தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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From the Book Flap: Dr. (Mrs) Parvathi Vasudev, Former Head, English Dept, Quaid-E-Millath College, Chennai on Mr. Karthigasoo Jeganathan

"Born on 29th November 1927 in Batu Gajah (Federal Malay States), Mr. K. Jeganathan had a fairly comfortable childhood. His father, who was employed as sub-Treasurer in the District Treasury, retired prematurely due to personal reasons. Returning to his homeland, Sri Lanka, Mr. Jeganathan had his education first in Tholpuram, and then in Jaffna and Colombo. Becoming a teacher at the age of 20, he had a chequered career spanning half a century, At an age when most men would consider retirement and a peaceful life, Mr. Jeganathan had the Courage to travel to distant Zambia and then South Africa, for Compelling reasons in the wake of race riots of 1977. He has had an eventful Life, with obstacles at every turn, which he surmounted with difficulty and dignity. What is most remarkable about Mr. Jeganathan's life. is that. despite innumerable odds he never once sacrificed or compromised his principles of honour and integrity.

In the Preface to his book, Mr. Jeganathan says that his objective in writing this book (apart from being a source of self - fulfilment) was to let his grandchildren know "how their forbears fared in times and circumstances vastly different from theirs". In this age of greed, selfishness and declining values, here is a man who has been upright, honest and sincere in his private as well as public life. Mr. Jeganathan was lucky to have had a father and father-in-law, who were role models not only to him but to all those who came in contact with them. Indeed, Mr. Jeganathan has passed on this legacy to his children. This is evidenced by the fact that his son, Pradeepan, did not wish his parents to finance his higher education, and hence took up a part-time job to enable him to be self-sufficient. It was a tragic quirk of Fate, that such a gem of a young man was killed just for the sake of his car!

"MEMORIES ARE FOR EVER" is an excellent autobiography, which reads more like a novel. I consider myself fortunate to have gone through it in detail. Without the aid of any documentation, Mr. Jeganathan has recorded incidents and events purely from his memory which is infallible. His ability to narrate the important events in his life without any gloss or pretensions – in language that is simple, clear and effective, is absolutely admirable. I am sure that this book will find a place in the home of everyone - young and old alike -who loves to read a good book.

TAMIL NATION LIBRARY: Eelam

  • Memories are Forever - Karthigasoo Jeganathan
    First Edition, December 2005, 616 Pages
    Price: Rs 300 (India), Rs.600 (Sri Lanka), US$25 (Other Countries)
    Publisher -  Era Mathivaanan, MSc.,Ulaga Thamizhar Pathippakam,  4 Sourashtra Nagar, Seventh Street, Choolaimedu, Chennai — 600 094, South India, : 0091 44 55180155, Mob.: 0091 094441 11951 Email:eramathi@rediff.com

    Purchases from:
    U.K.: Miss Susi Muthucumaru 208-9597634 10
    US/Canada: Mr.M.Rajasingham 416-6931431 C$.20.00
    Australia: Mr. J.Janarthana 02-97646502 A$ 20.00
    New Zealand: Mrs.M.Sathianathan 09-6206664 NZ$.20.00
    Sri Lanka: Vijitha Yapa Bookshop & Poopalasingham Bookshop, Colombo - Rs.600.00

    Proceeds from the sale of books will go to the Pradeepan Jeganathan Memorial Charitable Trust.
     

    Book Review by Professor Dr. S. Muthukumaran, Bharathidasan University
    Publishers Note - Era Mathivaanan  "We, Tamils in general, are not inclined to record our experiences. That's why we do not have many autobiographies. Thiru K.Jeganathan has attempted to change this trend by placing on record several historical events, there by becoming a role model, and setting an example for others to follow..."
    Book Review by Carlton Samarajiwa  "This book is not only a personal story but also a perceptive sociological commentary on Jega’s life and times, people and events, politics and society, and other aspects of the passing scene which he observed keenly."
    From the Preface
    From the Epilogue


Book Review by Professor Dr. S. Muthukumaran, Former Vice Chancellor, Bharathidasan University

As I started perusing the autobiography of Thiru Karthigasoo Jeganathan. I was astonished at his memory power. He has written this autobiography running to more then 200,000 words, narrating his life history spanning over seventy years. purely from memory without documentary material. He also observes in his preface that he had little experience in writing. But anyone who reads a few pages of this book will be struck by the lucid style and the simple language of his writing.

There are thirteen chapters and an appendix. The first three chapters describe his early life and education. The next seven chapters deal with his career in Sri Lanka. Two more chapters are about his experience in Africa. The last chapter is about his retired life in New Zealand. Even though the first three chapters simply narrate his childhood and teenage days, these provide us with information about the life of an average Tamil in Jaffna and Federated Malay States (F.M.S.) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The author's father retired from F.M.S. when he was 52 years old and returned to his ancestral home in Ceylon where the author had his secondary and tertiary education.

The author has vividly described the passing of the bill on Free Education and how it opened a new world for millions of young ones who were denied education because their parents could not afford the cost of education. He also describes the travails of a large middle class family in Ceylon in the forties of the twentieth century. The World War II was coming to an end and the British Empire was collapsing. The future was quite uncertain for pensioners as there was inflation.

The author joined as a teacher on 20th January 1948. In June 1950 he was selected for a period of training on the results of a competitive examination. It was here at the College of Education, he met Selvi Shakuntala. It was love at first sight. He could not marry her until her elder sister and his younger sister were married. In the meantime, the Official Language Act declaring Sinhala as the only official language was passed in 1956. According to the author, the race rift that began with the passing of this bill widened as the Government brought in one irritant after another. From then on the author describes vividly the travails of the Tamils as he narrates his own progress in his career which ended on 31st. July 1979.

After retirement, the author takes up teaching in Zambia and then in South Africa for the next eighteen years when tragedy struck in the form of the gruesome death of their son Chooti at the hands of car hijackers. The author and family then moved to New Zealand. He is proud that his country of adoption has an unsurpassed natural beauty. He is happy to observe that nearly all the Sri Lankans who sought to settle in that country are enjoying their life there. As we read his story we weep when he suffers a set back, we are happy when he succeeds and we marvel at his extraordinary memory, his courage to stick to the straight path and convictions. As we come to the end of the narrative, we are convinced with an irresistible feeling that God will be with those who do their duties sincerely and honestly.

I wish Thiru Karthigsasoo Jeganathan and his family a long, happy and peaceful life and recommend this autobiography to every Tamil.


Publishers Note

It gives me great pleasure to have had the good opportunity to print and publish the book, "MEMORIES ARE FOR EVER", an autobiography of Thiru Karthigasoo Jeganathan of Auckland, New Zealand. This opportunity came to me through Thiru K.Sachidananthan, a distinguished Tamil scholar, proprietor of Kaanthalakam publications, and former advisor to the UNO. Although Mr. K.Jeganathan and myself have not met in person so far, we have exchanged our views through e-mail now and then, and this has led to the publication of this book.

Generally, an autobiography is a piece of literature which helps to increase one's knowledge, and induce a person to engage in social services. So far autobiographies appeared only of those who have distinguished themselves by their thoughts and deeds — leaders occupying top positions, Industrial magnets who have risen to great heights through sheer hard work, and those who have reached the peak of success, fame and publicity. Contrary to this tradition, it is praiseworthy that we have here, the autobiography of an ordinary and simple man who retired as an English teacher.

Thiru K.Jeganathan has recorded in an interesting manner, his experiences of half a century, without the aid of any documentation whatsoever, but depending solely on his memory to furnish not only dates but even the days of the week. He claims that this venture was undertaken merely to inform his children and grand-children about the kind of life lead by their forefathers. We, Tamils in general, are not inclined to record our experiences. That's why we do not have many autobiographies. Thiru K.Jeganathan has attempted to change this trend by placing on record several historical events, there by becoming a role model, and setting an example for others to follow.

Several people have helped me in the production of this book. I am deeply indebted to Dr. (Prof)S.Muthukumaran, Former Vice Chancellor of the Bharathidasan University, and Secretary of the Tamilnadu State Council for Higher Education, who, despite a recent surgery for the removal of cataract in both his eyes, complied with our request and has given an excellent write-up to this book. Dr (Mrs.) Parvathi Vasudev, a retired professor of English, has rendered valuable assistance by going through the proofs carefully and writing a review about the book and a note on the author. I am deeply indebted to both of them.

Tamils all over the world should buy and read this book and inspire others to produce more and more such books.

Chennai Era. Mathivaanan
15-12-2005 Publisher


Review by Carlton Samarajiwa

People have different motivations for writing their life stories, but whatever they are, autobiographies and biographies always provide valuable and absorbing reading. I remember as a teenager reading the Story of my Experiments with Truth, the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi, and a few years ago Long Walk to Freedom, the memoirs of the outstanding moral and political leader of our time Nelson Mandela, and being deeply inspired by both. Reading the autobiography of Karthigasoo Jeganathan, Memories Are For Ever, has been a totally different experience and a closer one, an experience which I could relate to personally because it is the story of a fellow teacher whom I have known for the last more than fifty years but who is by no means a world renowned figure like Gandhi and Mandela!  But ordinary people too can earn renown and resonance in the hearts of family and friends. This is the second teacher-autobiography I have read, the first being Chalk in My Hair  by Balam many, many years ago. The prodding for Jega to write his story had come from his friend and Director of Education the late Mr.A.T.Samarapala. Unfortunately, he is not among the living to read the fruit of his persuasion. Nor is his friend K.B.Ratnayake, former Speaker of Parliament, who encouraged him and wrote the Foreword to the book. 

My first reaction to Jega’s superbly produced hard cover book running into 13 chapters of 616 pages was one of unreserved admiration for his prodigious memory and remarkable stamina in gathering together his thoughts and remembrances of things past and sitting down over a period of five long years to document them. The story covers more than the psalmist’s span of three score and ten: from his birth, childhood and primary education in the Sate of Perak in the Federated Malay States, the return of the family to the oldest village in Jaffna, Tholpuram, secondary education at Victoria College, tertiary education at Jaffna College, life as a fledgling teacher in Nainativu (Nagadipa) and Karanavai, teacher training at Government Training College, Maharagama and there membership of the College Council and love at first sight, life as an English secondary trained teacher in various Jaffna schools, marriage and raising a family, graduation from University of London, principalship of Vivekananda College in Anuradhapura and Hindu College in Ratmalana, retirement from the Sri Lanka Educational Administrative Service, and then “in search of gold and glory” as an expartriate teacher in Africa and finally migration to New Zealand and later to Australia. 

This book is not only a personal story but also a perceptive sociological commentary on Jega’s life and times, people and events, politics and society, and other aspects of the passing scene which he observed keenly. I read the book from cover to cover as soon as he made it available to me all the way from Perth, where he now resides in retirement with his family.

Many of the experiences he narrates ring a bell for me and revive old memories of the early 1950s when he and I and also his wife to be, pretty and popular Shakuntala Nataraja, followed the two-year English teacher training course at the Government Training College, Maharagama, under the benign principalship of the late S.F.de Silva and his deputy C.N.C.Jayawardena and the tutelage of eminent lecturers such as Douglas Walatara, Evelyn Geddes and Augustine Tambimuttu (English), J.E.Jayasuriya, S.Thangarajah and Karalakulasingham (Mathematics and Science), Senerath Wanigatunga and P. Thenabadu (Sinhala), Dr.Ponniah and K.P.Ratnam (Tamil), W.M.A.Warnasuriya and G.D.Wijayawardana (History and Geography), D.G.Sugathadasa, Mrs C.N.E.de Mel and Ms Hilda Peiris (Educational Theory and Psychology) and Duncan White, Leslie Handunge and the latter’s sister Mrs Norah Pate (Physical Education), to mention only a few. 

Jega brings back “memories that linger” of those gloriously memorable days at GTC, where Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim and Burgher men and women from various backgrounds and faiths and of age groups ranging from the early twenties to the early forties spent two years together in residence without even the slightest trace of ethnic prejudice. My room mate, for instance, was Vedanayagam from Kayts and my adjoining room was shared by D.C.P.Ratnakara from Gampaha and V.Rajasunderam from Chulipuram. I visited both Veda and Raja in Kayts and Chulipuram respectively when I went to Jaffna on a trip years later with friends. They treated us “like dukes’ and with typical Jaffna hospitality. On a later occasion when I went to Jaffna with Director of Education Mrs Ratna Navaratnam to conduct an English teachers’ seminar, Raja who was a participant, did not allow me to take the “night mail” back to Colombo. Instead he took me in his car to his home and kept me there for a whole week, he and his wife lavishing hospitality on me. But such visits are only memories of the past and no longer possible; in any case, those dear friends have been called to their reward – “rest of their bones and soul’s delivery”. (Raja was killed by the Tigers, I was recently told by one of his students from Victoria College to my utter dismay.) 

Jega also revives in my ageing mind memories of Zambia, where he and I did a teaching spell in the same school Kamwala Secondary School, and from where he went on to seek his fortune in Transkei and I my roots in Sri Lanka. The Zambian memory is of a different dimension. We went there as expatriate teachers perhaps at the wrong time in the histroy of that Republic: the border with Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) had been closed and the free flow of goods from the South had stopped, inflation was high, goods were scarce, crime was rampant, car thefts a regular occurrence, the economy far from prosperous and life not very pleasant – not at least for those who worked in the government sector. 

Be that as it may, Jega went there after a distinguished and also chequered career as a teacher and principal back home and he was free and unfettered to make the best of the circumstances that Fate had decreed for him. He had seen the best of times and the worst of times in Sri Lanka. The worst was the destruction of house and property and the threat to life during two race riots. In the Black July of 1983, Jega’s two sons Jana and Sanjay, who were pursuing their education in Colombo and living in their house in Mt Lavinia, had gone through the trauma of losing everything except their lives. The help and succour provided by Jega’s many Sinhalese friends is gratefully recalled. Six years earlier, “Brindaban”, the stately residence of Shakuntala’s father, the eminent lawyer Sampanther Nataraja was set on fire by the mobs. There was also Jega’s experience of unlawful incarceration.on a trumped up charge engineered by an enemy, all of which is narrated in his book. 

He had only memories of his country, and no permanent interests and nothing in the form of worldly property to lose. Now in Lusaka, his indomitable spirit stood him in good stead and took him further South in the Dark Continent to Transkei, where he earned ample recompense for the deprivations, disappointments and distresses that formed part of his earlier life. Both he and his wife (trained University of London graduate teachers) rose to the rank of lecturer at Butterworth College of Education, their two sons gained admission to the University of Transkei (UNITRA), Jega, a lover of big cars, bought a brand new Mercedes Benz (in sharp contrast to the second hand Fiat 127 he owned in Lusaka but reminiscent of the Standard Vanguard he drove in Jaffna to the nvy of those who drove Morris Minors, Austins and Fords, and for which he paid only Rs.17,000). Jega and Shakuntala travelled widely in South Africa, earned good money, did a world tour, and in many ways led the good life, a kind of la dolce vita but suitably restrained by their Hindu upbringing and values. 

But as inexorable Fate would have it, Jega and Shakuntala also faced an unbearable tragedy in their life in Transkei. His younger son Pradeep, who was on the threshold of a promising professional career having just completed his thesis for a Ph.D. degree, was brutally murdered by car hijackers. Car hijacking had become a highly lucrative industry run by a South Africa cartel; unemployed youths were drugged, armed and detailed to hijack selected cars such as BMWs. Pradeep, a BMW fan, had just bought a factory fresh BMW 535. He preferred this model even to the Mercedes Benz, his father’s love. His hijackers not only took away his car, the keys of which he handed over to them, but also murdered him. The promising life of a loveable son and brother and a gifted mathematician and talented musician was felled by goons who cared absolutely nothing for the sanctity of life. Nothing counted against their humanity. 

These are the words of the inconsolable father distraught with grief:- 

“Chooti (the son) was getting late to return home from Umtata …….Myrhili was constantly telephoning to ask if Chooti had arrived……. There was a knock at our door and Shakuntala told Mythili that Chooti seemed to have arrived…. ‘But the knock did not sound like Chooti’s,’ said Jega. However, I walked to the door and opened it to find a Xhosa woman living downstairs and she said that some Indian seemed to have been killed in front of our apartment…… I walked down the stairs and on the side of road, under the street lamp I found my own darling son lying face downwards in a pool of blood. I was petrified and yet I shouted to Shakuntala saying: ‘It is Chooti; it is Chooti….’

“To Shakuntala and to me it was like losing a part of ourselves and the pain would last for ever in our hearts. We had all along believed in the Law of Karma and yet it had left us with many unanswered questions.” 

I read about this gruesome tragedy that led to the death and cremation of a Sri Lankan son in an African crematorium in a local newspaper but had absolutely no way of condoling with Jega and Shakuntala and sharing their unspeakable grief because I had absolutely no idea of how and where to contact them. Ironically, it was Memories Are For Ever  that renewed a long lost connection and gave me details of the horrible experience that Jega and his family had gone through in the midst of their happy and contented life they had earned for themselves in another land. In the midst of life we are in death. 

Jega had somehow found my address and sent me a “letter from a colleague, who reconnected with you in Lusaka and is again trying to reconnect after some twenty five years” and requesting me to write a review of his book. This effort to review his book is the least I can do for Jega and Shakuntala, with whom I taught in Zambia, and his son Pradeep and daughter Mythili, whom I briefly tutored at No5, Vulture Court. 

An autobiography, among other things, contains counsel on matters of personal relevance in one’s life. Read Jega’s story to learn how to cope with and overcome challenges, pitfalls, slings and arrows, storms and tempests, betrayals and jealousy, pettiness and machination. The field of education is Sri Lanka is fraught with such hazards, and Jega writes about his experiences with them as well as the brighter aspects of life as teacher-trainee at Maharagama, teacher at several schools in Jaffan and as principal of Vivekananda and Hindu College. I recommend the book as essential reading for teachers and that it be acquired for every teachers’ college and staff room library. 

Jega, an accomplished go-getter and survivor, also shows one how to get on with one’s relatives including in-laws, superiors, peers, and subordinates, neighbours and strangers who form the inevitable human community one has to be part of. There is also authentic advice, though not given with any sense of self-righteousnes, on how to kick the self-slaving habit of smoking and drinking, to which Jega was no stranger in his youth, as he candidly admits: “I was an inveterate smoker consuming about thirty cigarettes a day.” 

All in all, reading Memories Are For Ever has been for me a memorable experience. Only, I wish the lengthy chapters were split into shorter ones under a different title to make for easy reference, and that “an year” so often repeated were changed to “a year”. A subject index too would have been a useful appendix to a volume that can serve as a reference book. These are negligible minor flaws, hardly worth a mention, in a moving as well as gripping story of a teacher, whose final wish, stated poignantly and philosophically at the end, is for a “life with less suffering and a swift departure”.


From the Preface...

The idea of writing a book on my experiences as a teacher, principal, and as a lecturer first came from my late friend A.T.Samarapala. We were good friends and kept in close touch through regular correspondence. He retired a few years earlier than me and was already in the process of writing a book. I retired on 31 December 1997 and when I expressed my genuine fears about the inactivity and indolence which would follow retirement in a foreign country, he suggested that I seriously consider writing of some sort.

Two years have passed by so swiftly since I retired and my friend too has passed away, and I find myself taking the plunge to narrate my experiences over my uninterrupted service of fifty years as teacher, principal and lecturer. The enormity of the task naturally daunts me for two reasons. In the first place, apart from writing reports (as a principal) and letters to my friends, I have had little experience in writing. Secondly, to cover incidents and events chronologically without the aid of documentary material is, to say the least, both difficult and ambitious. However, what gave me some confidence was the strength of my memory. During my days as a student, it was this gift of a good memory that helped me. Nevertheless, while launching on an adventure like this, I admit that memory is not infallible; it is also inevitably selective. My readers will therefore, have to bear with me in view of these handicaps.

Teaching as a career is certainly not the first choice of many. Ballam in his book "Chalk in My Hair" wrote that teachers are a most disgruntled lot. The demands of the profession are stupendous, while the remuneration (in Sri Lanka) is measly. Its ranks are mostly swelled by those who found it as a last choice and the result is jealousy, backbiting, and subterfuge, Education has been the hobby horse of politicians since Sri Lanka's independence and they manipulated it with ruthless dexterity caring little for the long-term ramifications resulting from their selfish actions. The system of appointments, transfers and promotions was a matter of public scandal. Political affiliations, connections in high places and different forms of corruption took precedence over hard work, sheer merit, professional competence and high standing in the school community. Little wonder then, that in this growing culture of perverted values, dissatisfaction and frustration spread like cancer which poisoned the teaching profession.

On the other hand, the all too frequent tinkering with the content of education with absolute disregard to the feasibility of the changes introduced, led to further discontent. To have survived sixteen years as a teacher away from one's hometown, and amidst inadequate basic facilities, was indeed an achievement . Perhaps it was the resilience and survival ability gained over these years that equipped me for a further sixteen years as Principal. Though the change gave a boost to my self esteem and an impetus to prove my competence as an administrator and to show real progress in all spheres of school activity, the odds on the other side were far too challenging and sometimes dangerous. Nevertheless, the trials and tribulations I had to overcome, during my stewardship of the two schools in Anuradhapura and Colombo made me a better and fuller human being and prepared me for the challenging scenario of the third phase of my career — the 'African Safari'.

The system of education and the set-up of schools and Colleges of Education in Africa bear very few similarities with what prevailed in Sri Lanka. The decision to seek pre-mature retirement and quit the shores of my own native land was one made for purely compelling reasons. It was not an easy or voluntary choice. The initial trauma caused by that change was similar to what one would experience when an arm or a leg had been amputated. But as the years rolled by, I began to enjoy our life there. Work was challenging and yet highly rewarding. My sons were able to pursue their ambitions and acquit themselves creditably. Financially too I gained and as everything seemed to be cruising as desired, in the late evening of my long career, tragedy struck me and my family in the most horrendous form and our lives were turned topsy-turvy.

I do not know what publishers would think about my writing, nor do I know if my book would reach out to many readers across the globe The purpose of this book is mainly self fulfilling — I had an urge torecount my experiences and since I had the time to write, I did so. Reliving past experiences excites one with both sadness and joy. I know for sure that my grandchildren at least would want to know how their forbears fared in times and circumstances vastly different from theirs. At least that might justify my efforts.

If ever I have to acknowledge any help or support, I must do it wholeheartedly to my loving wife Shakuntala. Ever since the time I came to first know her fifty years ago, the part she played in my life — every bit of it -- all the way was exceptional, perennial, constructive, and inspiring in every detail. Apart from supplementing my memories, reading through and correcting my scripts, she was the sole motivating force behind the whole exercise. In the event of this book reaching out to a wider section of discriminatory and critical readers, I crave their indulgence for any shortcomings they may notice.

(K. Jeganathan)
Karthigasoo Jeganathan


Epilogue

The long journey Shakuntala and I had started from Nainativu Junior School and Anuradhapura Holy Family Convent took us over tortuous and exhausting paths in Sri Lanka and Africa for half a century. The writing about my experiences over the years was done by fits and starts from 1999 when I was 72. I started the writing by hand on a note book; but as I progressed, I realised that my handwriting was getting unsteady. The next step was to start word processing on Chooti's computer which was by now obsolete. I managed to write the first few chapters which took nearly three years. My friend Mr.A.T.Samarapala who first planted the idea of documenting my experiences, had also passed away when I had begun the first couple of chapters.

My other friend Mr.K.B.Ratnayake who also gave me much encouragement was able to read through the manuscript of most of the chapters and was kind enough to write the foreword. As I was struggling through. I was distressed to hear about his failing health incapacitating him greatly. It will always be a matter of great regret for me that he could not live to see the final publication of my book. It had really taken me more than five years to complete my writing. There was also a delay of more than an year to go through the official channels to obtain a certified copy of the evidence I had given in front of the Special Presidential Commission about the gross abuse of power by the Bribery Commissioner. This was very important since it illustrated the truth of my innocence and the evil and arrogance of those who unsuccessfully plotted against me. I suppose I could be pardoned for the delay not only caused by infirmity of age, but due to my inability to find a publisher who could publish the book within my budget. One publisher (in Colombo) kept my manuscript for five months and I was dissatisfied with him. I had to find another in Tamil Nadu. I was beginning to experience health problems and Shakuntala too had begun to crack up under the duress of multiple ailments despite which she was able to give her undivided attention to the task of correcting and proof reading.

New Zealand is a beautiful country and its people are among the finest in the world. We had no difficulty in merging with the Kiwis or the Maoris- they are all kind and accommodating. They have a wonderful quality of respecting people of other races and religions. The elders have a special place in their hearts and we benefited from it. The government gives lavish subsidies to seniors in various forms. There are many Senior Citizens Associations and we joined one. Health Care, disability support and even free domestic care are given to elders.

We and our children and grandchildren had chosen to live here (in Auckland) for the past six years. Except for the extreme cold during the winter season and the high humidity in the air, we have very little to complain. This is the fifth country of our domicile (Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Zambia and South Africa being the other four). For me and for Shakuntala it has been a unique experience after leaving our motherland in the wake of the pogrom of 1977. Whatever little hope we entertained about returning to our motherland was lost with the loss of our home and its contents in the worst of the pogroms of 1983.

We had lost all our material possessions and consoled ourselves thinking that we would have nothing more to lose; but Fate was more cruel to have snatched away our beloved son in 1997. To cushion the blow, Providence has been kind to give us two more grandchildren – Amitabh on 25 July 2000 and Abarna on 26 August 2001. It is our hope that we could lead the remaining few years of our lives not far away from our children and grandchildren. We have thus far managed to live by ourselves and look after ourselves as best as our health and mobility could permit. Both my father and Shakuntala's father lived up to eighty four; whether we could go up to that age is a matter for Providence to decide. All we could wish and pray for, is a life with less suffering and a swift departure.

Karthigasoo Jeganathan

 

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