10 Aug 2018
Sub: Vairamuthu, “Now, my phone will remain silent in the mornings”, Times of India, 10 Aug 2018
This has reference to Mr Vairamuthu’s memoir about his friendship with (Late) Sri Kalaignar Karunanidhi. [Henceforth, Sri Kalaignar] appearing in today’s Times of India, Tiruchchirappalli Edition.
It was very moving reading the article. One can see that he has written it from the bottom of his heart. I could almost touch the void caused in Vairamuthu’s life due to Sri Kalaignar’s demise. All good things have to come to an end, and so did Sri Kalaignar’s time on earth. We can only extend our heartfelt condolences to those who were touched by this breeze called Kalaignar and pray that he should be blessed with better worlds, which I do. Well.
I would like to recall here an incident that happened in my life vis-à-vis Kalaignar when I was a final year student of BA [English] at National College, Tiruchchirappalli [Trichy]. I don’t exactly remember if it was late 1974 or early 1975.
A couple of my classmates hit upon an idea that we must meet Kalaignar who was then at Trichy. He was staying at Hotel Sangam. I told them, “hey, look, he is our Chief Minister, there must be hell a lot of protocol surrounding him; it may be difficult to get to him”. Then a knowledgeable guy among us said, “Oh no, he is easily accessible, and he has a soft corner for college students”. That settled the issue and we reached Hotel Sangam. We informed the Reception that we are from National College and would like to meet the Chief Minister. They checked-up with him and lo and behold we were ushered into his presence in no time.
After paying our respects, we introduced ourselves. When he learnt that we were English Literature students, there was a twinkle in his eyes. He asked us, okay, can you quote any memorable lines from Shakespeare? Fresh from memorizing many of his soliloquies, I raised my hand and belted out:
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets its hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Can you explain it for me, he asked. I said life is just a dramatist’s stage where we all have an assigned role. When we finish our part, we are shown the door, and at the end of the day, when we look back upon it, we realize, the things we valued high at that point of time are nothing but hollow withered Oaks whose value is zilch. [Since his base as a Kalaignar (Artist) is from Cinema-Drama field, it was but natural of him to be interested in Shakespeare.]
There was pin-drop silence. He patted me, and said once your examinations are over come and meet me at Fort. [St. George]. And he gave me a slip¹ written on it, “Meet me at Fort St. George” and signed “Thi Mu Ka” in Tamil. With a mischievous smile, he asked me what does “Thi Mu Ka” stand for? I shot out immediately, “Thiru Mu Karunanidhi”. He clapped his hands, and bid us adieu.
My results came in May 1975, and I immediately left for Delhi beckoned by my Grandmother. Somehow my meeting with Sri Kalaignar, the Chief Minister, never happened. I never realized the import of that slip! I joined JNU, and my life veered away from TN. I returned back only in 2011 following my retirement.
During all these years I shifted residence so many times that, that particular slip from Sri Kalaignar I had kept safely preserved in one of my college books [Shakespeare’s Macbeth] got lost along with the book. That’s my story or of a destiny of “what could have been”.
– Sri Aiyer Raju Sreenivasan
¹He fumbled around for paper when I tore one from my spiraled notebook and gave it to him. Apparently he looked at the notes I had taken in it which was in Sir Isaac Pitman’s Shorthand. He asked me what is that you have scribbled, to which I replied, I take notes in Shorthand when the Professor gives his lecture. (I started learning Shorthand as a 16 year old during my PUC vacations).