A few weeks back, my mum twisted her ankle while walking and got two of her bones fractured. She underwent a surgery and is now at home recovering. I felt I could be of some help to her as she recuperates and KT’s presence would cheer her up. So KT and I endured an adventurous bus journey and arrived in Tanjore.
This is the first time we’re visiting my parents ever since their move to Tanjore. Growing up in BHEL Township, a beautiful, green corporate residential campus, I have always dreaded my parents post-retirement-move to Tanjore. My idea of Tanjore has always been completely dull and absolutely boring. However, on arriving here, I realized how my preconceived notions were totally wrong.
Although this small neighborhood where mum and dad have pitched their retirement house is no comparison to BHEL, it does have some unknown elements that makes it very tranquil and serene.
Since mom is confined to the house, so are we. Dad is busy running all errands. I was a wee bit worried KT and I will get bored. Surprisingly we’re not! Apart from taking care of mum, I have time to relax, read, enjoy the quietness and savor parotta and mutta-parotta every alternate night. KT finds something or the other around the house to keep herself amused and entertained.
When we entered my parents house, my dad knowing that his grand-daughter is an ardent animal lover, had a surprise waiting for her. Some family friend had gifted my mum a live hen a couple of days prior to our visit. They asked mum to prepare soup with it as it is said to speed-up her recovery. Not having the heart to kill it, my dad kept it for KT. KT dearly calls it Koli-hen (‘Koli’ is hen in Tamil). My dad and KT pet and pamper Koli-hen so much that it has now become a new addition to our family. It walks around the house so fearlessly like it owns this territory!
A family of shepherds have camped in the neighborhood with close to 300 sheep. The shepherds take their sheep for grazing in batches past our house. KT simply loves watching them. She says they are off to school!
Other times, she just sits on the window sill and does her coloring!
We’ll be off to Hyderabad in a few days. It’s been such a refreshing break so far. It’s sad that mum met with a fall. However, KT and I are thoroughly enjoying her company 24/7!
He got his doctorate from Toronto University. A professor of repute in Madurai. A missionary who went to any length to serve God and people. A man of few words but great wisdom. A man of stature. A gentleman. A husband who adored his wife and lived a 60 year long love story. A father who ceaselessly prayed for his children. To the world he was known as Samuel Vedanayagam Job/Dr. Job/Dr. S.V. Job, but to me, my grandfather, Thatha as I call him – an embodiment of love, humility and grace. To KT, her Big-Thatha!
Yesterday, on Father’s day, he was called home – to his mansion on the other shore, leaving behind a legacy that I’m immensely blessed to have!
As a child I could never understand what a godsend my grandparents were. But growing up, just watching their lives and listening to them I began to realize how priceless they were! Their lives spoke volumes of their love for God and people!
I can never forget the summer vacations I spent in Madurai with them when I was little and their visits home. Thatha was the person we (me and my cousins) feared and revered, tall and stern. Many a times, while he was preaching, he’ll look at me from the pulpit playing with the kids next to me, with a finger on his lips, he’d say, “Miche, keep quiet!” I must have been 5 or 6 yrs back then. Gammu, mother Rose as some cousins would call her, was a woman of grace always ready to forgive and forget any mischief. Gammu had the voice of an angel. She used to teach me and my cousin S Hymns. Even today, when I sing or listen to Hymns, I can hear her sing.
We used to have long family prayers when we all got-together. It used to be so long, that me and my cousins used to find refuge under thatha’s steel table, while each member of the family prayed. But what I won’t forget is the time of singing that precedes the prayer. The picture of Thatha, sitting on his cane chair, beside the large blue window and a steel trunk, with the violin on his shoulders is a painting in my mind. He and Gammu were an orchestra of different league!
I have watched my share of romantic movies. Have heard and read some good love stories. Even read great books on marriage. However, simply watching and observing this couple of almost S-I-X-T-Y long years cannot be compared to any of it. The love, admiration and esteem they shared for each other was unparalleled! Watching them so much in love, I once asked them, “Have you ever fought with each other ever?” and their reply was, “No. Never!” I was awed! Well, they did have their differences and opinions, but they only discussed and never disputed over it. Each put the other’s desire ahead of their’s.
Whatever it be, wherever it meant, they were in it together as a team of two. Be it travel or ministry, I’ve never, for even once, seen them apart. Their’s was a marriage that was weaved with prayer and the Word of God. Their day began and ended with prayer. On many occasions, I’ve seen Gammu cooking, Thatha sitting beside cutting vegetables close by and praying for all the people they know along side. To that extent they loved and cared for people. Thatha’s desk always contained those yellow postcards and blue inland letter papers in bulk. Each week they sent out so many handwritten letters of encouragement to people they met while ministering. If they told you “I’ll pray for you,” you can be guaranteed they did!
After thirty years of serving God and people in Madurai, at the age of 75, Thatha and Gammu got a call to serve God in Manipur. Not giving age as an excuse, they implicitly obeyed taking the love of God to a place that was rampant with drugs and terrorism. With their frail bodies and robust passion, they went around the hilly terrain spreading the love of Jesus Christ. In all their years of ministry, they were never lured by money or men’s applause. Not once did they take their eyes off their Saviour and Redeemer. The stories of the many lives they’ve touched and inspired over the years are just numerous.
Once, many years ago, Thatha called me to his side, pointed to his duffel bag that contained a few clothes, a handful of saris and a bible and told me, “Paethi (translated grand-daughter in Tamil), this is all that we possess. I’m sorry I won’t be able to leave behind money, gold or land for you to inherit. But I am confident Gamma and I have earned treasures in heaven!” There was no limit to their giving. They gave away their money, gold and even their house for the needy and extension of God’s work.
After loosing Gammu in 2009, just months before they could celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary, no one could fill the vacuum Gammu’s loss had created in Thatha’s life. But that did not diminish his love for God. He stuck to his call. He carried on his mission at Beaulah Gardens, Chennai training aspiring missionaries. Just last month he published his auto biography titled ‘My Emmanuel’!
“I thought I would not live to be twenty, but my Emmanuel has led me to cross my ninetieth year.
I was afraid I might not have a happy married life, but my Emmanuel gave me four months short of sixty years, of happy married life with the most loving person, Marjorie.
I thought there was no hope for my polio-stricken daughter, but my Saviour Emmanuel healed her, made her whole and made her a mother of blessed children.
I thought my rebellious son would not repent not even on my dead body, but my Redeemer Emmanuel saved him, made him to pray for me on my deathbed and brought me back to life.
He has blessed me exceedingly abundantly far more than I could ask or think!”
(A short excerpt from Thatha’s book)
The regret that KT was never carried by Gammu or could ever hear her sing will always remain. Nonetheless, KT is truly blessed to have been pampered and prayed by you Thatha! I’ve got no words to describe how much I miss you both. My only comfort is the fact that you are finally where you belong – to your Emmanuel and your ever-loving wife, Gammu! Thanks for the life you lived, the inestimable lessons you’ve taught, the example you set, the lives you touched and memories you’ve left. I’ll forever be grateful to God for handpicking me to be one of your grandchildren and KT your great-grand daughter! Feel immeasurably blessed!