Kottayam: The district has always enjoyed a special status in Kerala – be it regarding educational standards, thriving economy or enterprising and bold people with an ever-positive attitude. As yet another new year dawns, Onmanorama takes a peep into the resolutions made by a few citizens of Kottayam – some well-known and others not so famous – for 2018 and also their observations on various aspects of life in the district.
Obey traffic rules
Recently, ‘Malayala Manorama’ newspaper carried a photo of a bike rider taking the wrong side of the divider from the Baker junction to Nagampadam. That was me. I was trying an easy way to avoid other vehicles. Seeing the photo, I realised how dangerous my manoeuvre was.
My new year resolution is to obey all road rules. I will also not pose a danger to other motorists or pedestrians.
Queens in saree
No one can match the women of Kottayam in their sense of dressing in a saree. I was born and brought up in Kottayam and acquired my dress sense from the proud women of the town who drape themselves most elegantly, especially at weddings and other functions.
I design sarees based on the taste of the women here. If Kottayam women choose a trend, it will be accepted all over the state. Several of my designs took shape based on this philosophy.
The kindness of Fr Aloysius
A life totally dedicated to the poor and needy patients at Medical College Hospital – that is Fr Aloysius, says P U Thomas, chairman of Navjeevan trust. He taught at K E College, Mannanam before retiring ten years ago. Even while in service, he used to rush to the hospital after classes, to be at the side of poor patients, offering whatever help he could – be it money for medicine, food or travel or words of comfort.
After retirement, the priest is present at the hospital full-time. His former students settled around the world send him money. Over the years, Fr Aloysius has donated at least Rs. 30 lakh among patients.
Known to follow up their words with action, the residents of the town once had among them a man whose words always came true. Called ‘Asaan’ by others, one day he saw a palm tree being chopped. A rope was tied to it, pulling the tree to the eastern side. “Oh, the palm will fall to the west,” said Asaan. In no time, the rope snapped and down came the tree on the west side. The first to flee from the scene was Asaan.
On another occasion, Asaan saw a street dog. “If it bites me, I may go rabid and run around the town barking,” he said. Suddenly, the dog turned around and bit Asaan on his leg. Asaan kept the matter to himself and took no anti-rabies injection. A few days later, rabies set in and Asaan roamed on the roads barking and attempting to bite several people. Somehow, he was taken to hospital, where the doctor said, “You don’t have rabies!!”
The Most Honest Officer
I was a young man aged 29 when I took charge as the Collector of Kottayam. The most honest officer in the district was tahasildar M V George of Changanassery, who was around 45 at that time.
During those days, the Collector’s duties included even allotting cement to build houses. However, the supply officer under him was more powerful. There was a shortage of rice and other food items. In place of a requirement of 1,000 tonnes, the district would be allotted barely 700 tonnes. This had to be distributed in such a manner that various sections of the people were satisfied. Considering his integrity, I appointed George as the supply officer and he carried out his duties in an exemplary manner.
However, three weeks later, George came to me. “Sir, I don’t want to go to hell. Send me back to my old post,” he pleaded.
I asked him to explain matters. “The bribes offered are huge. I face the dilemma of choosing between not doing wrong and not being fair.” I accepted his plea. There were few officers like him.
Every year, George sent me a card during Christmas. However, during the last three years, it has not reached me. I wonder why.
An Amazing Woman
I admire Vaikom Vijayalakshmi for her achievements in the film-music fields. Hailing from a family having no connection with these fields makes her success remarkable. Vijayalakshmi always focuses on her work, paying no heed to her disability. Her zeal and perseverance as well as the personal decisions she has taken are inspirational to the youth.
Most Beautiful Sight
The most striking image I have ever seen is that of the full moon hovering over the backwaters at Kumarakom. Its beauty is incomparable. I have no idea about how to capture the image on camera. My resolution is to record this scene.
For a Perfect Makeup
Bright look was last year’s trend. In wedding makeup, eyes were highlighted with mascara. Along with elegant dress style, Kottayam women prefer to put on matching makeup.
Last year, more weddings were witnessed where, along with the bride, the groom too had a makeup session.
Proud & Bold Women
Kottayam is the land of strong women. They speak in a language of boldness with not a tinge of false humility or pretence of submissiveness. All their representatives in fiction reflect these qualities. Nalini of Karoor, Pathumma of Basheer and Annamma Teacher of Zacharia are examples. So are the female characters in N N Pillai’s dramas.
Women here are well-known for their hard work as well as the courage they display in monetary dealings, even while maintaining a humour sense in all their endeavours.
In real life, Beena Kannan of Seematty; B Saraswathy, Karoor’s daughter and also my teacher; and the incomparable Mrs K M Mathew – Annamma Kochamma to many – come to mind. Then there is Mary Roy, who fought to ensure that women got their due.
My big father
N N Pillai was the boldest of them all. I say this not because he is my father, but his autobiography is enough proof. My new year resolution is to make a movie based on the book as well as my father’s life. Discussions have already started in this regard. If the project materialises, among others, citizens of Kottayam will also be able to watch my father’s brave exploits.