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Saturday, October 01, 2011

R.I.P. P.T.Mathai, He of the Gentle Manners and Style

Writing this inside a train bound for Bombay. It's as I tweeted on Twitter, "from vada sambhar land to vada pao land". What curious contrasts, what differences, what serendipity. Went to Kerala briefly to attend a funeral.

As I look out (now, this minute) at the greenery floating back in one stream of liquid speed, I feel the sadness of separation and the newness of expectation. Father-in-law passed away. R.I.P. P.T. Mathai, he of the simple ways, he of the helping nature (many are the times he pulled me out of penuriousness), he of the smile and pleasant manners, he of the gentle admonitions has passed away. I will miss him. Last time we met, he had told my wife that he wouldn't be around during our next visit. I couldn't believe the news of his death. It was such a shocks as shocks can be. Nastily it struck and rendered me speechless. There was the funeral in a small church, well attended of course. There were close relatives. (It behooved me to arrange for the photography session, calling all family members forward.) There were the eulogies to a pious man who emphasised bible education for the young and was active in the Sunday School education system. He taught children how to sing and pray. Somehow, I think there is a valuable lesson in it for me. And then the body was interred, the last glimpse was had, the tears shed, the memory will remain. 

Father-in-law was a head master in a local school before retiring. His body was kept in the school for some time before the funeral for the students and teachers to pay their respects. Crowds turned up and filed past. There were eulogies by former teachers who taught with him, even an octogenarian who studied with him.

In this world of instant wish fulfillment where an eulogy is being written in a moving train, P.T. Mathai was a man apart, an enigma, a rarity, a man with a distinct identity. His was a world of struggle and willingness to share another's pains. Alas, he is no more. P.T. Mathai, may your soul rest in peace (yes, he believed in a soul and in a heaven).

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