Achayan and Ammachy were two of the most important people in my life. I loved them deeply. And I still love them. Ammachy died on 21 October 1995 and Appachen on 24 October 1997. Ammachy was 85 and Achayan was 89.
Though Achayan and Ammachy were very much different in their characters, one thing was common, their deep love for each other. This aspect of their character gave us children the capacity to love and care for others.
Both my parents gave me the freedom to grow as an individual. They were wise enough to give us that quality to face life with an optimism, which I will always cherish in my life. My parents' principled life is what I consider the greatest contribution to my "character forming". Their memory and the many incidents connected to this memory will always give a boost to my life in all aspects. For me, both Achayan and Ammachy were great people.
My image of Achayan was an angry man in my childhood. Moreover as Achayan and Ammachy used to argue a lot on various things and since I was very fond of Ammachy, I thought Achayan was not a very good person. This image of Achayan gradually changed as I grew up. When I started working on my studies, I got to know Achayan the person as I know him in my present memories. I love and respect him as a person.
Though both of them used to argue a lot, they still used to talk to each other with care and love. Evening prayer was a must in our house and it was usually around 9 pm. Before and after the prayer all of us children used to sit together with our parents for quite a long time and listen to their conversation. We never used to contribute to those conversations but used to listen to their talk. We would get up and go to sleep whenever they had an argument in between the conversation.
After my SSLC, I joined college and was in an hostel about 70 kms from home. It was the first time I was away from home for such a long time. Achayan was very regular in writing letters, one letter every week. He was an excellent letter writer, clear and precise with all information. I remember in one of his letters, he wrote that I should study very hard and that I should get into a professional college. He wrote " Both of your elder brothers could not get into medicine or engineering. I can't send you to these courses by paying money. So if you study well and get admission on merit, I will send you to one of these courses." Luckily I got admission in Engineering and he was very happy to send me.
Achayan was a very outgoing person and took much interest in outdoor activities. He was the club secretary for a long time in Munnar. He was very active in the local church activities. He was also very particular in visiting all his relatives’ and friends’ houses regularly. He continued this after his retirement until he was too old to walk. Because of this genuine friendship and concern, he was a very respected man in his locality.
He never smoked or drank alcohol. But he really enjoyed eating. After I joined the merchant navy, whenever I came home, he always asked about the food on the ship. I would joke about this to my brothers and sisters by telling them the way he used to ask. Now also when we get together, we talk about this in a joking way. He loved his food!
I joined the merchant navy after my engineering. Whoever I came home on my holidays, I used to have long conversations with my father. He had a very good memory and would tell me about all our relatives and his early life in Munnar. I used to ask about his college days, about his relatives, his work experiences. He was very happy to talk about all this. He knew all the connections between the relatives very well. He was one of the best in knowing all the connections. I regret that I did not take any notes then because I have forgotten many of the things he told me.
On the whole Achayan was a good and principled man. He was a broad-minded man with love and concern for others.
Childhood memories of Ammachy are more clear and vivid. I was very fond of her though a little scared too. I went to school when I was four and a half years old. The first day in school itself I decided I would not go the next day. So I hid myself the next day. Ammachy didn't say anything and school was discontinued. After a few days a tuition master came to teach me. That too was for one day because the next day I disappeared. I do not remember Ammachy scolding me for all this. But now when I look back I do not remember anything of the next school year when my studies started. Yet she made sure that I would go to school next year at age five and a half.
Ammachy was a quiet, intelligent and realistic person. She knew what her children were doing and she knew how to deal with it much earlier than a normal person. She dedicated her life to her children and she took it as her duty. Ammachy may not have been as broad minded as Achayan but she was far more sacrificing as far as the family was concerned. She was so observant about us children that when I came from college after about three months, after observing me for 2-3 days, she would accurately ask me what was bothering me or what was making me happy.
Till I finished college, I had more love and respect for Ammachy than Appachen. But when I became more mature, I think I could make out their differences in individuality and character and could love and respect them almost equally. Achayan used to say that there should always be love among brothers and sisters. And he proved that in his life. So whenever I get angry with my brothers and sisters, I remember his words and it encourages me. Ammachy was an honest person. When we were young she taught us not to tell lies and that effect is with us till today, I think.
So though I would never say that my Achayan and Ammachy were faultless, I will always keep them in my memory as sweet and guiding in my life.