Every time a girl child was born, Antony and Thresiamma wished that the God Almighty had given them a boy as well. However, the couple was not disappointed at all when Thressiamma gave birth to a girl the tenth time too. They believed that their kids were the gift of God and raised them with love. A few of their relatives couldn’t help but wonder whether Antony and Thressiamma would be able to financially support the huge family. As the couple dreamed of raising their kids well and educating their 10 girls as much as they want to study, Antony had joined saving schemes each time a child was born to them.
Antony is now 95 years old and the ‘savings’ that he had made about half a century ago have now made him a man rich with love. With 88 members, including his 10 girls, sons – in – law, grandchildren and great grandchildren, Antony’s family has grown immensely. Every year the daughters gathers at their ancestral home to celebrate their beloved father’s birthday.
“I am extremely fortunate to speak to you today, especially at this age because I am someone who miraculously escaped from death 68 years ago,” says PC Antony, resting on his favorite easy chair, at the verandah of his Chazhoor Chandiveedu house in Mulankunnathukavu. He was referring to the Pathiramanal boat tragedy that happened in 1950. Antony and his friends were returning from Thiruvanathapuram, where he gone to visit a Bishop’s house. The group boarded a boat from Alappuzha to Kottayam. The boat caught fire near the Pathiramanal Island and 14 people died. Antony and his three friends were saved as they were able to hold on to a lifebuoy. The nonagenarian, with a smile, says that since he was saved from death once, what followed in life were all ‘bonuses’ for him.
Wished for a boy
Antony married Thressiamma on 26th January 1947, soon after he got appointed as a teacher at the Tirur St. Thomas High School. When their first daughter Mariyamma was born, the new parents wished for their daughter to become a nun when she grows up. Mariyamma fulfilled her parents' dream as she ordained as a nun, choosing Sister Mary Asha as her new name.
Jessy, Annie, Pauly, Josie, Mercy, Sophie, Silvy, Leena and Princy are the other children born to Antony and Thresiamma. Princy followed her eldest sister’s footsteps and became a nun and received the name Sister Praisy. Each time a girl child was born to them, the couple’s heart longed for a son as well.
Antony had realized that his big family cannot be supported with only his salary, which was just Rs 45 then. When each daughter was born, he became part of a savings scheme by paying Rs 100. He decided to open a press to find an extra income. Except his youngest daughter, Antony had enrolled all his children at the school where he was working as a teacher.
He was the headmaster of the school from 1965 to 1979. Antony, a literature enthusiast, had even published a literary magazine for the students. He was able to marry off his daughters using the money from the saving schemes that he had joined years ago. The old man watched, with lots of happiness and satisfaction, his family grow. He was thrilled when number of the family members reached 94. However, now the family has 88 members after a few of them including his wife Thressiamma died.
Writer at 92
Until he turned 92, Antony was just known as a retired teacher. However, now he is also known as a writer. Two years ago, he wrote and published the book titled ‘1001 Saahitya Prathibakal’. It was an idea that he executed at his school, years ago, which inspired him to publish the book. Antony used to read a note, every morning at the school assembly, about a famous literary figure. He had kept all these notes safe in his almirah. After retiring when he found all these notes, Antony kept thinking about publishing it as a book. Finally, after working hard for years, he published the ‘1001 Saahitya Prathibakal’. Noted writer Sara Joseph, who was Antony’s student, wrote the foreword for his book. It was Antony’s grandchild Sherin Alwin Perumaatil who copy edited the book and collected the pictures which were published in it.
Antony’s family becomes harmonious and complete when all the members are gathered together. Every month, one of his daughters and their families would visit Antony at his home in Tirur. If anyone can’t come to him then the nonagenarian would go to their houses, enquiring about their well-being. Antony has an incredible memory and remembers the name of even the youngest member in the family. He would call them by their names when he talks to them. The entire family gathers at their ancestral home for Antony’s birthdays.
Healthy and active, Antony would talk about anything, sitting on his favorite easy chair on the verandah. He has excellent memory and eye sight even at this age. He wakes up at 5.30 in the morning and insists on reading at least two news papers, that too without wearing a pair of spectacles. He would spend the daytime mostly reading history books. Antony, in a funny tone, says that diseases would hesitate to affect his healthy body in which dwells a happy and cheerful mind.