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My life story- Trichur life — part 1

October 31, is important for me too.
It was on that day, at 58, exactly 20 years before, I retired from service. Mahtab S Bamji, 60, was another colleague who retired along with me, the same day.
While thanking the Director and other colleagues at the farewell get together, I didn’t forget to mention Smt. Saroja, who was instrumental for my entry into the prestigious Institution, which I served for nearly four decades except for a short interval when I went on deputation in a senior capacity at another National Institute.
Smt. Saroja with her husband Ramachandran and their kid, occupied the side portion of our house. My Appa, casually told Saroja, soon after my clearing the exam, to help me in getting a position, as all parents of those days used to do. She spoke to her father in the Pasture Institute, Conoor and within a week, I received the appointment order, without any formal personal interview. I was asked to report to one Dr, Ganapathy, Ganapathy Agraharam, Poonkunnam, Trichur. By that time, I had another job offer as a Silt Analyst, also from a Government Inst. in Assam, at a much higher salary, more than double, but Appa said,” Trichur is only two hours journey from home. You can come on week ends or I can go there to see you. Assam is 4 days’ journey” . So, no Assam. My loving father never knew, nor me then, that within six months, I would be transferred to Hyderabad, for ever!
Dr. Ganpathy Iyer of Ganapathy Agraharam, my first boss, would be a prominent oldie, with a pot belly, who would yell if my chemical analysis go wrong somewhere, was my fear, which I shared with Appa too.” He can’t be worse than me; you will be able to manage him”. He encouraged me.
To my surprise, the person I reported for duty, was an young, charming personality, smiling, courteous, soft spoken and his wife who had joined him, a few months before, was an ideal match for him in looks and behavior. I was a brother with a different mother, for that young couple. Dr. Ganapathy’s mother also stayed with the newly married couple and I used to enjoy the daughter in law’s ” Amma, poochai vandathu” and the elderly lady’s correction, “poochai alla, poonai nnu chollu”
Dr. Ganapathy, after coming to Hyderabad, resigned and later became a legend in serving lepers. For the sacrifices he made, he was awarded a Padma . There was no need for that. His wife Padma was the biggest award God gave him. Not long before his death, he came to Hyderabad to attend a conference on leprosy along with his wife. She was kind enough to visit me and I went to meet him in his hotel room. He was exhausted after the meeting and I asked why he came for the conference with such fragile body. “My eagerness to support my patients hasn’t become fragile, Shiva”, he said smiling. I won’t be seeing that smile again, but his patients and innumerable others, benefitted by his support, will continue to, throughout their life, in their mind.
An hour after my reporting to him, there comes Dr. M.C. Swaminathan, his senior and our team head at Trichur. Man! such a simple and friendly officer, I never had in my career. We became friends , right from the first meeting.
I was lucky to attend his wedding at Chennai, later. We became still closer, when Swaminathans bought a house near mine and the friendship still continues. They are in USA now, with their daughters.
( To continue )

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