Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dr. Thomas Varghese Kalekattil – a man to ride the river with

One of the problems with old age is the trauma that comes with the passing away of friends. Reminiscences about the person who is no more – the good times together, shared moments of difficulties and happiness – cascade through the mind. These thoughts are mingled with the awareness that one’s time is coming too, may be soon, in any case not too far away.

I have been battling with such an ordeal from the 9th of this month. That was the day on which my very good friend Dr. Thomas Varghese Kalekattil (affectionately called ‘Aniyankunju’ or just ‘Aniyan’) passed on. He was 82. I was struggling to write this for the last eight days or so but could complete it only today.

Aniyan belonged to the famous Kalekattil family at Vallamkulam near Tiruvalla, Kerala. He was not only a reputed surgeon but an excellent physician as well. He was the chief of the KTCM Hospital owned by his family. I had made a mention of him and his hospital in an earlier post, Human nature: Potters save a life. For a long time he was our family doctor.

The best way to describe Aniyan is to use a phrase from the old Wild West days – a man to ride the river with. I could not find a proper definition, but it means someone you can depend on through thick and thin, a person who would stand by you no matter what.

There are so many memories of Aniyan that have crammed my mind these few days. He was keen on shikar. I had accompanied him on shooting trips on a few occasions, mainly to the large cardamom estate of our mutual friend, late Mathew Marattukalam, at Nelliampathy. Aniyan was there too at the event I described in my post Big game hunting: A tiger shoot .

When my elder daughter Rosemary received her First Holy Communion at SHY (Sacred Heart’s, Yercaud) some of my friends, including Aniyan, came along too. We had booked the entire Panchayat Guest House (there were no hotels at the remote hill station those days).

One day while we were there a car came to the guesthouse around noon. The visitor wanted to spend a few minutes there to have his lunch, which he was carrying. Someone objected, but Aniyan invited him to join us. We even offered him drinks, which was declined.

The man thanked us when he was leaving and also introduced himself. He was the Sub-Collector of Salem. Well, those were prohibition days in Tamil Nadu! (See Short Fiction: A Vodka Story). We could have been in deep trouble if the official had taken a different view.

I could go on writing about Aniyan. But it would make this post too long. It is sufficient to say that he was one of the finest men I have met in my life. And, for the matter of record I must add that, among other things, Aniyan was a Promoter Director of Apollo Tyres Ltd.

So long, Aniyan. See you later. Well, may be.


Nebu said...

I was under the impression that associations with him started after his son Thomas married Roshan; never realised that many of our relatives knew him before.

I attended his funeral and many of his friends who were there were saying what a jolly good fellow he was and that he enjoyed life to the fullest.

Thomman and Roshan have since moved to Trivandrum.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Thank you Nebu. I have known Aniyan for decades.

Ashvin said...

Mr.AT, morbid as it may seem, my thoughts (at my age!) have already started turning towards the Great Beyond. I could sense your emotions when you wrote this.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Ashvin, it is not fair to yourself to think of the Great Beyond at this age.

Yes, you sensed my emotions right.

lali said...

i heard of dr.anian uncle's passing just recently.dr.anian uncle was a dear friend of my father t.thomas,currently residing in trivandrum.
my youngest sister was born at dr.anian uncle's hospital in '62.when i got burned i was treated at the same hospital.
when my mum passed away in'86 thankamma aunty was a hectic time and i just saw her at the funeral.
i am so sorry to hear of uncle's passing.i hope thankamma aunty is in good health.
if anybody reads this please convey my deepest sympathy to the family,specially to thankamma name is lalitha.i am annie and kunju's daughter[kuwait]