I had collected a few events and occurrences of my growing years thinking that those would find a place in my autobiography. As my life has not yet given me enough material to write one, and these bits of memory might find a the path to oblivion, I thought of presenting these as the glimpses, of that book, if ever I happen to write!
I know, autobiography cannot be a natural destination for me, having neither been a rare specimen of my generation nor a captivating figure to make my story worthy of recall, let alone a life replete with achievements where reminiscences flourish. But I find myself singularly lucky to have had the association, be it as parents, relatives or elders, or allies, enemies, or peers, with greatly remarkable and distinctive personalities, each of them, an epic in one's own right. Rather than meeting the main character of a telling story, I offer you all a unique opportunity of listening to the uncommon anecdotes hoarded by a common man, who, as that label would suggest, likes to remain faceless.
The persona of my father was in fact a conglomeration of dormant traits, unseen skills and hidden talents, each of them more notable than all the others for its uniqueness. He was very popular with many among the ‘who is who’ of our small town and was in the habit of spending his spare time (he was accustomed to having that in great abundance, as you are going to agree!) with those gentlemen. For some reason, if he is not able to keep up with an appointment, we at home used to get reminders from almost every passerby walking along the road in front of our house that “such and such dignitary is waiting for him with many of his companions, why he hasn’t been able to join them?” If we happen to share the reason (generally some household chore, like felling a tree, clearing certain hedge or moving some heavy objects) for his delay, they were more than eager to provide us with all possible help in finishing that job such that my father could release those gentlemen from their inactive and dull reverie by kick starting some enthralling discussions!
My father cultivated a taste for dreaming big, becoming a successful businessman one day being only one of his fantasies. May be constant interactions with his associates, many of who were from fairly wealthy background, kept this dream alive. He always could be seen with a few notebooks full of project implementation details, financial calculations, other necessities and apparent profits of many novel ideas, ready to give valuable input to deliberations on any topic among these budding businessmen. Discussions of such nature being a prerequisite of any gathering among these gentlemen, it is no wonder that my father came to be instituted as an indispensable part of their group! My father also was a devoted parent, wholeheartedly involving in all the activities of his children, which on many instances and to our chagrin, went to the extent of imposing himself on us.
A few of his ideas, some that managed to take off from a rather conceptual stage and break into the foray of business, and a few others that took a significant part in forming what I am, I remember, each one of them, as you shall notice, adding one more shade to his many colored character.
Maker of Ferment
In the late sixties and early seventies, prohibition was alive in Tamil Nadu and being close to the border between the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, our small town had good market for anything which can act as a substitute for alcoholic drinks. My father proposed an ingenious scheme. Identify an expert to produce certain types of ayurvedic preparations and market the concoction as Kerala Arishtam, (a type of medicine prepared following ayurveda, the ancient Indian healing science) which is in good demand across the state border due to its not so negligible intoxicant value. This idea was well received by all, many of them agreeing to contribute monetarily, leaving the professional management with a few, of course, including my father. And they started in good earnest.