KOLLAD | A Captivating Land

Kerala’s towns are far removed from big-city concrete jungles, and the dividing line between urban and rural is fine indeed, with green avenues and placid backwaters gracing the busiest cites, and tarred roads and public schools evident in smallest villages.

Palm-fringed river side, endless paddy fields, rolling hills, back waters that snake past tiled-roof house and spotless village roads: Kollad is a land of unmatched beauty. Malayali society is unique, boasting a highly literate population, a sex ratio favoring women, matriarchal sub-societies and a people unfettered by the divisions of case and creed. Diverse religions live here in peaceful amicability, each enriching the state with its customs and practices. Add vibrant arts and colorful festivals, ancient shrines and delectable cuisine, and Kollad is a must stop destination.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Kollad Puliyelil Rene Kurian's; Cherishing Sweet Memories; Accepting the Reality!

We bid farewell to Rene, one of our most loved and admired colleagues, who has left an incredible impression on everyone of us.

I still remember meeting him for the first time about 9 years back, as he came for the interview to join us as IELTS trainer. I was greatly impressed by his brilliant written and spoken language skills. He had a very natural Canadian accent, being born and spending his school years in Canada. He was working as a language trainer in an American call-centre in Bangalore at that time. I was both shocked and thrilled when he took the decision to join us in this small town of Kottayam, and my luxurious feeling was 'owning a up-line BMW'.

A young man in his upper twenties he struck a chord with the colleagues immediately and was a huge hit with students. His sense of quick wit and humour cheered the IELTS staff room in the 2000's. He really enjoyed interacting with students, as he came down to their lower levels lifting them to be brilliant communicators. When he cracked jokes through the entire class, everybody else laughed except him, as he moved along gloriously on stage. Sometimes, as I stalked him outside the class, would listen to his 'Saahitya Bhaasha', when he spoke in Malayalam, among the giggles of his listeners. When I explored I came to know years later that he had dared to take Malayalam as the second language for his graduate studies in Kerala at CMS college and came out in flying colours.

What I admired most in Rene was his humanistic approach and convictions which were lavishly displayed in his short stories and poems, mostly set in his early Canadian life. The orthodoxies of Kottayam would hardly appreciate his free spirit and bold ideas in his writing and considered blasphemous to their narrow ideologies and bottled thinking patterns.

I can go on writing about Rene, as he has influenced me much more than many other human beings in my life.

Tragedy struck him.

It all started with a eye surgery to correct his short-sightedness at the famed Vasans. When he came back from the surgery his eye-sight was almost lost due to an infection at the hospital. He managed to regain his vision a little better after a second surgery in Hyderabad but it was mostly blurred for a long time after that. The experience greatly devastated him. It was followed by a Motor Cycle accident as he was riding his Bullet, which he proudly owned and dearly maintained. Then many surgeries followed. His head and legs were cut open a number of times and suffered terrible pain during the last couple of years. When he came back from his brain surgery Rene was a different man. He recognised none. He brain was damaged. He was speaking like a little child, and it deeply pained me, when he asked me who I was. Although he recovered and started recognising people he was never the same. His old brilliance and wit hardly returned, although the traces of it occasionally surfaced in his words.

In the last six months he was feeling better, speaking better and started painting as a hobby and produced a number of pictures. However, his medication was very strong with a lot of steroids.

When I visited him a month back he was happy and we talked a lot of the old times. Yet I noticed that he lacked his old indomitable spirit, with his languishing physical and psychological health.

And then it all happened on Monday, after a renal failure, which followed a heart attack.

I salute you Rene. I am deeply hurt. Your convictions and attitudes will continue to inspire me.

-: George Andrews Moolekary

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