மாதா, பிதா, குரு, தெய்வம் Matha Pitha Guru Deivam. Next to amma, appa is the most important person in our life. He was a very simple and nice person. Even though he had stromach pain for so many years, he brought up all of us well with his single earnings (of course with amma's able efficiency) and made Anna IPS, Santhanam IAS and Raghu a bright engineer.
In Pollachi, our house was right behind Appa’s office. Amma made sure that we were very quiet during the day since Appa was at work. I remember one detail: whenever Appa came back after work, we all had to stand up as a sign of respect, no matter what we were doing. Amma insisted on this.
Appa never had interest in learning many commonplace things. Once, Appa’s boss, the Superintendent of Post Office came to our house. He wanted to listen to Cricket commentary. He asked Appa to turn the radio on. Appa didn’t even know how to turn on the radio! But he managed very cleverly. He called one of us and said, “Konjam commentary vai ma.” We switched on the radio.
One day, when I was in seventh standard, I was asked to give a speech on Patriotism the very next day. So I asked Appa for his help. He quickly wrote an essay for me. I immediately memorized it. I still remember how it started:
You all know how much we love our place of birth, home of childhood and the home of our parents. This is because we are bound to it by some spiritual unknown tie. Patriotism is only an extended form of this – a tie embracing one’s country as a whole.
In that essay, he quoted the US Predisent Abraham Lincoln. 'With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in.'
All of us (Chooda Akka, Rukkua Akka and me) were very surprised. We did not know that Appa had so much knowledge. After I memorized the speech, Appa also taught me all the right modulations. I went and gave the speech the next day. Many teachers applauded it and and even today I remember that speech which contains Lincoln's and Gandhiji's quotations.
During my wedding, Appa was in very bad health. He had vomited blood and was in the ICU just days before. For the wedding, he came over from the hospital. He was very weak, and had to be seated in an easy chair all the time. Anna was the one who performed all the wedding ceremonies in Appa’s place. He got permission from doctors with many objections and did கன்னிகாதானம் kannikadhanam and got admitted again after a few hours. When some of my colleagues came over, Appa raised his hand from the arm-chair. (He was too weak to get up and greet them.) But they felt very offended that the father of the bride had not greeted them. Only later someone told them that my father had been really weak and had come straight from the hospital. When they found out, they came to me and apologized saying that they had mistakenly thought he had behaved in an arrogant manner.
For my wedding, some colleagues had presented two tumblers with gold plating. Somehow, Appa didn’t realize the value of this gift, and he had put it away in some drawer. Several days later, someone mentioned that it was a valuable gift. So we went and looked for it and found that the two tumblers were made of pure silver.
Celebrating his 100th birth anniversary is really a pleasure for all of us. Though I am thousands of miles away and cannot attend personally, my thoughts will be there.
1st July 2017
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