Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Part 2A: Is this Love Story about just 2 people?

From the inputs I have been getting, it has been assumed that this Love Story was just about 2 people - Jacob and me! That is far from the truth.

This romance is between the many tens of people who showered us with love and affection over the years starting with Jacob's late mother, Mariam Matthan (known to us as "Ammachi" - which means "Mother" in Malayalam).

K. C. Mammen Mappillai
The late K. C. Mammen Mappillai

Ammachi was the only daughter of the Doyen of Kerala, Mr. K. C. Mammen Mappillai. He and his wife (Kundjunammama) had 8 sons and one daughter. Out of the eight sons, four of them with a public profile went on to receive the Padma Shri Awards and one the Padma Bhushan as well. 

Is there any family in India who has this record? (Jacob's cousin, Mammen Mathew, son of the late Mr. K. M. Mathew has also received the Padma Shri Award!)

Padma Bhushan K. M. Cherian
Padma Bhushan K. M. Cherian
The late K. M. Cherian, the eldest, received the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan (1971) Awards. He took over running the Malayala Manorama after the demise of the father in 1953.

Padma Shri K. M. Philip with Mrs. Philip.

Mr. K. M. Philip (now 102 in 2013), who besides being the Father of the Indian Rubber Industry, was also the World Y. M.C.A. President was awarded the Padma Shri  (1993).

Mammen and his father, K. M. Mathew
The late Mr. K. M. Mathew  Padma Shri in 1998,
with his son Mammen Mathew
who also received the Padma Shri in  2005.

The late Mr. K. M. Mathew, received the Padma Shri in 1998, and ran the Malayala Manorama after the passing of Mr. K. M. Cherian. He turned a small town newspaper into an international communication channel for all Malayalees around the world and created so much out of the institution to build the Manorama Directory, the Balrama for children, the Vanitha for ladies and the Manorama Weekly, plus launch The Week, which today is India's largest English weekly magazine.

The late Mr. K. M. Mammen Mappillai, Padma Shri in 1993.
The late Mr. K. M. Mammen Mappillai, Padma Shri in 1993.

The late Mr. K. M. Mammen Mappillai who received the Padma Shri in 1993, with his brother, Mr. K. M. Philip, turned a toy balloon factory into India's largest tyre company, MRF Ltd.

Ammachi when she graduated from Women's Christian College, Madras in 1934
Ammachi when she graduated from
Women's Christian College, Madras in 1934

All eight brother's revered their sister, Ammachi, and she held them together to build the MM Empire. Without her daily chats sitting in her home in Bangalore, the entire family would have gone in different ways. Whenever there was a disagreement, they would be on the phone to her, and in her quiet manner, she would bring them around to a common viewpoint.

It was not unusual to see her brothers arrive at her home in Bangalore to stay for a day or two to work off their steam!

Ammachi opposed my marriage to Jacob and after Jacob's father failed in his mission to stop the wedding, she gave the job to two of her brothers, her eldest, K. M. Cherian and her youngest, K. M. Mammen Mappillai. Both of them were far ahead f their time and only established from Jacob that he was serious and committed to this relationship, and they advised Ammachi to quietly accept Jacob's decision.

Till the day we got married, she was opposed to the union, but within minutes of the wedding, she publicly declared - "What God hath put together, let no man put asunder", and from that day I was closer to her than her own daughter.

She was there at Bombay harbour to meet us when we landed in September 1969 and she whisked the two children and me way to her home to ensure that from that moment we were looked after in a way that I can never forget. Her love was unconditional to our children and to me.

When we moved to Bangalore in 1975, I decided to make something unique for her. I toiled for 7 months to produce a masterpiece art piece, "The Zebras" and this hung in her living room as the centrepiece till the day she died.

Zebras, a textile art piece made by me
for my mother-in-law in 1976.

On her passing away in 2000, the art work was returned to me and now is the centrepiece in our living room.

Till her very last breath she showed her love and affection for our entire family despite many attempts to break that bond by jealous family members. 

I have written here about the Kandathil family to which my mother belonged. I must tell you about the Maliyakal family to which Jacob's father belonged  It was equally distinguished!

Yes, this Love Story covers many many people. In future blog entries I will tell you about other wonderful people who have been part of my life in England, India and Finland!

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