15th March 2015, Trivandrum:

Here I would like to report a day in the life of my late husband Kumar G Nair who was an engineer by profession. Out of the pleasant seventeen years we had shared together from 1983 to 2000, the first three years were spent in the northern part of Nigeria and the rest at Kottayam in Kerala. So I think I will have to pen down his life in Nigeria and a day in his life in Kerala separately.

He had left Kerala at a very young age of 16 and had done his mechanical engineering in Nigeria. After passing out, he got into the teaching field and when I married him I found him more mature than his 26 years of age, always reliable and steady. The Polytechnic where he was teaching had timings from 7 am to 2 pm. and every day he was on the dot in getting to the college. I remember that he used to get up at 6 am, prepare his own breakfast (the usual continental one) and by the time I opened my eyes, he was ready to leave. You see, I had a very good reason for waking up late – I was an expectant mother then- but I must say that it continued even after the arrival of the baby. A better reason! Lucky me! He would then drive away in his Toyota Corolla car, his first and real love; he jokingly tells me that I was his second wife since he got married to his car long back. Believe it or not, I used to get jealous!!! Yes, talking of cars and rides, he loved driving long distances; we would just go into the African wilderness, park the car somewhere near the tribal settlements where they would gather around us. It was fun trying to talk to the tribal though at first I was scared because they wanted to touch my long tresses so unlike their curly hair and they were fascinated by the ‘bindi’ on my forehead. But Kumar had a rapport with them, understood them perfectly and liked them too, unlike the typical Mallus I had seen there, always ridiculing the poor people and referring them as ‘karumbans’. Kumar would smart at that usage; he was always considerate of other’s feelings. From 7 am to 2pm, he was the perfect conscientious teacher at the Polytechnic, liked by his colleagues because of his friendly nature and the students for his dedication to teaching. Some days after class timings, his students would land up in our house and Kumar would patiently help them with the assignments. Once back home, after lunch, it is rest time, for afternoons in Nigeria were like being burnt alive and so no stepping out of the house before 6 pm. Most of the days, his siesta would lengthen into deep slumbers. After 7 pm is the time for get-togethers and parties and some days, it would go late into the night till 12 pm or even 1 o clock. And where we were staying, there were no active television programmes to steal away your precious time and so his evenings were for interactions with the family and friends which he thoroughly loved. Especially during festive seasons, the Indians would gather together and would really celebrate by organizing dinner parties and games. By now, you must be wondering where the engineer part fitted in. Yes, there was not much engineering work for him; he was more of an academic there in Nigeria. Of course some afternoons, he would dismantle the household appliances like generator, mixie etc. and sometimes go underneath the car and remain there for ages like a true mechanic and in the end finish up by having a couple of screws, nuts and bolts lying around. That used to enlighten me on the fact that I have truly married a typical mechanical engineer!
After his post graduation, we settled down at Kottayam in a place called Chingavanam as he got a job as Pollution Control Engineer in the private company. This part of the decade of our life together was very different from the previous years as his new job demanded a lot of time and competence as an engineer. So he would leave for the factory around 9 am to return only by dusk. And as we were residing in the company campus, he had to supervise the work sometimes during the night too. But he had turned into a complete engineer by now, what with the whole works and know-how. And another thing was that he was becoming more of a Malayalee, getting to know about our customs which had completely eluded him while in Nigeria. He was used to wearing only suits, jeans and shorts and I remember one of his birthdays when I presented him with a kasavu mundu. He was so proud of wearing it, while in Nigeria I could never have been able to make him even appreciate it, let alone wear it. Here too he had friends in galore, both Marwadis, (the company was owned by Somani, a Rajasthani) and Malayalees and had a hand in almost all the campus matters like being the club secretary, being in charge of the garden, the dish TV for the colony, company vehicles & transport, which ate away all our leisure. But I could see that he was enjoying all the responsibilities heaped on him since basically he was a friendly person and I was happy for him. Amongst all the demanding activities, he always had time for our daughter Priyanka who was his pet. A tear in her eye would make him run to get the moon for her!

But everything crashed around us like a card castle in 2000 when he was ripped away from us by forces that cannot be fathomed.

Wonder how his day is now, wherever he is, without us! Dear Kumar, our’s sure are dry without you!

Missing you,

Sunanda Nair