Saturday 3 December 2011


Thousands of children might have written to Santa Claus asking for gifts all these years  ..It is not a surprise .But when such a letter ,unstamped is replied by Santa could be surprising. Read....

                                                               Badge from Santa

It is December once again .Month of Christmas. My mind goes back 25 years or so....what happend in a December long back..

When our children – Vinay and Vishal – were toddlers  doing their kindergarten/early grades, in one December in late eighties, Geetha (my wife) and I asked them to write a  letter to Santa Claus .They have to explain what sort of gifts they expect from Santa Claus for Christmas. The primary intention was to keep them positively  engaged during the holidays prelude to festive season , apart from the fact that this will help them to have creative ideas and communication skills..Naturally being a matter of gifts of their choice ,they responded very well. Vinay  after  discussing with Vishal wrote on a pad for both of them since Vishal had hardly started writing sentences. When Vinay asked the address of Santa to scribble on the envelope – I was not prepared for that - I just told something fancy which came to my mind at that moment – Santa Claus , “ Frost Villa”, Green Land !

                          Letter from Vinay and Vishal (one of the previous year's)

Those were pre internet days and all communications were in letters, hard copies sent across the world through postal services.  In order to impress the children I  kept that envelope(unstamped)  along with other letters and Christmas cards. These material to be posted were picked up and kept in the dash of the car in sight of the children as I drove them to school, as usual.

Later the ‘modus operandi’ was that before I posted  these letters/cards in the post office, I took out their envelope and kept it safely in a cupboard  which they don’t have a reach. Two or three days prior to Christmas , Geetha and I used to purchase what they wanted, kept it in the boots of the car . On the eve of Christmas ,in the night when the children were asleep ,the gifts were taken out and kept near the small Christmas tree we had those days….In the morning the children were shouting with surprise and joy seeing the exact gifts they wanted !!!

This episode went on and on for few years, although at times the children had  raised their own doubts for the existence of a Santa .But the real surprise was reserved for us ,the parents  . When they got a reply from the Santa Claus !!!

                                                           Letter from Santa

Once ,in  December 1992, I forgot to take out the envelope before posting. Instead I posted it along with other letters in the post box. I realized my folly as soon as it was dropped but did not think much about it .I was sure either it will be ignored by the postal authorities or returned notifying us for lack of stamps..In any case the address was fictitious – Frost Villa in Green Land !

 While in the office one day I got an envelope addressed to Vinay and Vishal  clearly marked from Santa Claus of Green Land !!! When opened I could find a printed letter   and a Christmas badge !! One can imagine the surprise and joy of children (and also Geetha’s) when this was delivered to them. To this day this is kept safe in the house.

Of course on close examination it was found that the envelope for some reason ,although unstamped, went to Green Land and delivered to Santa Claus Foundation which was there. I presume one of their  activities was sending small gifts to children upon their requests – may be an information for parents of toddlers today as well. Small incidents can bring happiness in life………

                                                 Envelope addressed to Vinay and Vishal

Monday 14 November 2011


Thavo ,my only elder brother is no more. He died recently at his age 64 . He was healthy and hearty all along and hardly visited a doctor all these years.But he was detected of having advanced stage of cancer of lungs six months prior to his demise !

Our relationship was unique.More than a brother he was an intimate friend.From childhood to this age we continued to have this warmth in between.Whenever we visited India during the last 27 years (at least once in a year ,if not more) I  and my family used to live with his . In spite I had houses and flats of my own ,we continued the status until I became 60 and my children became grown adults!!

We had common personal friends from childhood  . We used to interact very well and see that mutual support is in place whenever it is required. He did his best under his circumstances and I did under that of mine. That sums up our relationship in one sentence.He had special relations with my and my sisters children .They used to call him "captain" as he wished.We used to talk everything under the sun . Obviously in many situations we had difference of opinions but always we learnt to 'agree to disagree' and respect each others view!

I had really bad days and weeks after his death. If not busy officially, naturally my mind used to drift to him and our years together. I used to have new type of 'mental agony' which I never had in life before. On one of those days while jogging in the night after office hours, I thought of writing an eulogy- a tribute for him and for our friendship. I did not know how to go about it.

Two days prior to his death he went to coma.He never regained conscience thereafter. I thought the best tribute for him will be 'informing' him of those two days in detail. I imagined of an email   which I would have sent him after attending 'his funeral ' had he been alive!!! Decided to create a blog and post it for future . My first blog!!!
amma,geetha, vinay,vishal,anu,chedithiyar,thara,sabu,isha,sunny,sunish,anthu,wilma

Dear chatten,
As a practice between us all along , I think it is only appropriate to narrate to you what had actually happened after you reached a stage where doctors at Lakeshore Hospital decided to move you from ICU to a private room. This is  my version and I am taking the liberty to cc this mail to all of our dear immediate family members ...

14 OCT 2011, Friday
 I get a call from Vinay at 6.00 PM (Doha time 3.30 PM). The message was clear. The doctors have told him  and Isha that you may slip to 'coma' soon ,prelude to few unconscious days which may  follow before you reach the end. He advised me to inform Thara to take action suitably. I did call them soon. Asked Sabu to put her in the next flight available, whenever it is. Sabu promised that he would.Thara sounded ready to face such a situation...

15 OCT 2011,Saturday
Ramani chedithiyar and Isha are around you in turns in the hospital ,while Purushothaman (yes, the fatty bystander) is all the time in the vicinity. Thara was picked up by Vinay from Puthoor on her arrival in the evening  . You could meet Thara in your good senses for the last time. ("Appa was pressing my hand hard unlike anytime before " she told me later. The nurse wanted to make sure that you recognized her correctly . She asked you " Do you know who has come to see you ?" Yes, my daughter , you answered. "Do you know from where she has come?" It seems the nurse wanted to test your IQ rating at that time .You answered " Malaysia" ! )
Soon you started drifting to sort of ' not very conscious ' state.

16 OCT 2011 ,Sunday , Before 8.15 PM
As advised ,Thara tries to contact our achen to take him to hospital for a prayer. Unfortunately he was not available in none of the land or mobile tel numbers . Upon information so ,Samuel sar (our area prayer group senior member) volunteers and he was taken to your room in the  hospital for the prayers. Your breathing is getting more difficult.
 Vinay calls me at 5.30PM (Doha time 3.00PM) .He advises us to catch the night flight home. Unfortunately I had an important  meeting which could not be cancelled in the office. It was a meeting with a delegation of CEO/senior executives from Al Faraa Group,Dubai which is looking for a tie up with us .It was arranged a month earlier . I attend the meeting (My God ,this was too much for me to take!! Geetha is aware of the situation and in touch with all of our available family members over tel. I was briefed by her of the exact situation when I got out of the board room).
Vinay calls me again. Purushottaman has called him from hospital . Ramani chedithiyar and Isha are in the room and suspects that any time the breathing may stop. He along with Anu is pushing for Lakeshore .....

8.15 PM

You have left this world at this moment officially.

After 8.15 PM
Action commenced from all to meet the situation.
Vinay,Anu and  Ramani chedithiyar are in the hospital ....
Isha at Mundakal.
Amma and Thara are in Puthoor house along with Tharun,Liya and Leroy.
Sunny is in train already which will reach Kochi early morning.
Sabu in Brunei but in touch with all...
Vishal will reach Kochi in the morning flight.
Anthu is trying to catch a flight .
Sunish ,Wilma (and Pachu) decides to take their car since no other option was not there then.(Their new car developed engine trouble on the way and they had to be pretty slow ,I was told later)
Called up Vinay few times to tell what to do since he was the only male member available in the immediate family at that time....but within 1 hour or so I knew that he is on the job... in control..It was decided to have your funeral next day ...Body will leave Puthoor at 3.30 PM. Called up Nebu but he was not picking up. Then tried George , who promised to take action. Nebu returned the call ...already he knew the sad news...he was crying loud over telephone!!!
Trustee of our church agreed to me on my request that a tomb will be made available to you.
Geetha and I boarded the 3.30 AM flight....

17 OCT 2011, Monday
Vishal joined us in the airport .We reached Puthoor around 10AM. A pandal was there in the front. Everything seemed to be in order...You are lying in the central room in the mobile mortuary. You looked well and handsome - as you have been  always -..wearing specs. You were dressed up in white 'kasavu' dhothi ,shirt and a shawl !(Same dress you would have worn if you had attended Vinays wedding but for the shirt. Shirt I was told later ,Gikku bought in the night on request of Vinay).
A group was singing devotional songs with occasional breaks for reading out bible .It was an excellent exclusive show of Mundakal team headed by Sunny. Very nice of them to have shown their warmth for you and all of us, chatten.
People were coming in and few going out ......
I saw a lot of our neighbours.(Later I was told that our neighbours did a wonderful job at the right time. They all came when amma and Thara  were only available, to clear out the furniture and make the house ready to receive your body from hospital. I have to be honest- credit for good neighbourly relations goes to our amma and chedithiyar than you or me)
All of our friends  are there.(Sajan came in first followed by all of our friends and helped as much as possible ,I learnt)
I could see most of our relatives  in the house .(All of our relatives cooperated very well through out .None was left out in this matter- Puthoor, Pengamuck, Mookencheril, Pulikkottil, Manjali, Kattady,...cherai group, Mookencheril kochi group, more or less all who attended Vinays wedding attended this function a surprise -Hima !!)
Surprisingly I saw Beena, Anu's amma busy moving around in kitchen/dining. She was busy attending to needs of visitors serving water, bread /light food etc  and quietly  attending to all  needs in the kitchen!! (Later I learnt that Pauly was also there in  the night helping out Vinay to make necessary arrangements and in the house attending to various needs of the hour. Anu's both aunts and Dr Sony also came.  Chatten,do you remember what you commented loudly once we came back to Puthoor after meeting Anu and her family on 25 dec 2010 for the first time? -" .... a cultured family"....
Whenever you said good of Baby Marine people I never expected this far. They were all there .Father and both sons and their wives..
Tharun is more or less in his room .Sitting quietly.
Liya and Liroy are silent ,sitting around Thara.

1.45 PM.
Time to shift you to coffin (I was told that  Vinay and Anu went and ordered the coffin)and place in the pandal . Achen came soon picked up by Sunsh. Anthu came in.
Sojanchatten tells me to take a few photos ..just for records in case it is required for any civic rules.Vishal takes the snaps.
 More and more people are pouring in ...
Your St Alberts school old boys assn guys ..
St Alberts college friends ..
Old Tata Oil Mills club gang ..
A lot of exporters ..(I think Britto gave them the news.Britto was quite emotional.He was telling me how you,chedithiyar and Vinay visited them 3 months back when he lost his father, in spite of the fact that you were undergoing treatment which you never told him nor he was aware.).
I saw a Jap coming in and spending some time.
Expot Inspection Agency, past  colleagues including Joseph
Baby Marine management and staff
Some of the old workers whom you have helped..
Your local ayyappankavu friends ..
Vijayan of the nearby cycle shop (Yes,the same Vijayan uncle of our children),Pillachen,Jibu....
Vinays local close friends
Church mates/Area prayer members (those who were not already present)
Few related to our friends  in  Doha
More and more neighbours...
Deshabhimani Puthoor neighbours
Quite a large crowd.....from different walks of life
One person came to me and introduced. He is your college mate but have not met since 1970 ! Saw the press release in the obituary columns in the newspapers.(Chatten,one of our cousins has added 'maramath' to puthoor in the press release!!!!Ha Ha Ha..)

2.15 PM
Achen starts the prayers.

3.15 PM
Achen announces that the 1st stage prayer is over .2nd will be in the church and the 3rd in the cemetery. Time to say good bye at Puthoor house . In spite of my efforts not to be emotional ,the 'brave man' in me drains off..I might have sobbed loud !
Ambulance comes to our gate.Coffin is picked up .Pallbearers are mainly our next generation boys - Sunish,Anthu,Vinay and Vishal-with supports from me ,Sunny and some of our friends. Ramani chedithiyar,Thara,Geetha and me gets into the ambulance.Thankachen jumps in.
Poulosekutty joins the drivers cabin. We are off....

3.30 PM
Your body is brought to church ..Prayers followed .
One church office bearer - I  cant place him- as if expressing condolences did speak something 'inappropriate' for the occasion. Achen in his speech tried to correct his comments.(I wanted to take up this matter with achen/trustee later.But next day our amma told me " we should not take up these issues. There will be people like him at times who finds pleasure in making such negative comments. Ignore and let him be happy".
Achen announces that there will be a prayer at Puthoor on 20 Sept 6.30 PM (after consulting me).

4.10 PM
Again we are in the ambulance on the way to cemetery. Near the cemetery we got stuck in the level cross for nearly 12 minutes . You are looking if in a deep sleep ,not to be disturbed.
Finally we reached the spot. Reasonably good crowd was there also. Prayers followed....I remembered our appa .
Your body was laid to rest in the tomb allocated for us -No 63. Yes, 63 RAVIPURAM is going to be the final destination of all Puthoors of our  immediate family hereafter!!!

20 OCT 6.00 PM 
Prayer is arranged at Puthoor . Achen,neighbours ,area prayer members,our close friends and few relatives (those who came voluntary)are there -around 70. Thara took the initiatives to make the arrangements .
PM chacko uncle delivers the special prayer . Achen speaks for a bit long. Our Sunny made an excellent speech on the occasion- about you, our transparent warm relations within the family,how you are a 'captain' to our next generation....I made a vote of thanks . (Geetha told me later that I was not loud enough .What I did not tell her was that I was in a state then ,desperately controlling myself not to outburst with my emotions!!)

During the last six months , while you are not well,all within our immediate family members did everything possible to face the situations boldly, to give the supports required ,interacted well to achieve what is possible humanly. Response of our next generation was extremely good and ideal. Having said this I have to specifically mention about two persons -Vinay and Isha.
Vinay did a fantastic job -right from the start till the end- in spite of the fact that he himself is a busy person and he had two important mile stones of his life during this period-his betrothal and wedding.
Isha was just superb. She rose to the needs regardless of her own problems back her home. We can be proud of our sister!!!
Last time when I left back to Doha , in spite Vinay's marriage is well conducted , my mind was disturbed because you were suffering..chedithiyar ,amma and all in the immediate family were undergoing hard time....But this time when I returned my mind is not disturbed ...sad but not disturbed because you are not suffering anymore....
 The stormy days are over now. Sun will rise again. Spring will follow suit. Everything will be back again if not better...except that we all will miss you, forever . We shall always cherish the fond memories .....


                                              Our last photo together  - 6 May 2011

                              One of our earliest photo together. Clicked by our appa in 1952 !!
                                 Chatten is 5 years old , at the steering wheel and me 2 years!!!


                               A musical dedication to you....chatten..... courtesy to                                                                                     Dont cry for me....




Writing about the end of own life, that too after knowing that it could happen any time is hard to write for anyone. I am not an exception. ...