Monday, July 5, 2010
My Father, Eshwara Chandran
Whom the Gods love, die young...
What can I say about my father, Lt. Col. K.R.E. Chandran, who, despite being an Army officer of exceptional calibre, was yet the gentlest man that I have ever known? The eldest of three sons, he was the favourite and the most loved one in his family. What one noticed first about him was his smiling eyes, punctuated by a jerky laugh that came straight from his heart. When he joined the Indian Army, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was the epitome of an ideal soldier – patriotic, straightforward and chivalrous to the hilt. His penchant for the written word, and the beauty of his calligraphy, made his letters unique, especially in a time when people tended to speak more and write less. Even today, when he is no more with us, it is these letters, much read and frayed, which truly capture his spirit on paper.
The Army was an ideal backdrop as he set out to use his engineering skills and agile mind in various ways, both in peacetime and in war. His men adored him, fellow officers swore by him and ‘Sam’ Chandran, as many knew him, was slated to go far in life.
He was the balm to my mother’s fiery nature, always the quiet tensile strength behind her. Nalini was effervescent, like quicksilver. He tethered her down with his steadfast nature, taking care never to quell her myriad flights of imagination. Together they made magic, as they sat out to do everything they loved together, be it in the realm of entertainment, music, dramatics or literature. It was as if they were one soul in one body. When the children arrived, they only cemented the beautiful bond further. There was so much to be done, so many mountains yet to be climbed together!
Then came ‘the most unkindest cut’ of all...
Fate decided to take him away from his family at the young age of 42. There were many things about him that we missed – his quirky sense of humour, his wonderful writing style through which he imparted nuggets of wisdom that enriched me personally, his devotion towards his loved ones which made him the ideal son, the committed husband and the exceptional father... and above all, his steadfast presence that always made us feel that all was right with the world! On the 29th of January 1979, he passed away, having ensured that my mother would be able to face the world in her own forthright manner, but even today, after thirty long years, the void and the ache in our hearts remain. If there was one wish in all our hearts, it would be this...
“Would that he were still with us, his crown full silvery grey,
Would that his face were a map work of wrinkles, and that we could watch him age;
But we are denied this pleasure, only a photo remains,
To remind us of what he was, but not of what he would have been!”