Memories Of a Father
Professor T.V.Eachara Warrier, father of Rajan who died allegedly in police custody during the emergency, and a vocal human rights advocate, passed away last Thursday morning.
Rajan was a student ot the Regional ENgineering College, Calicut. He was picked up by the police from the college and never returned. Testimonies pointed to the possibility that he was tortured to death at the infamous Kakkayam camp(a perfect symbol of that totalitarian period) but the state refused to accept any responsibility for the incident.
Recently I'd come across Prof. Warrier's book "Memories of a Father" (this is a translation from the original in malayalam) which is a moving narration of the struggle he went through in those days. Most parts of the book are factual and the sequence of events described there just strike you as plain but startling truths. Therein one can feel the agony and helplessness he experienced, and the hope he carried all along, as he searched for his son fighting the establishment. And therein one can also see the cruelty, the insensitvity and haughtiness of people wielding power. The emotional parts of the book are just so very touching, perhaps because we know that it is no fiction.
Perhaps he was a bit fortunate. He was able to tell his story to the world and had millions of sympathizers. The habeas corpus petition he filed and the uproar over the issue even led to the resignation of the then home minister. So many fathers of our times would have gone through similar agony but just had no voice to speak out.
No, perhaps he was more unfortunate than the rest. He lived long enough to see the very people who were responsible for his son's untimely death not only go free but also rise to some of the highest official posts in the state. That very minister who resigned was later voted in again as the chief minister (and is still hailed as a leader). Short public memory or cruel public heart? Whatever it is, this father has left behind a book which will continue to trouble people as long as they can afford to remain a bit sensitive.
Here's the link to the online version of the book.
And below some emotional excerpts from the book. .
I felt emotional as we went around Kakkayam camp. When we entered the room where Mr. Jayaram Padikkal used to sit, I imagined him in that chair, rolling a sharp pencil in his hands. It was in this room that my son bid farewell to this good earth. It was in this room that he writhed with pain after cruel torture. What might have been in his mind during the last moments? He might have cursed; he might have cursed all the green freshness of this world before deathÂ no, it could never have been like that. How could he remember his mother who waited for him every day, his father who held him as he walked around, and all his dear ones, with a wounded mind? My eyes started getting moist in memories.
My memories are faded, but I canÂt forget many things of the past. This life trained me to go down deep into the whirlpools of human existence. I saw cruelty, and the helplessness of losing everything. I saw the high peaks of love, too. As if after a short dream, RajanÂs disappearance awoke me from the natural indolence of a Hindi teacher. It was an odyssey from then on, begging for the alms of human awareness and compassion.
It was raining heavily last night. Lightning peeped through my window in silver flashes. It might have been late; the rhythm of deep sleep was around me. I was at my daughterÂs house, where the window opens onto a pond. The water was shining in the lightning. Rajan comes into my memory now. He comes into my memory as shadows, moonlight and rain. One friend asked me, which is denserÂthe pain of the father at the death of his son or the pain of the son at the death of his father? I have no answer. My world has become empty. My sun has set. My stars have gone. Any father can cry out for his son, getting wet in radiant memories.