79. AT HOME, KOZHIKIDE
After a long stint of stay at Delhi, now have returned back to Kozhikode, Kerala. In the first few days went to Telephone Exchange, Post Office, Bank, Gas agency, met old comrades and arranged telephone connections, ration cards, gas connection and bank accounts.
Got sufficient time to read books. While in Delhi, reading was mostly done in trains and flights while travelling. Got more time to attend to AIBDPA, the pensioners’ organization of BSNL and DOT of which I continues as Advisor. Attended to activities of BSNLCCWF, organization of BSNL Casual and Contract Workers and CGPA, Central Government Pensioners Association. Utilised the time to meet old friends and comrades, as also many new comrades.
I took membership of the Senior Citizens Friends Welfare Association (SCFWA) at the initiative of Comrades P.V.Chandrasekharan, M.Bhaskaran and T.Devi. Attended Corporation and District Conferences of the Association.
4th State Conference of SCFWA was held at Tagore Centenary Hall Kozhikode on 23-24 November 2017, to which I was also a delegate. When the agenda for election came,I was told that they have decided to elect me as an office-bearer. Thus I was elected as State President along with existing office-bearers Shri Amaravila Ramakrishnan (General Secretary), P.V.Chandrasekharan, T.Devi (Vice-Presidents) and others.
It cannot be said that I had no connection with senior citizen’s organization earlier. I was member of Senior Citizens’ Forum for some time after my retirement, which was formed at the initiative of well-known Advocate M.C.V.Bhattathiripad, Kuthuparamba, who was my cousin brother. But I was not active, since I was at Delhi and all connection was lost after some time.
All the office-bearers are having expert knowledge of the problems of senior citizens as also the social security measures being implemented by the state government and local bodies. They helped me to understand the issues. The experience of working in the Trade Union International of Pensioners and Retirees (TUI P&R) affiliated to WFTU, as a Member of its Technical Committee, helped me in my new responsibility.
Number of Senior Citizens is on the increase. While the number was around 90 crores all over the world a few years back, it is expected to be increased to 200 crores by 2050. In Kerala, there are 60 lakhs elders, more than 15% of the population. Almost the same ratio nationwide also. The longevity has increased. They require social security, health care and protection. The Left Front Government in Kerala is implementing many senior citizen friendly measures. Social security pension has now been increased to Rs. 1600 and will be paid at home. Central government is allotting only Rs. 200 per month. Centre has withdrawn the train ticket concession to senior citizens during the Covid-19 period. There is scope for better growth of the organization. In the recently held State Conference of SCFWA held at Thrissur on 11th February 2021, I have been re-elected as President.
After re-settling at Kozhikode, published two books, one on the life of Com.N.P.Padmanabhan, the well-known militant leader of the P & T and central government employees and former Secretary NFPTE, and the other on the Historic Strike of Central Government Employees on 19th September 1968 jointly with Com. PVC. A book on the ‘Glorious Strike of Central government employees in July 1960’ is under preparation, on this sixtieth year of the 5days strike.
When I shifted to Delhi in 1991, our son Shaji Narayanan was 19 years and daughter Mini Narayanan 17 years old. Shaji passed B.A. from Malabar Christian College, passed M.Sc. and got job first in Brooke-Bond Company at Bangalore and later in Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL), Mumbai. Mini studied in Malabar Christian College and passed B.Tech. from Regional Engineering College and joined an IT company in Bangalore. Both were activists of Students Federation of India (SFI) during their school/college days. Mini was vice-Chairperson of the College Union in REC. Shaji took active part in SFI and DYFI. He practiced table tennis in YWCA and got prizes several times.
Mini used to travel by bus to REC Chathamangalam along with her college mate and neighbor Miss Suja. In the evening when they get down at the bus stop in the evening, Suja’s father and NGO Union leader Com.Damodaran used to accompany them.
After my shift to Delhi, the entire responsibility of maintaining family fell upon Pankajam. Had to supervise children’s studies, attend office, prepare food etc. Hence she got a transfer from the Trunk Telephone Exchange, Manachira to a nearby office at Vellayil on Gandhi Road, which was very near to our home – five minutes’ walk. Hence can come home to take meals and return. After Shaji went to Bengaluru getting job, she had to do purchasing also. After marriage of Mini, she was alone at home.
My elder brother’s son V.A.Ravindran Namboodiri, who was Engineer in Electricity Department, stayed with family in the upper portion of the house for some years. Afterwards, Com.M.K.Prabhakaran, employed in Telephones stayed with wife Santha and daughters. Later Coms. P.K.Damodaran and V.Bhagyalakshmi, both employed in Telephones, stayed. This was helpful to Pankajam, who was alone.
As mentioned earlier, after retiring in August 2002, Pankajam shifted to Delhi and stayed with me. It was great relief to both of us.
Marriage of my daughter Mini with Shri P.Dilip Kumar, son of Shri K.M.Chitharanjan, former Additional Secretary in Kerala Government and Smt. Thankam staying at “Krishna Chaitanya” near Bilathikulam Temple, Kozhikode was solemnized on 29th May 2000 at “Surya Kanthi Mandapam”, Kozhikode. The engagement ceremony was held at “Kalpaka Auditorium”. I was very happy that respected elder members of my family, S/Shri M.C.V.Bhattathiripad, Advocate, Prof. V.A.Kesavan Namboodiri, A.P.Namboodiri, K.A.Vasudevan Namboodiri, V.A.P.Namboodiri and others attended the function.
Since I was at Delhi and agitations were going on against privatization of telecom services, I could not come very early to make arrangements for the marriage and personally invite all relatives, friends and colleagues. Even then, they came and blessed the newly married couple. Arrangements for the marriage, reception etc. were all made by our colleagues Comrades M.Balasubramanian, Balan Punnassery, M.P.Kunhanandan, M.K.Prabhakaran and others. After marriage, Dilip and Mini settled at Bengaluru, where both are employed in IT sector. Later purchased own flat. Daughter Arya Dilip has completed Xth standard now.
Marriage of Shaji with Sunila, daughter of Smt.Asha Hedavoo and Shri P.N.Hedavoo, Manager of Bank of India, Khandwa, Maharashtra was solemnized at Swathi Auditorium, Bengaluru on 14th May 2004. Reception was held at “Calicut Towers” in Kozhikode attended by close relatives, friends and colleagues. Later another reception was held at Khandwa, at the bride’s place. Both are employed in U.K. in IT sector and settled there. Two daughters, Saumya and Sneha, studying there.
After Shaji settled in London, Pankajam and myself visited them four times, every time staying for one month only, since the union work at Delhi did not allow outstation stay for more than that. Once in two years or so they will come to visit us. But the stay could not be extended due to children’s study and difficulty to get leave. Keeps in contact over telephone.
Most of the family members and close relatives are staying at Perincherry, near Mattanur in Kannur District.
All my brothers and sisters have expired leaving me alone. Eldest brother Prof. V.A.Kesavan Namboodiri passed away on 20th October 1999. I was in Rajasthan when I got the sad news. Brother Sankaran Namboodiri died on 4th January 1996, while I was in Delhi. Brother Parameswaran Namboodiri on 2nd January 2003 again while I was in Delhi. Eldest sister Parvathi Anterjananm died on 1st November 2005 and elder sister Sreedevi Anterjanam passed away on 28th March 2012. I was away on tour or at Delhi, when all of the passed away. Unfortunately could not see them in their last moment.
Sisters and brother of Pankajam, Smt. Visalakshy Amma, Kunhilakshmi Amma, Sathyabhama and Kumaran – all of the also expired during this period. We, the youngest of both the families, alone are the survivors.
Since being more than 25 years away at Delhi and fully engaged in union activities, we could not participate in marriages and other ceremonies in our families. About deaths, I have mentioned earlier – we could reach only for the cremation or afterwards. Trying to make up for those losses now, by contacting friends and relatives. (to be continued)