MY LIFE AND STRUGGLES – 29
MY MARRIAGE – TRANSFER TO ERNAKULAM
My marriage with Com.K.Pankajakshy, Telephone Operator, Calicut, took place on 10th April 1969, during my suspension period. We knew each other since 1964 when I came to Calicut on transfer. Her father was Shri T.Gopalan Nair and mother, Smt. K.Narayani Amma. She had three elder sisters and one elder brother. She was the youngest and darling of all.
Pankajakshy studied in Perintalmanna High School. Took her degree from Fathima College, Madurai, T.Nadu, where her father was employed in Court. After graduation, she was working as untrained teacher in High School, Koduvayoor, Palghat, till she was selected for telephone operator post. She got trained at Madras and joined Calicut Trunk Telephone Exchange on 9th July 1963.
After marriage at Guruvayoor Temple premises, a reception was arranged at Santha Bhavan Hotel, Calicut. A small house near water tank, Puthiyara, was taken on rent and started staying there. Comrades V.Kesavan, P.V.Nambissan, Aravindakshan, Punnassery Balan, Karayi Sreedharan and other comrades made all arrangements. After marriage, my wife officially changed her name to Pankajam N.Namboodiri, as was the system then.
Within few months, shifted to another house near ‘Chandrakantham’, residence of famous writer Shri S.K.Pottekkat. Shifted again after some months. This time it was to a line house at Asoka Puram, near Christian College. Rent Rs. 100. Walkable distance to exchange. Bus also available. Convenient.
Though I was on suspension, used to go to office every day, meet comrades and attend union activities. My mother came and stayed with us, which was a great help.
Transfer to Ernakulam
As stated earlier, most of suspended officials were reinstated within one year. But some were still outside, including me. In March 1970, after about 18 months, they were also reinstated, but transferred to out stations.
Coms. K.Bhaskaran Nair, K.Prabhakaran, P.K.Sahasranamam, M.Chacko (Tellicherry) and I were transferred to Ernakulam, outside Calicut Division. We were directed to report to DE Telegraphs. On 8th April 1970, we reached DET office. Shri Alexander was the DET, who was dead against union and had victimised workers with vengeance. We were asked to sit in the bench outside office room.
After about half an hour, peon came and called me. I went inside. DET was sitting with two SDEs, who were also anti-union. Despite my entry, they ignored me and continued chatting each other as if they had not seen me. I could understand their ‘disease’. I comfortably sat in the chair before them and started reading ‘Deshabhimani Daily’ which was with me.
Looking in front of them, they found me sitting and became enraged. ‘Who asked you to sit’, DET shouted. I calmly replied: ‘Having asked me to come, it is your duty to ask me to sit. You, my superior, have forgotten that, but how can I forget?’ He became angrier and shouted ‘I will suspend you’. ‘Welcome. Very convenient to me. I am getting 90% subsistence allowance. I can be at home with family at Calicut without doing any work’. DET was so angry that he could not utter any word. One SDE told me to wait outside.
Com.Sahasranamam was called next. He was asked to sit. Officers’ behaviour was normal and conciliatory. He was asked about his native place and told that after some time, he can be transferred back. They also added ‘do not mingle with Namboodiri’. Similar good treatment to others also. DET had realised that rough behaviour with union leaders will be of no use. Hence conciliatory tone.
When we went to telephone exchange to join, AE Trunks, Shri Bharathan, told me with anguish that DET had asked him to suspend me, but he will again speak to him. He was Supervisor at Cannanore while I was working there and was President of Branch Union. I was allowed to join after AE spoke with DET.
Com.Sahasranamam, Chacko and I stayed with Com.P.A.Kumaran in an upstairs room in T.D Road. Meals, breakfast etc. from hotels and exchange canteen. Many union leaders were transferred out of Ernakulam and hence more responsibility to us.
Due to anti-worker attitude and actions of administration, including forcible closure of P and T co-operative society, canteen etc., continued struggles were organised by union. Also against victimisation.
‘Kampithapal’, organ of Circle P and T Co-ordinating Committee could not be published due to financial and other difficulties in post-strike period. As maximum victimised section, E.III union had at least to issue some newsletter. Circle Secretary entrusted that work to me. The News Letters were printed in the press owned by father of Com.M.R.Rajendran Nair, Branch Secretary, who was under suspension. Editorial and important matters will be prepared by Circle Secretary. Ensured regular publication.
While at Ernakulam, could meet many leaders and active workers. One of them was Post Master Com. Abraham Kurien, who was an expert as Defence Assistant in departmental Inquiries. I could learn many important points from him. Met and acquainted with Com. K.N.Ravindranath, CITU leader, who was staying near the exchange.
After continued agitations at circle level and negotiations both at circle and all India levels, punishment transfers were cancelled and retransfer ordered. K.Prabhakaran opted to continue at Ernakulam, while Sahasranamam opted for Trichur. Others were retransferred to Calicut. Joined at Calicut in first week of March 1971.
Our son, Shaji, was born on 10th January 1972. Daughter Mini was born on 17th March 1974. Happy parents with two small children.
We shifted to a better place, comparatively nearer to exchange. It was on the side of Sree Kandheswara temple in a line room owned by Gora Family. Rent Rs. 100. 10 – 15 minutes’ walk to exchange, market nearby and pleasant atmosphere. Union leader Com.P.V.Nambissan, with family stayed in the next line room. His wife Com. Remani was working in KSRTC Office nearby. Their children Saji and Sindhu were almost of same age group as my children. All of them studied and played as part of same family. My mother was also there to help. It was a pleasant period.
The union activities went on as usual. (to be continued).
Photos 1. VAN & Pankajam 2. Pankajam during college days 3. Pankajam & Remani Nambissan with children 4. P.V.Nambissan with family 5.Pankajam with friends