I owe this entry to a wonderful piece of writing by my cousin Goyo in a book entitled ‘ A Hundred Years of Excellence’ which our cousins the Bharathans brought out to commemorate the hundredth birth anniversary of their Dad and my maternal uncle Bharathettan . This nicely brought out book has several lovely titbits about our Grand parents and the Thiyya community of which we are a part off .I will be sharing these tit bits almost verbatim as the writing principally by Goya is just terrific .Hats off Goyo.
So here’s the first piece about our grand parents O Govindan and Deviki.
‘Dr O Govindan who hailed from the illustrious Poothatta family was a decorated doctor in the British army and fought for the British as far back in history as the North West Frontier wars………… Dr Govindan was sent home to India from Burma after he was shot inn the leg in battle, and was incapacitated from active war front duties. The story is that he fell very ill on board the ship, and at one time they even contemplated giving him a burial at sea But at the last moment he sat up in bed and proclaimed that the sea could wait .He came back to Cannanore, was proclaimed a war hero and lived to a ripe old age, and died full of honours. He and my grandmother built Krishna Nivas and moved into the house in 1939.
Dr Govindan,lived like an aristocrat. He used to go about in a rickshaw, which in those days must have been the equivalent of a Cadillac. He spent most of his time during his later days in the upstairs portion of Krishna Nivas, which he furnished to perfection with brass top tables and over stuffed sofas. He covered the compound with foliage consisting of guava, mango, suppota, jumblam, green lime and coconut trees nestling among neem, bilwa and silk cotton trees in the compound of Krishna Nivas.
Dr O Govindan died in 1945, our grand mother Devaki, Ammamma as we called her, lived for many years after grand dad passed away. At sunset, when the sacred lamp was lit and brought to the veranda of Krishna Nivas, all of us had to sit on the wooden benches, facing east, and chant the Rama Nama and a variety of mantras and prayers under Ammamma’s watchful eyes and attentive ears. Any attempt to quietly skip over the prayers and / or its stanzas was immediately detected by her and the punishment was that we were made to chant the prayers from the very beginning. After dinner she would go to bed and one of us was selected to sit beside her bed and massage her feet till she fell asleep.
One day, browsing through the attic of Krishna Nivas I came across some priceless artefacts which I quietly purloined … one of these is a Wilkinson sword, which must have been part of Dr Govindan’s ceremonial uniform. It has been with me for almost 40 years and the Wilkinson is still without a single trace of rust in spite of the salt heavy atmosphere of Cochin situated as it is on the back waters. I also have withy me a china tea set in green with red roses, the pieces of which are literally feather light. Some decanters and delicate wine glasses speak about his good taste and I suppose about his life style. I also have with me some priceless medals won by Dr Govindan, medals bestowed on him for valour and courage in battle.
So this then is a brief account of my grand dad and grand ma through the eyes of Goyo .