Prof. PM Jussay

To Dad with love!

A Tribute to Prof. Jussay
Chennamangalam - a village with a Jewish history
Kerala Jews and their songs
Books written by Prof. Jussay
To Dad with love!
First Death Anniversary
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The speech given by Terry on May 1, 2007 at Prof. Jussay Nagar, Kakkanad, Cochin on “ Prof. Jussay Day” organized by the RECCAA, Cochin Chapter ( Regional Engineering College, Calicut Alumni Association

Dear Reccaaites,

First of all let me on behalf of my Mom and on behalf of our entire family thank you all for visiting us during the funeral of my Dad and comforting us.

Its is just over a month since he left us for his eternal abode – We are slowly coming to terms with the fact that he is not around any more. Yes, he was unusually dormant for the last few weeks and may be we should have anticipated the end soon. But death is always an uninvited guest, a tough reality and may be we refused to accept it.

RECCAA was always something that was very close to his heart. Even when his physical body refused to budge to his mental desire to attend the meetings in the last one or two years, he still wanted to be kept informed about everything happening here. We have seen his laughter and cheerfulness coming back when he see a Reccaaite and I must admit that we sure felt envious of you guys, that he longed to see you all more than us! He often said, that he felt very refreshed after spending some time with you all.

Few days back Devadas told me that RECCA is dedicating this years May 1st meeting for Dad and that our family should attend and I should speak something about him on behalf of our family. I personally feel at least some among you know him equally well or even better than us. I would still try to remember and share with you some leaves from his life.

As some of you know he did most of his studies in St. Joseph’s College, Trichi and Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu and started his profession there. In those days St. Joseph’s College was a very prestigious institution which produced some of the elites of India. He has told me, some of his class mates were leading personalities in Indian & Tamil Nadu politics like PC Alexander ,C Subramaniam, Mathiyashakan etc. Other day I read an article on him that appeared in a news paper, and is say, he made lot of friends during his days in Tamil Nadu which included the first President of India, Dr. S Radhakrishnan and Dr. CV Raman, the Nobel laureate.

He always had a huge ring of friends from every walk of life…and he enjoyed being in touch with them in every possible way. I remember, when I was a small in Calicut, he he use to have a separate circle of friends among the writers and scribes who often come to our quartesr in the campus. They all joined together to form something called Kerala Sahtya Samithi….most of them clad in long kurthas made from rough cotton cloth, some of them with long hair locks… smoking dinesh beedi….and by the time they are leaving most of them highly intoxicated…yes now I can recall the their names..very familiar..MT Vasudevan Nair, Aravindan, KT Mohammed, Uroob…SK Pottakkad..were some of them..

It was during one such session he was forced to Study about the Jews of Kerala and it is an interesting incident often recalled by him . Prof. Mundassery who was the President of the Kerala Sahtya Samithi one day during the meeting put forward a proposal " let us all join together and write a book on the people of Kerala. Every community should be represented here. Each one should write an article about his community giving its origin, development, customs and manners. The articles should be ready within three months. Mr. Krishna Warrier will collect them and publish them as a special edition of Mathrubhoomi Weekly". All welcomed the proposal with enthusiasm. Mundasseri said that he will write about Christians and call it the "Confessions of a Sinful Christian". It was received with applause. Then Krishna Warrier got up and declared quoting a line from Kunjan Nambiar that he would massacre all the "Ambala Vasis". Again there was applause and laughter. Then Kesavadev loudly declared that he would at one stroke break the toddy pot of the Ezhavas. This was followed by MT Vasudevan Nair, "I shall hang the ruined Nair on the beam of his Nalukettu". Then it was the turn of KT Mohammed to declare that he would perform the Sunnath of the Muslim. The meeting was about to come to an end it was then Dad stood up and said "Sir, you have left out a community – the Jews!.

"Oh yes", Prof Mundassery said, "you crucify them!"

This is how he was drawn to the Jews of Kerala…But except Dad none of them kept their words and hence the project did not take place..But Krishna warriar published his work as a leading article in Mathrobhoomi daily and that was the first time an Indian wrote an article on the Jews of Kerala and it was well received. This encouraged him to study about the Jews in depth and he went on to give a talk on the All India Radio and also wrote some articles in English news papers. This had tremendous response from all over the Jewish world. He got a invitation from Department of Anthropology of ITHACA College in New York and Ben-Zvi Institute- a wing of the Jerusalem University to jointly work on the project " Jews of Kerala".

Very soon he retired from REC and came to Cochin where had more time to work on the project. With a grant from Roth Schild Foundation, New York, he left for Israel to work at the Jerusalam University. He spent almost 6 months in Israel during which he published many papers from Ben Zvi Institute. His stay in Israel got longer than expected and he had by then exhausted his funds. It was then, the then President of Israel Mr. Yitzhak Navonn who came to know about his work, gave him a personal interview and offered to provide him with more funds to complete the work. I still remember, every week he would sent us letter from Israel describing in detail about his travel to each place and it was the next best thing to actually being there! He travelled extensively in Israel and his letters were later published as a travelogue in Kerala Times Daily.

He was a vivid and seasoned traveller who had an uncanny skill of making the very best from each trip he went abroad. And he won’t forget to write back home every week in detail about his trave ofte mixed with lot of humour. I remember when he went to Europe it was one of my close friend, Tilly Spieglenberg, a dutch girl ,who received him at the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. In his first letter, he had a dig at me; Your girl friend Tilly was at the Airport to receive me.. she is indeed very beautiful like the Tulips flower!!

After he finished his official phase of the tour, he would go backpacking throughout Europe making full use of his Eurail pass and he was an expert on it. He would board the train at night, sleep in it and next morning where ever the train reaches he would get out and go around that place and this way he saved on hotel accomodation! Often he make new friends and once he met a very rich man who was quite impressed by him ,invited him to his house in Berene in Switzerland and made him enjoy his hospitality for a couple of days! Imagine these were all after his retirement from REC!

He was very close to Late Prof. Buckingham, a faculty of the London School of Oriental Studies with whom he stayed while in London. Prof. Buckingham with blue blood in his veins was a member of a Prestigious club in London that has only blue bloods and other aristocrats on membership. Dad was officially invited to this club on one evening and this was indeed a great honour for him.

I am sure you all must have noticed that barring the last 5 years he was very active. He was a very adventurous man and he liked the thrill of adventure. I don’t know if any one here had the experience of the adventure club started under him. Their first trip was to climb the chembra peak some where close to Balussery and it seems even at an age close to his retirement he was among the first few to reach the top!

He had a good taste for cultivation and he would plant banana trees in the entire area around our quarters which would give unbelievably high yields! Every where he has worked, he planted many fruit bearing trees and I am sure some of them are still giving good yield unless chopped down!

Another unique quality about him his patience…especially when it come to teaching. Some students who are extremely poor in English would come to him to learn English and he had once such student from Iran. May be some of you still remember Makhsood Ali Sade. When he first came to REC he hardly knew anything in English and he communicated with the help of two dictionaries-,one Persian to English and other English to Persian ..It seems he went to Prof. Sankaran Nair first for tution….and since he knew hardly anything in English Prof. Sankaran Nairr could not help him one bit as he could not even communicate with him. Then he came to dad for help..he could not say no to him seeing his pathetic situation….It was then we knew how patient he was and with lot of difficulty they were able to at least communicate with each other. A few days later when Makhsood met Prof. Bahauddin and told this:

I teach Sankaran Nair ..he no teach

I teach Jussay..he teach yes!

By the time he completed his engineering, he was speaking good enough English that he went to Europe for higher studies.

To my knowledge Dad had helped two right from his primary school days and the other after he got admission at REC. The first one lost his father when he was in 3rd or 4th standard and they were living on the minuscule income of his mother who worked as a maid servant. Though he belonged to Schedule Caste Community that received free education and financial help from Government, he had given up the idea for further studies since his mother felt she could not afford it. Dad through his contacts got him some assistance and even free boarding at Devagiri College from where he passed his pre degree with high marks. Again he did not bother to apply to REC, but chose to go for TTC that would give a job with in three years! On Dad’s compulsion he applied at REC and got admission. Today he is the Chief Engineer of Kerala Public Works Dept. He came to our house a few days back and was literally weeping before Dad’s photo..He said but for this great man I would not have gone this far in my life! But look at the irony..the second boy whom he helped to get some financial assistance from the Calicut Bishop was in the fore front of an agitation against him when he was the Chief Warden!

At home too he was a very friendly person ..always cool as a cucumber.. he rarely gets angry fact it was a coalition government in place ..with Mom from the conservative party and Dad from the liberals! Till my elder brothers moved out with their jobs, food time was always fun time at home. This is the time we discuss freely everything and though at the head of table he would be always at the receiving end! We could make fun of him or criticize him and it won’t make any difference! He was always a very contented and happy man and was careful not to hurt any one. Whenever Mom makes something special she wouldn’t dare to ask us about it as we would be bluntly critical while he would be ignorantly obliging to her liking!

In 1994 very accidentally he was diagnosed for Intestine Cancer and this was a shocking news as he still looked very healthy. I came to his hospital room and found him sleeping. I gained some strength and whispered to Mom that the biopsy result was positive for cancer and he should be operated immediately. When he got up, knowing him well enough, I decided to convey the news to him as otherwise he would ask us about the result. He did not show any emotions when I finally conveyed the dreaded news but immediately told me that he is not keen on getting operated as he had lived enough and had been lucky to see his grandchildren. Whatever I get now is bonus and so I don’t want to go through the troubles of a surgery which in any case is not going to help the cause! But I convinced him that he is still healthy enough to undergo a surgery which according to doctors is a must. He agreed to it immediately.

He was operated upon soon and it was successful too. The follow up Chemotherapy is usually very miserable but he did not show much discomfort at any point of the treatment which lasted 6 months. He faced that dreaded disease with a smile on his face and literally conquered it with his sheer will power! Very soon he was back on the track and life continued as usual to him. He remained very healthy till 2005 when finally the ageing process took its toll on him.

To many he was a respected teacher, a scholar known wide and far, a writer and journalist read many times over by his readers, a humanitarian who touched many a heart, a friend who was always there and a simple fellow human who could make every one around him smile! To us he was everything - a loving father, an inspiring head of the family, a beacon in the darkness and more than everything a great friend!

We are really lucky to have born for him and given another chance we still like to be his sons!

Let me on behalf of every one in our family thank you all once again for this great tribute to Dad and naming this place after him.

Thank you