Communist intellectual P. Govinda Pillai was the last of famous Pulluvazhi trio
It was a day of mourning for the residents of Pulluvazhi in Rayamangalam panchayat, some 5 km from Perumbavur, on Friday. P. Govinda Pillai, the last of the ‘Pulluvazhi trio’ (the others were the former Chief Minister P. K. Vasudevan Nair, though he was not born there; and, the writer M. P. Narayana Pillai), died the previous night, bringing down the curtain on a glorious era of Communism, social reform and progressive thinking
Pulluvazhi observed a spontaneous hartal on Friday to mourn its great son. A silent march will be taken out at Perumbavur on Saturday. On Sunday, a large memorial meeting will be held at the Library Junction, where the Pulluvazhi Public Library stands.
The library, which PG and his associates had helped to build, meant so much to him. R.N. Ramachandran, who was president of the Rayamangalam panchayat for 12 years and who is now the president of the library, recalls that it was in December last year that PG last visited Pulluvazhi. “Though ailing, PG made it to the platinum jubilee celebration of the library,” Mr. Ramachandran told The Hindu. “In his talk at the meeting PG said: ‘This is the library I love most, this is my library’.”
During that visit, Mr. Ramachandran remembers, PG had remarked that it would be his last visit to Pulluvazhi. Many people thought so, too—his health had been deteriorating and he was at an advanced age. At the time, PG had surprised Mr. Ramachandran by offering a bunch books from his personal collection to the library. “He loved his books so much that he never lent his books to anybody,” Mr. Ramachandran recalls. “He used to say: ‘I can give you money, not my books’.” Days later, PG handed over a rare collection of books to the library which had helped shape his intellectual life.
Joy Punneli, current president of Rayamangalam panchayat, recalls that Pulluvazhi was the cradle of Communism in Ernakulam district. Most senior leaders of the Communist movement had stayed in the ‘Kappillil tharavaad,’ PG’s family home. Kappillil was a prosperous Nair feudal family which played host to Communists who later on abolished the feudal land-holding system which led to the family losing several acres of its property. Now, P. K. Vasudevan Nair’s wife Lakshmikutty Amma (PG’s sister) and daughter Sarada live in the family home.
Jaya Keralam Higher Secondary School is another institution that survives to tell the public-spirit of PG’s family. “The school was set up by the family to give education to local children and also to provide jobs to teachers who were communists,” Mr. Ramachandran said. “Those days, it was hard for Communist teachers to find jobs.” PG was for some time the manager of the school. His son, the journalist M.G. Radhakrishnan, is the current manager.