It took great strength of spirit for former Supreme Court Judge S. Mohan to come to terms with the tragedy of losing his wife a couple of years ago. And, it required greater courage to channel the angst towards creative purpose as he did in writing a collection of poems as a tribute to his spouse.

“Crown Jewel,” a book of poems on Thilakavathy Mohan by Mr. Justice Mohan, was launched at the Durbar Hall of the Raj Bhavan on Wednesday with speakers lauding the literary effort as a befitting tribute to a woman of many virtues, a “Taj Mahal of poems” and even as a lesson to the modern generation on the depth of spousal relationship.

And virtually every speaker had a reference to the lines “…The dark thief of death snatched you away. Little did he realise what he did? Leaving me in a trail of sorrow, if what mattered was only life, I was there to settle the account.”

Launching the book, Governor Surjit Singh Barnala said the verses revealed the deep sense of love Mr. Mohan had for his wife. As a husband and wife who had lived much like Thiruvalluvar and Vasuki, their life was a message to younger couples, he said.

Referring to rising instances of divorce these days, the Governor said the bonds of marriage will be strengthened by sharing, giving, caring and understanding between spouses.

Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy, who received the first copy, described the work as a monument of love, a signal service to culture and a lesson (in exemplary spousal bonding) to the younger generation.

Offering felicitations, N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, said the book of poems was a beautiful and deeply moving offering that brought out the bond between the husband and wife.

Referring to a couple of famous instances in literary history in which terrible personal loss led to a creative offering to the world — such as “A Grief Observed” by C. S. Lewis and “The English Teacher” by R. K. Narayan — Mr. Ram said Mr. Mohan's work was “a love story coexisting with a great sense of loss.”

S. Natarajan, former Supreme Court Judge, who had a 35-year-long association with Mr. Mohan and his wife, said “Crown Jewel” was a work of sorrow and a fitting tribute to a woman of several excellent qualities. It was a “Taj Mahal of poems,” he said. In an emotional speech, Mr. Mohan spoke of battling grief and loss, the sense of abysmal and all-pervading darkness. It was struggle too to gather all rational faculties to put into verse memories about someone who was everything to him and “who stood by me like a rock” in difficult times.

“It is the outpourings of an anguished heart that form this book,” he said.

V. Shanmugasundaram and G. Manilal, organising secretary, also participated.

Keywords: Crown Jewel