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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Dear Narayanan Ettan

These are the humble tributes of a younger brother to

dear Narayanan ettan[1],

who as a young boy I used to look upon with awe and respect,

who used to say things which I seldom understood,

who disappointed me by saying it is improper to again seek permission to go for a movie, 
which my father had earlier disallowed,

who did not dry his body after taking bath,

who used to laugh it away when asked about that,

who started smoking while studying in college,

who used to say that cigarette has more ‘kick’ than beedi,

who used to steal cashewnuts from an estate, exchange it at a small shop at the rate of three pea nuts for each cashew nut and then presented those to me, when we used to go to river to take bath,

who once lied to me that the postman had to search a lot in search of Narayanan Chettiar, 
when I had addressed a letter to Narayanan Chettan[2],

who lovingly advised me not to use words such as chettan, chechi[3], and so on in address,

who was crazy at reading books,

who made it a practice to read at least 100 pages every day,

who obtained a post-graduate degree in English,

who became famous overnight with the publication of a single story,

who had to go into hiding for several days because of the riots orchestrated by religious fundamentalists who sought to find non-existent meanings in a simple story,

who never wrote stories thereafter because of the remorse he felt for those who were killed during the riots,

who was responsible for my shifting to Delhi and building up my life here,

who was my partner in my first-ever train journey,

who bought slippers for me who had never worn a pair earlier,

who taught me that in Delhi slippers are almost like parts of one’s body,

who used to visit me at each station, since we were in separate bogies which were not inter-connected,

who used to assure me every time we met not to worry and he was in the next coach,

who patted on my back saying not to worry and many more journeys are yet to be undertaken, when my eyes were filled with tears at the thought of leaving my co-passengers 

who were like family for three days,

who was with me at every step of my life in Delhi,

who taught me about Delhi and the life here,

who lent me his sweaters when I didn’t have one of my own,

who taught me to say ‘Hindi patha nahin[4]  or ‘Hindi maloom nahin[5] if anyone talked to me in Hindi,

who taught me how to travel from Greater Kailash to Karol Bagh, in my initial days in Delhi,

who laughed and laughed aloud when I said I had sent an application for membership of Delhi Malayalee Association,

who ridiculed me telling that this would probably be for the first time that they would have received such an application,

who shut my mouth asking, ‘Didn’t I tell you?’, when Delhi Malayalee Association didn’t care to respond,

who made me consume egg curry as a prank, and owned up the mistake when I was down with a seriously upset stomach,

who used to play cards throughout the night with us,

who proved with his own experience that obtaining 100 per cent marks in competitive examinations is possible,

who made his cousin his life partner, against the then prevailing customs,

who chose to attend the intra-state marriage of a friend, conducted without the couple’s parents’ permission, when the marriage of two of his closest friends were fixed on the same 

who lost the friendship of the other friend for ever because he could not attend his marriage,

who declared with his own life that there was nothing wrong in smoking and drinking,

who proclaimed that life is to be enjoyed when young, subdued later, and enslaved in old age,

who always enjoyed telling inspiring stories of great men and from epics,

who constantly sought the meaning of life,

who always liked to share the philosophy of life with anybody who cared to listen,

who was well aware of the perishability of life,

who used to enjoy reading epics for hours on end,  

who trained his belly not to become hungry while he had been reading,

who did not want to make a show of his knowledge and devotion,

who applied sacred ash on the foreheads of all those present, after daily poojas,

who conducted Bhagavata saptaha[6] when his daughter and later daughter-in-law were carrying, to tell the story of Lord Krishna to the unborn child,

who spent several hours listening to religious talks of Nochur Venkata Raman,

who encouraged and helped me acquire a flat in Noida,

who always kept toffees in his pocket and distributed those mixed with his attractive smile to whoever happened to meet him,

who constantly sought opportunities to help his relatives and friends,

who brought several relatives to Delhi and helped build their lives,

who initiated get-togethers of relatives scattered all over the National Capital Region and successfully conducted them for several years,

who did not like to do things that he didn’t want only to prolong his life,

who gracefully accepted and welcomed the illness when it was confirmed that he had the deadly cancer,

who prepared himself to accept death like a great philosopher,

who initially refused to undergo treatment which would only prolong his life slightly,

who later surrendered to the loving persuasion of his near and dear ones,

who, yet, succumbed to God’s decision wholeheartedly,

who left for his heavenly abode on 12 April 2015,

who left creating a huge chasm in our lives which it seems impossible to fill up.


[1] Elder brother
[2] Another word for elder brother
[3] Elder sister
[4] I don’t know Hindi
[5] I don’t know Hindi
[6] Reading of the sacred Bhagavatha in seven days and explaining the stories.


  1. Received through e-mail

    Please accept our heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of Shri P.K.N. Namboodiri. The deadly disease of cancer has taken away a dear soul. Your tributes have brought out the unknown facets of his life. He was really a very helpful person and his positive attitude, humility and enthusiasm rubbed off on me. Although I had limited interactions with him, it was always very insightful. I also recall the Bhagavata Saptaha which he had conducted in his house.

    May god give strength to the family to bear this great loss.

    Gopal Iyengar

  2. Received througn e-mail

    Read your blog and learnt many noble qualities of Namboodiri sab. In my association with him in last few years I have experienced the humanly qualities you have described. Still today I can not believe that he has left. Really a big vacuum for me as his neighbour. We used to chat spirituality, politics , society etc. and I always enjoyed his intellectual but simple words. He told me several times to start a study group comprising 5 to 10 residents, who will meet once a week for studying and discussing scriptures.

    I pray for his soul to be at peace.

    Ashis Mitra

  3. Received through e-mail

    I am terribly sorry to hear of the sad demise of your brother P.K.N.Namboodiri. Please accept my heartfelt condolences. May God give the family the strength to bear with this terrible loss.


  4. Received through e-mail

    Namashivaya, Jayanthan. I just got back to Ashram and thus got access to mail also. We all had read your heartfelt thoughts on Narayanan, which, I must say, was a uniquely crafted obituary--not because both happen to be my kins. After reading it I became even more proud of your thinking and writing skills. Keep it up, young man! May be greater glory is ahead. Love

    P.K.S. Namboodiri

  5. Received through e-mail

    Its too emotional Jayanthanettaaa...

    Asha Raman

  6. Received through e-mail

    Good. Thanks.