought, she came alone. Huh, whatever you want happens in the city. Who cares, what, when and how….??!!! What’s in store for me? Let me take the bill out to her.

Image By: Jeeva ( An Artist Friend)

Moving out of the familiar…

‘You must follow your spouse”, “New locations always bring you new learning”, “Be open to change”…. Words from every well wisher, family and friend to make me accept the fact that I will be moving out of my home sweet home Bangalore…
 
I did follow what they said.. I followed them.. these people who have “not” moved out of Bangalore… who love to be there till the end… people who really “feel” for me. How many of us really know what it feels to be relocating to a new place, when you have spent half your life in a beautiful city called Bangalore ?…
 
I have moved to Singapore.. the land of money and perfection. I am a Tamilian, so it seemed a qualification to be in Singapore ! I am married to a very intelligent person, so  that is a qualification too.. because only intelligent people get opportunities to grow…We dont have kids- another qualification – no added encumberence to worry about ! What more can one ask for, how lucky !!!
 
I believed in all this too.. I felt lucky and blessed… till I moved out of home sweet home Bangalore. And then it came cascading on my face- my realities, my truth, my need, my comfort… my life !
 
Most of us Indians have this hope that we can escape to a rich land, make money and then decide whether we want to come back.. or not. How much we hope .. to leave India , for greener pastures… for better ways to buy bigger things in life.. and live the so called “good life”… I am understanding it now.. Now that I have come out of my comfort zone, now that I am seeing what is all this good life… what a delusion !!!
 
The corner vegetable store, the stationery shop, the home delivered medicines, the local GP visit, the neighborhood electrician and the maid….  all things in life, which we always take for granted , they dont exist in my new life any more ! The only thing that exits now is “Order”… every thing is in order… the bus comes to the bus stop at the time specified, the MRT comes to the station on time, the roads are always clean, the plants are always green, the buildings are all in rows, the trees are all in the same shape, so are the women  and the kids…. everything is in order !
 
For some one, who has lived life in chaos – dug up roads (for Metro), crazy traffic jams, impertinent autorishaws, and wild drivers.. this peace and order is almost suicidal ! Who needs this perfection….when I have to take a bus, and a train to reach a single shop that sells Indian products, when I have to take a bus and a train (because we live close to where my husband works, away from main city area, and it is expensive to own a car in Singapore) to go to a mall to buy a saucepan/ a laddle, when I have to pay 100 SGD to get an injection (that is Rs.3500/-), when I have to pay a fee of SGD 265 every month to the Government,  to own a maid, apart from her minimum wage of SGD 350… and “to save costs”, my landlord is my handy man – he fixed our toilet, fitted new bulbs, moved furniture between rooms  and drove me to buy things from the hardware store..
 
I sat down and asked myself, is it worth all this effort…. to learn better ways to buy bigger things in life… when it has become an effort to satisfy the very basic needs of our life…
 
I think of Bangalore every living moment of my stay here… how much we criticise all that we have.. how much we groan and moan.. and how much we take things for granted…
 
My love for Bangalore has only increased , with my experience. I realise that is my home.. no where else… that is my place to live.. and die.. that is mine… It is true – new locations always bring you new learning…. and I learned to love Bangalore with out criticism. I learnt to appreciate the ease of living in Bangalore and I thank God for making me a Bangalorean 🙂

To Appachaikoch With Love

On April 1st 2009, one of the greatest souls that I have met in my lifetime, departed from our lives. Kalapilil Ulahanan Cherian fondly called Cherian Vaidyar, an ayurvedic practitioner, par excellence, and my grandfather, who specialized in treating patients for snake bites, free of cost, died at the age of 82.

This was a family tradition passed on through generations. My grandfather was a simpleton and valued treating the patients from their suffering, more than the ability to pay.

The whole village loved my grandfather almost as much as we as our family did. Some of the patients who came to the funeral narrated how hopeless they were, when the met Vaidyan after the doctors of modern science had given up and how the magical hands of Vaidyar had transformed their lives.

The people of this little known village, Piramadom (nesting between Piravom and Muvatupuzha in Ernakulam district of Kerala) still remember this caring and compassionate doctor who treated many a low-income patients. Patients thronged him from all over Kerala and visitation time, even the dead of the night. Even then all of them were always greeted with a big smile and a quick joke. He worked hard to provide the best quality treatment. He was proud of the quality service and medicines he provided, and the whole of Ernakulam knew it.

The biggest testimony of love and respect was exhibited, by the people of Piramadom, when about 5,000 who thronged to see his mortal remains in his ancestral house (tharavad), on the day of his death. What was surprising was another 5,000 thronged the church and house on day of his funeral, some of them from the remotest part of Kerala, wanting to show their last respects, after seeing the obituary column of the leading newspapers.

I am remembering fondly this man who meant a lot to me in the times of silence and memories for a lifetime.

When he was still quite young his father decided that he would be the one who would help him at home and his brothers – both elder and younger would study. He picked up the family tradition of treatment for reptiles and insects bite/poisoning and during other times helped his father in the paddy fields.

Smart for his years, in 1970, he had saved almost every rupee and brought an Ambassador Car to fan his passion to drive and visit places. During his spare time he would tell us about his adventures and places he visited. Bangalore the place, I am currently settled is one of his favorites too. My only regret is that I couldn’t bring him to Bangalore before he breathed his last at the age of 82.

It was in the year 2002 when Cherian Vaidyar decided to discontinue treatment because of his failing health, non availability of medical concoctions and herbs for preparation of the medicines. Still remember how the whole village had come together and convinced Vaidyar to retract from his decision. The young and old in the village volunteered to help collect and pluck the rare herbs for preparation of the life saving medicines under the able guidance of Vaidyar. The family tradition continues to this day, with my cousin Robin Roy deciding to do his BAMS and serve the people with the same passion, that the great of Vaidyar of Kalapillil did in his lifetime.

It was sometime during this time that decision was taken that Vaidyar will ‘charge for the medicines’. Though it was much against his belief system, Vaidyar ultimately heeded to the dictate. But he insisted that it would be only voluntary contribution. I still remember the day we put up the ‘collection box’ at our tharavad. But I have gleefully noticed that when local patients who fell on hard times and short on cash, Vaidyar would allow them to buy his service, free. “You still need to take care of yourself, just pay when you can,” he would say.

But for us, his grand children, Cherian Vidyar was Appachaikoch who insisted that all grand children spend their school vacations at Kalapillil tharavad. I still remember how as children we, my brothers and cousins used to start for Piramadom even before the “v” of the word ‘vacation” was spelt. All of us still remember how Appachaikoch will let us be and have a ball of a time, during the vacations. Not a mango tree, jackfruit tree and the tamarind tree in the Kalapillil tharavad would forget the naughty six and the next generation, who grew up around them.

My earliest memories of my Appachaikoch include times when, after a long hard day at work in the fields, he would sit in his favorite living room chair and listen to his old transistor radio. He would have his toddy (kallu) or Brandy (Honey Bee being his favorate) in his hands. As a small child, I used to love to sit and listen with him.

Though he was a great Football fan with the advent of televisions, Cricket became his favorite pass time. He became a Sachin Tendulkar fan and he would root for the Indian team with such passion. “That’s it.. GOOD” he would say when they would make a good play, or “come on now, you can do it,” he would cheer when the team might fall behind. My grandmother would be in the kitchen making dinner, and the house will be filled with love and the aroma of great food.

I still remember how the oxes and ox plow was replaced by mechanised tillers to plow the fields. And as young kids how we made our baby attempts at plowing, sowing and raising crops. As we grew up the plantations had slowly been taken over by rubber plantations. But through his life, Appachan was also a very hard working farmer.

Appachan had a big heart, an amazing sense of humour and an unmovable character. He was always quick with a fun story and, when you asked, provided sound advice. If Appachaikoch told you something, it was gospel and you could take it to the bank. Like if you are hurt while playing he would console you and recite his ‘naughty’ mandram “mandra kotta vaitti kotta, anjatu path kuuli kotta, ninak vellom vannal innik endadi valicha nadi… issuff…issuff..issuff ” and all the pain would ‘magically vanish’. I still remember his excitement when my daughter Sneha, his great grand-daughter, recited his magic mandram to him. He couldn’t take the smile off his face for hours.

Dealing with probate issues after a loved one dies is always difficult, and it’s particularly difficult for the children. Am sure it is very difficult my mom Thankamani Philip, his first child and her two sisters, Ally Joseph (Chitaunty) and Valsa Joy (Kunjaunty) and uncle, Roy Cherian (Maman) to cope with the loss. Of all the people who will miss his spirit of live is my grandmother Mariamma Cherian (Ammachi).

Last 2 years as we moved about the house after my grandfather died, the memories were so strong we couldn’t brush them from your face. Even today when we stand in the kitchen where my aunt and uncle would make the famous chicken  curry (Appachan Kozhi as we call it), a specialty dish that we all would playfully fight over every holiday. They were so delicious you couldn’t have just one serving. There are fights on who gets the privillage to mix rice and eat from the vessel in which Appachan Kozhi is prepared.

My grandparents house was the family center. Every holiday, relatives from far away would always make their way to Piramadom, and to my grandparent’s house. We would gather in the kitchen area or more appropriately the cattle shed area (thozhithind erayakam), and while my grandmother listened and prepared magic dishes. Appachaikoch, Chitaunty and Maman would entertain us all with stories that were so funny our cheeks would hurt from laughing, and my mom and all of us would almost pee in our pants from laughing so hard. It was the same every holiday, and no one ever wanted it to change.

When we were very young, with Appachans blessing the tharavad water tank, used for storing drinking water, would suddenly turn to swiming pool for us cousins to go skinny dipping. The living room where grandparents would sit at night and listen to the radio is especially memorable to me. The hallway (Naddu Muri) where my cousins and I would play football with a pair of rolled-up socks, and the doors at the end of the hall becoming the makeshift goal posts. We would play for hours, and every game was for the championship of the world.

My Appachaikoch is gone now and it hurts that I won’t see him anymore. When I get lost and feel beaten down by life, I’m lifted by thoughts of courage, humility, strength of character of this great man. We will all miss the love and guidance he provided, and I wonder how much better the world would be if we could learn to live a little more like him – happy and gay. Still can remember him saying “Eighteen till I die” and he truly lived that spirit. He worked hard, had the right priorities, didn’t get lost in materialism, and cared most of all about his family. As I write this dedication to him, we are a day away from the Cricket World Cup Final.

I hope there is a heaven. If there is, when I arrive, I’m going to find my grandfather, and pull up a chair. He will be watching Sachin Tendulkar play in his television or listening to the commentary on an old transistor radio, and rooting for the Indian team. And since it’s heaven I bet India will be winning.

That’s a time, Appachaikocha……….. I love you.