THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan turned 85 on Monday. But the day for him was no different from any other day, except for the steady ringing of his telephone in the morning conveying ‘many many happy returns.’
The ‘birthday feast’ too had no special dishes or delicacies, except a ‘payasam.’ Just plain rice, sambar, thoran and a vegetable salad. He does not take ‘pappad’ and pickles under doctor’s advice to avoid salt. His wife Vasumathi served the rice on a porcelain plate, as a bevy of press photographers, who had invaded his dining room, clicked from the other side. His children and their families were not home to join the ‘feast.’ They are not used to being allowed to turn this annual occasion into a celebration. All visitors were served ‘payasam’.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called him around 8.30 a.m. to offer birthday greetings. His Cabinet colleagues and leading politicians too conveyed wishes through telephone. Governor R.S. Gavai sent him a warmly worded message. Several top government officials called on him. With some of them, he had brief discussions on matters official. This kept him busy till around 2 p.m. And, from 4 p.m. he was in his office at the Secretariat attending to the files and meeting people.