To Sukumaran Nambiar, who passed away recently.
It was three years ago I paid my last respects to Gurusamy M.N. Nambiar, who passed away at the age of 90. It was with a lump in my throat that I stood paying respect to his son Sukumaran, on January 8, at his Gopalapuram residence. Hundreds of people from all walks of life and several States paid their obeisance. Such was Sukumaran’s stature – humble and loving. Manjeri Narayanan Sukumaran Nambiar had celebrated his 64th birthday December 8, 2011. An ardent Ayyappa devotee, he accompanied his father on the annual Sabarimala yatra for over five decades. Yes, Gurusamy had trained him from the age of 12.
An all-rounder, Sukumaran, a student of Church Park, MCC High School at Harrington Road (1965 batch), graduated in B. Lit., from MCC College Tambaram (1970 batch) and did his MBA from Armstrong College, Berkeley, California.
Sukumaran’s childhood friend since 1959, Imthiaz Pasha (he was yet to come to terms with the fact that his friend was no more) recalls that Sukumaran represented his educational Institutions in cricket; he was a State swimming champion during his school days from 1963-65, national champion in javelin, a good polo player and was trained in martial arts. He was a fan of Elvis Presley and would sing all the songs of the legend. A self-taught guitarist, he started a music troupe, Voodoos, in 1967. He was the lead singer-cum-rhythm guitarist and his brother Mohan was on the drums. His group emerged winner in several competitions. Tom Jones was also one of his favourite singers. His greatest asset was his sense of humour.
A Nature lover, he spent a significant amount of time, whenever he could, in various forests to watch animals and birds. Although he was a politician, affiliated to the BJP, he was a shy person most often preferring to remain in the background. During an election campaign in Tiruchi, his opponent called him “A gentleman politician” as he never used to criticise his rivals or try to garner votes by highlighting their weaknesses. He firmly believed that votes should be secured based only on one’s sincerity and commitment. An advocate of national integration, as the president of All-India Ayyappa Seva Sangam, he appealed through a press meet from the State BJP office for an amicable solution to the Mullai Periyar Dam controversy. In fact, nobody has heard Sukumaran speak ill of any one or encourage gossip.
Quiet and unassuming, he would supervise the arrangements for the Sabarimala pilgrimage, officially taking over the reins from his father in 2004.
On December 19, 2010, when Friday Review published an article about M.N. Nambiar to commemorate his second death anniversary, with inputs from this writer, Sukumaran telephoned and said, “I don’t think such a coverage of his Sabarimala Yatra was published by The Hindu when Gurusamy was alive. It is a fitting tribute and please thank the paper on my behalf.”
Sukumaran had returned from Sabarimala on December 17. During the trip, much to the surprise of the devotees, he had initiated his son Siddharth into the procedures, guiding him all the way. “Now we know why,” said the pilgrims, who had turned up in large numbers at the funeral.
On January 8, Sukumaran Nambiar was preparing to to leave for the airport to catch the Calicut flight to oversee the renovation of the family’s ancestral Siva temple. It was Arudra and the Lord had other plans for this devotee.