Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Grandfather and Grandmother

Here's my contribution to something which I won't name here:

I have fond memories of my grandfather P.C.Mathew who was an important man in the village and surrounding areas. He had a job in a plantation run by the British, he dressed in British tropical clothes which included coat and a sola hat, and he even spoke English. He was a writer. A writer meaning a writer of accounts, nothing literary.

When there was a Kavi Sammelanam in the village school and prominent among them was the Great Poet Mahakavi Puthencavu Mathan Tharakan, he would have a place on the dais beside the poet himself, being his cousin. He was also a well-read and cultivated man. He had a good collection of books which I would hungrily devour as a child.

He built for his family – since he was away working in the estates in the Nilgiri Hills most of the time – a palatial house on a hill with British architecture, a sloping roof, a large verandah, columns, and stuffed deer antlers on the walls. This was the first such house in the entire region. He was known to be a very shrewd man. When he came on holiday all his children were dressed in their best by my Grandmother, a very efficient and headstrong woman. He had a big family, six children. He liked to see his family enjoying the best and wanted them to progress in life like him. Grandmother was very wise in money matters. If Grandfather sent anything less than his usual contribution to the household she would reject the money order and ask the postman to send it back to him. Thus insulted he would send back the correct amount with a lot of apologies.

But my grandfather died a lonely and disillusioned man. His eldest son joined the British forces fighting in World War II in the eastern sector – in Singapore to be exact – without his permission. Nothing was heard about him after that. He was reported missing. This was perhaps the worst shock of grandfather's life. His great regret was that his son hadn't asked his permission before joining the army. His life declined after that incident, which affected his wife, too. Grandmother also went into depression and died without seeing me – the much-awaited heir – who would carry the family's name forward. Mention must be made that all my older siblings were girls and they were eagerly awaiting a boy who would be, sort of, be the heir apparent of the family.

Will post here if something comes of this contribution.

1 comment:

chhaya said...

@john...This was a simple yet wonderful tribute to ur grand parents...u must have been so nostalgic when u wrote this piece....because it comes across as something written by a child....