Monday, August 26, 2013

M.D. Narayana Iyer, Chapter 8

Manikutty had been in England for about three years. He had had a lot of time for introspection. He had been exposed to a lot of new ideas. He had met a number of intellectual giants. He came to the conclusion that a career in the Indian Civil Service was not for him. Politics had entered his being and he decided to join the Communist Party of India as an active member.

But he was in an emotional turmoil. He had to find the mental strength to tell his father about his decisions. His parents had already been shattered by his sister's tragedy. But the truth had to come out and the soon, the better.

Once again, Appa was devastated when he heard about his son's decision. He felt the carpet had been jerked out from under his feet. All these years, he had been consumed by one ambition, and that was that his son would one day become an ICS Officer. He had spent a minor fortune to realize this ambition, and now all his hopes and dreams had come to nothing.

Anybody else in his position would have ranted and raved, and would have threatened to disown his son. But, as I have said earlier, Appa was not anybody else. Once the initial shock wore off, he thought about the situation in a calm and dispassionate manner. "I have taught my children to think for themselves, and now my son is thinking for himself. So why should I object? It took all of Appa's inner strength to accept the situation.

He told Manikutty that as a father, he would support him fully in whatever decision he made. The extent of Appa's support is evident from the following incident. After returning to India, Manikutty plunged into active politics. He was arrested and incarcerated in Nasik jail for anti-British activities. The cells in Nasik jail were damp and caold and Manikutty cold frequent colds because of lack of warm clothing. Appa with to Nasik with blankets and sweaters for his son!

Over the years Appa followed his son's political career with great pride, even though it was a far cry from the plans he had envisaged for him.

M.D. Naryana Iyer: Chapter 7

(Most of the material for this chapter is taken from Manikutty's book, A Testament of Faith, by N.K. Krishnan).

Sesha Iyer had predeceased his son by a year, leaving a large estate. He had four married daughters and two sons, one of which was Ambi. When Ambi died, his brother refused to give his widow (Ankichi) her rightful share of the ancestral property. Ambi's earnings had also been added to the family coffers. His brother offered a pittance for this sister-in-law and her daughter. "Go to court", was the general voice of friends and well-wishers. "No - not against my sister's son", was Appa's response. "If my nephew is mean enough to deny a widow and her child their rightful share, I will match his meanness with my magnanimity. Obviously, he does not have enough faith in his ability to earn a livelihood, which is why he is clinging to his father's money. My daughter is made of different material. She is capable of earning a livelihood for herself." To a Christian friend, who urged him to sue his nephew, his reply was, "Forgive him, Father, for he knows not what he does". It is a tribute to Appa's magnanimity that he maintained good relations with his nephew until his death. "If the great God forgave sinners, then what right have I to withhold forgiveness?" was his refrain. So Appa, in addition to having to cope with the emotional turmoil caused by his son-in-law's death, had to worry about his daughter's financial future also, despite getting her married into a very rich family.

Ankichi, who rejoined college after ten tumultuous years, passed her intermediate examination with flying colours, standing first in her college, getting a university rank, and winning a gold medal - a fantastic performance by any standard. She passed her M.Sc. with first class and joined Maharaja's College, Ernakulam, as a lecturer. She eventually rose up to the position of principal of a college. SOme of the very same people who criticized Appa for sending his daughter to college later approached him for Ankichi's help with their children' college admissions.

Appa's unshakeable faith in himself and his daughter had been fully justified and his stand, vindicated.