80. STRUGGLE FOR A BETTER TOMORROW
I have completed 82 years on 24th July 2020. It is now that I got the opportunity to look back in to past life and write something about it. I cannot say that I have recorded all important matters. I might have mentioned unimportant things also. I have tried to present a small picture of my life and experiences in the 80 installments that have been posted continuously for about three months in the Face Book.
Though past eighty, I am not in favour of complete rest and no work. Whatever is possible has got to be done. When my career as a teacher started, was thinking that I will pass higher examinations like my eldest brother and be a Lecturer in College with a bit of poetry and cultural activities. Wrote few poems and short stories, some of which were published in Malayalam weeklies. I have mentioned earlier about the prize received for poem writing in training school. But never had the feeling that they were good. Probably I started writing poetry, because my two elder brothers were poets. Once joined in P and T Department, all these discontinued.
I was interested in reading. Read all kinds of books, which were available. From High School onwards took good number of books from libraries and read. Later, reading was mainly limited in journeys – trains and flights. Used to buy books from the Railway / Airport Book Stall and complete it before end of the journey. Three volumes of III Central Pay Commission Report, purchased from Delhi, were read fully in train by the time reached Calicut. The VI CPC report was finished in two or three flight journeys. But most of the books read on these journeys were novels and short stories. Western cowboy novels interested me, of which I had a good collection. While working at Calicut, used to see lot of cinemas along with colleagues.
After appointment in P and T Department, planned to pass departmental examinations like other employees and become an officer. But the 1960 historic strike, the brutal victimization of employees by government and increasing union activities changed my mind. I still feel that the decision to be active in union and to serve the interests of the workers was correct. A major portion of my life, about 60 years, is connected with union activities and struggles. The experiences gained during these years are most valuable to me.
Sometimes during discussions with departmental authorities and management, even with the Communication Ministers, it became inevitable to take a very firm stand in order to settle the issue. It had paid dividends. But these hard bargains never spoiled the good relations with them. I know that they also understood this point. Many officers at higher levels were persons whom I knew when they were in lower positions which helped in settlement of issues. At the same time, never tolerated anti-worker and corrupt persons and exposed them mercilessly.
I am fully satisfied with my humble trade union activities. Sincerely worked for six decades with whatever limited ability and capacity I have. Have met and worked with thousands of comrades and colleagues. Had opportunity to meet and get guidance from several political and trade union leaders. Had to fight continuously with certain senior leaders for implementation of correct policies. The most severe fight was with Com.O.P.Gupta, veteran leader of NFPTE, and his staunch followers against the wrong policies being implemented as also undemocratic functioning. Severe discussions took place in committees and conferences. Court cases continued for years. Even while all these differences were going on, healthy personal relations with these comrades were maintained. Com.Gupta used to come to my quarters to discuss many issues over a cup of tea even before a few months before his death.
Before and after recognition to the E.III / E.III N and BSNLEU, my efforts to co-ordinate joint struggles and approach received good response from all unions in BSNL. It was not easy to co-ordinate more than fifteen unions/associations which have different background, ideologies and approaches. Sometimes, there were frictions and differences. Even after vacating post of General Secretary of BSNLEU, it was only because of the insistence of all the unions / associations that I continued as the Convener of the Forum of unions/associations till 2015. Thousands of workers and leaders gave full support and solidarity, without which it would not have been possible to march ahead.
I was fortunate in getting advice and guidance from many great and veteran leaders including Comrades E.M.S.Namboodiripad, A.K.Gopalan – Suseela Gopalan, B.T.Ranadive, E.Balanandan, K.G.Bose and M.K.Kelu. Their advice helped in calmly facing adversities. Red Salutes to them.
It was only with much pain that I can remember the passing away of my close relatives, friends and class mates, K.N.Narayanan Namboodiri and K.Vasudevan Namboodiri at a young age.
Comrades P.V.Nambissan, G.Soman, M.V.Sadanandan, E.Richards, V.K.Divakaran, A.P.Haridas, K.Prabhakaran, M.P.Kunhnandan, K.C.Balan Master, A.Majeed and some other comrades who were closely connected with me are no more. Their departure has created a big vacuum.
I always remember that how much difficult it was for mother to look after all of us brothers and sisters, after father’s death in 1966. She managed everything somehow. I am very sad that I could not be near her when she passed away.
Pankajam, my wife, who shared all difficulties and happiness with me, was the source of my strength. She gave support to all my union activities, even when it kept me away from home for many years. She looked after the children all those 15 to 20 years, when I was away at Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram and Delhi.
My son, Shaji Narayanan, wife Sunila and children Sauyma and Sneha are staying near London, in UK. Both are working and settled there. Children are studying. Daughter Mini Narayanan and husband P.Dilip Kumar along with daughter Arya Dilip are staying at Bengaluru. Mini is working as Director in Zinga company and Dilip Kumar as Head of Software Engineering in Philips Electronics. Arya is studying.
Eldest brother Keavan Namboodiri’s son Ravindran Namboodiri and daughters Indira and Prof. Indrani Devi, Parvathi Sister’s sons Padmanabhan Namboodiri ( expired in 1988), A.Kesavan Namboodiri and daughter Ramani , Sankaran Namboodiri’s sons Sasidharan Namboodiri, Lakshmnan Namboodiri, Kesavan Namboodiri (expired) and daughters Vanaja and Girija, Sreedevi sister’s daughters Prasanna, Vasantha, Kousalya, Indira and son Kesavan Namboodiri and Parameswaran brother’s sons V.P.Suresh, V.P.Dinesh and V.P.Ramesh with their families are staying in different places in Kerala. Pankjam’s sisters’ children and grandchildren are staying mostly in Malappuram district and some are employed in gulf countries. After returning to Kozhikode from Delhi we are trying to get in touch will all these close relatives and others, but the Covid-19 period has limited the visits.
Now I am mainly engaged with functioning of AIBDPA, BSNLCCWF and Senior Citizens Friends Welfare Association (SCFWA). I am also trying to fulfill my responsibilities as a humble worker of the Left movement and CPI(M).
I am fully confident that my wife, children and relatives and friends and comrades will be with me in future also as in the previous days. I have got great confidence in the younger generation and their success in facing the future.
Let me conclude here with happiness and full satisfaction that I have tried to contribute my mite according my ability to the family and society at large. The struggle for a better future has to continue in which I also wish to be a party as before. Thanks to all. (Concluded).
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k.subramania chary said:
Dear Comrade, It was interesting for me to have read many of your write-ups, particularly those under the caption ” Your Life and Struggles”. It is almost your auto-biography. Sketched neatly without missing even minute details. P&T trade union history will never be complete without the illustrious comrades Com.OP Gupta and Com VAN Namboodiri. Not only the content but also the beautiful English in your write-ups makes feast to many and many readers like me. These will stand a good guide and inspiration to the generations to come especially those young trade union leaders of the day. May GOD almighty bless you with a long, healthy and happy life. Thank you very much and Thank you Comrade.
——- k.subramania chary
VAN NAMBOODIRI said:
Dear Comrade, it was part of our life. Union activities were our life mission. Thank you comrade for your nice comments.