Monday, June 18, 2018
Vedavanam's death anniversary
Vedavanam's death anniversary falls on 27 June. The following are Eulogies by his daughter and son.
My father was incredibly humble and modest and would be so honoured by the fact that so many of you have travelled so far to be present to help us pay tribute to his life. Thankyou all for coming.
It is very daunting to stand before you all today and try to provide some words to do justice to the man who, with our mother, created me and my brother and guided and nurtured us throughout our lives with endless love and patience. He remains a father who eclipses all others.
However, I will do my best to remember his life as he would have wished – with joy, rather than sadness. Each of you had your own unique relationship with my father and I don’t presume to know the man that you knew, but I will describe the man I had the good fortune to have as a father.
Appa was born in Jaffna Town, in the north of Sri Lanka, the son of Murugesu, a stationmaster from Mavidapuram and Nesamani, a housewife from Thunavi, Vaddukoda. He was the much loved youngest of 3 siblings, with 2 older sisters, of whom his middle sister Lakshmi is the surviving sibling. Although he went onto university in the capital and left his home town and eventually the country of his birth, he still retained the homely values of the region of his birth, which he used to inform his own parenting and duties of a spouse and son – the importance of familial ties and the need for hard work, infused with tolerance, patience and adaptability. He cared for his mother, my grandmother, throughout much of the latter part of her life, as she was widowed when he was at university. He did this with no demur, and those who knew them both described the endless care he would take with her, bathing her himself when she became too frail to care for herself without help. He married my mother, Dhushyanthi, in 1975. My mother’s father, V.Kumaraswamy, was a formidable character, and nationally very well known as a lawyer, MP and cabinet minister. However, despite his eminent status, he was impressed by, and greatly respected my father’s gentleness and kindness. Although my maternal grandfather died when I was 2, I am made aware by other members of my family, that he felt that his daughter (my mother) was very lucky to have my father. Conversely, I know that my father also felt very lucky to have my mother – exceptionally caring, well educated, attractive and incredibly hard working - indeed, it was only after he married my mother that he felt able to entrust his mother’s care to someone else, and Amma carried out this duty with a daughter-like devotion.
As I described earlier, Appa was at heart, a Jaffna man. As well as retaining those core values I spoke of before, he also retained a love of Jaffna rice and curry and sweet treats as well as fried chicken and fish and chips (much to the exasperation of my mother, who regularly cautioned him about his consumption!) Indeed, his love of fried chicken (which my brother has inherited) may well have influenced my own career path. When attending interview for a large London medical school, I was accompanied by my father and brother who decided to avail themselves of the opportunity to tuck into a KFC bargain bucket in the waiting room with the other candidates. Despite receiving an offer from said medical school, I could not bring myself to come back, fearing I would forever be remembered as the girl whose family decided to have a fried chicken picnic in the waiting area!! Interestingly though, my brother decided to go to that very same university a few years later…obviously enticed by the availability of fried chicken!!
My recollection of my own childhood was that of endless moves around the country (a typical experience for an immigrant doctor), yet I felt very anchored and secure in the cocoon of my parents’ love for me and my brother.
Appa sacrificed huge amounts in order to provide his family with whatever we needed, and we never felt in want of anything, whether materially or emotionally.
He instilled in us the importance of trying one’s best in any situation, and was immensely proud of my brother’s and my own academic and career achievements. However, he also instilled in us the knowledge that all these achievements were nothing without a loving and secure family environment. He provided a sterling example of the strength of a man who truly loves his wife, and he was extremely proud of his 4 beautiful grandchildren, whom he adored. They celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary less than 2 weeks ago.
I believe my parents example is the reason that my brother and I have been so fortunate in our own life partners, although we can only aspire to emulate their success with us (!!)
Although Appa supported us throughout our lives, he was never prescriptive, and allowed us to seek our own course in life. When I married Vick, he quoted the following words by Kahlil Gibran which I feel encapsulates his approach to us and to life:
It is called: SPEAK TO US OF CHILDREN:
AND HE SAID:
“Your children are not your children,
They are sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.
They come through you, but not from you.
And though they are with you, they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thought.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backwards, nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with his might so that his arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so he loves also the bow that is stable.”
And my Appa was truly the stable bow that allowed my brother and I to fly. My mother, brother and I recognise how fortunate we were to have had the time with him that we had, and we are left with no regrets about the nature of our relationship with him, only grief that we did not have longer: a truly powerful legacy.
My dear Appa- you were my best friend and gave unending love to me, Krishni
and Amma. Many of your friends and family have come to see you today. I know
you would not want me crying now.
I thought I would share a light hearted story that only you and I were party to-
16 years ago at my university interview, you took me to London by train and
when I was called into the interview room, you tried to come in with me. The
lady said ǲhe is a big boy nowǳ. This sums you up- always caring, always
supporting us to the end, much to my embarrassment at the time! How I wish I
could share this story with you. I know Akka has many similar stories.
You sacrificed your home, career and even retirement to ensure your family
never wanted for anything. I cannot remember a time that you were unable to
offer us support- emotional, financial or physical.
You will live on in us in many ways- I think of certain phrases that define you-
tolerance and patience, you only have one sister, pamper your mother,
Mercedes- Benz, who has the pleasure of making me a tea? , I have a duty.
The legacy you and Amma have created is formidable – 2 children- 3 grand
daughters and a recent grand son. I think you thought it was good that Geetha
and I had a son to have the same special relationship that we share, and I am
thankful that you met him.
The way you left this earth was sudden and shocking, but I am glad you did not
suffer and were still fully functioning to your last breath.
I think this poem sums up what you would say now:
When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room,
Why cry for a soul set free!
Miss me a little - but not for long
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love that we once shared,
Miss me, but let me go.
For this journey that we all must take
And each must go alone;
It's all a part of the master plan
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick at heart
Go to the friends we know,
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds.
Miss me, but let me go.