My Thambi Uncle

Alas!! I will never see that benign smile again….

My heart broke into a thousand pieces when I saw his face being covered by the shroud and his casket being lowered in for his eternal rest…

My Thambi Uncle, my role model, my “Go To” person both during times of distress and during times of my victories has slowly slipped into oblivion.

He stood with me and stood by me as a “rock” that did not allow me to falter and did not allow me to fail…ever!!

He was my father’s colleague and a friend who was with us throughout my journey, since I was a toddler. He loved children and all of us used to run and rally around him just for the fun of his pranks, his jokes and his love…which was all pervading and unconditional… Everyone of us loved him, but there were a handful of us who enjoyed his love and patronage throughout our lives till he breathed his last on November 23, 2023.

My father and Thambi Uncle were colleagues and worked together in the Crude Distillation Unit of HPCL Refinery. Their friendship carried from the workplace to our homes and later into our whole journey of life as two families. My Dad and Uncle would visit each other almost every week and we would enjoy their banter which would range from anything between their workplace politics to International politics... 

Thambi Uncle decided to move into new job in Aramco, Saudi Arabia in the late 70s. I still vividly remember every one of us weeping bitterly as Uncle bid farewell and walked towards the Aircraft for his first flight on a new journey in KSA. While all of us were crying, his younger daughter Anju barely five years old, couldn’t understand that her “Appa” was travelling beyond the shores and would not return at least for a year, she gleefully yelled … ”Appa… get into that plane and go”… she was more excited that her Appa was going to fly in the plane….

Leela Aunty (his wife) and his lovely daughters Manju & Anju stuck together weathering the loneliness and waiting it out counting days and months before Uncle came home on his annual vacation. It used to a time of celebration for all of us… Having Thambi Uncle home was literally like Christmas coming home… He as like the proverbial “Santa Claus” who always had something for me…whether it was a couple of pens that proudly carried the Aramco logo or that “Hang Ten” Cap or that “Brut” Perfume…he never forgot a gift for me, every time he came home… I loved to listen to his stories of the life in Saudi Arabia, his escapades with the corrupt Customs officials and his adventures of missed flights…

I was so blessed to be privy to the love and care of not just Uncle but his entire family. I was with them throughout their journey and had always stood with them whenever they needed any kind of support in Uncle’s absence…I became a part of their family, and I was not alone…a few of my friends too enjoyed this privilege… Uncle and his family always had been that embodiment of love and care… love and affection that transcended all boundaries of language or religion…something which seems a rarity in today’s India. They imbibed and espoused his value systems of “universal love” and empathy for everyone…great values which seem to be eroding in the contemporary world…

For years on during my days in Vizag, I would be the first to wish them on Christmas morning and I would be the first to bite into that moist and delicious Christmas Cake that Leela Aunty was so adept of baking, year after year…

We (kids) grew, got married, branched out, some of us moved beyond the shores of Visakhapatnam. I moved to Saudi myself and then to Qatar but did not miss an opportunity to visit Uncle & Aunty.

Our love and fondness for each other only grew with the passage of time. His all-encompassing love got extended to my wife and kids too. 

Uncle, who was my father’s friend…the relation that we shared matured, and he became like my friend, and I could see him connect with my son as his friend…I honestly don’t think anyone in the world who could connect with people like Uncle did. He built that connection instantly with is smile, with his simplicity and his sincerity…his care and his compassion… 

He not only had a warm heart for us, who were his extended family but to even those who underprivileged ones, he came across. I still remember a “deaf & mute” person who was shunned by society but used to come often to Uncle’s home, where he was welcomed and served a hot meal…

To me personally, he was my role model. He showed me the way not by advice or coaching. He showed me the way by living his life. I strived to imbibe his values by just observing him, by just emulating him and by trying to practice what he stood for…

My friends in Toastmasters introduce me as a “Complete family Man” not realizing that these are values that I learnt from Thambi Uncle… to put my family first…above everything else…to support the needy as much as I can…like he did…to love without pretentions… to love demonstratively with a hug that spoke louder than words or expressions…

I last visited him in July…I was pained to see my Uncle rundown and looking a shadow of his original self who still demonstrated his love for me, my wife and my son…battling with his illness and fighting bravely like he fought with many odds all his life…

He hugged me tight for a few minutes and kissed me on my cheek as I bid goodbye…did not realize that it would the last goodbye…

My Thambi Uncle is gone…Anju’s Appa is gone… Asher and Yo have lost their Valliappa but he lives on and will live on in our hearts and through the hearts of our posterity since we will share the values that he espoused, the values that he passed on…his legacy will live on forever…..

RIP Thambi Uncle…We love you!!!


More by :  Suresh Kalathil

Top | Memoirs

Views: 865      Comments: 5

Comment It's a great touching piece of your writing about Thambi uncle. you havecportrayed it beautifully and brought the admirable qualities of Thambi uncle vividly before our eyes . The profound closeness of Thambi uncle to your family is irreplaceable. I must say that it is great delight which has left a lasting impression on me. Super.

Rangamani Ravi
16-Jan-2024 23:46 PM

Comment I immersed myself in your message, traversing the enchanting tales dedicated to Thambi Uncle. Your words paint a canvas of life's exquisite moments, each one delicately penned, especially the poignant narrative of a daughter yearning for her father to take flight, only to find herself missing him dearly later on—a testament to a truly noble soul.

Observing, Suresh, that those adorned with goodness seem to encounter a cascade of challenges, yet steadfastly cling to their unwavering principles. Thambi Uncle, your revered role model, bestowed upon you the fortune of residing within the pages of his goodwill—an abundance of blessings woven into the tapestry of your shared existence.

In your blog, I've discovered an anthology of narratives, each possessing a unique and captivating flavor. Every story unfolds with a charm that resonates deeply.

May the benevolent forces above continue to shower their blessings upon you, dear Suresh

Padmini Nair
09-Dec-2023 04:42 AM

Comment Heartfelt condolences in the sad demise of Thambi Uncle.Munna, your write up is so touching which shows your close association with Thimby uncle. Yoir description is so vivid that gives us a solid appearance of uncle at Yarada Park colony.We appreciate your concern fot him and his family.Best Wishes to youWife and children.pcs and Seethalakshmi

09-Dec-2023 00:36 AM

Comment Very heart warming rendition of the wonderful man. Though I did not know him so personally, I was visualise the bonding so vividly. Buddy, you make me proud with your articles. Keep it going.

Hubert Guerra
08-Dec-2023 19:43 PM

Comment Excellent Muna. So many sweet memories penned down your memory lane. Appreciate your memory and your love for Thambi uncle's family. I still remember the family coming to visit your family in yaradapark. I know Thambi uncle and aunty when they were just married and came to Vizag. May God give his soul peace and rest. Good write up Muna. Congratulations once again.

Yedidi Premalatha
08-Dec-2023 14:11 PM

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