Way back during my tryst with journalism, Mani sir was my Editor, though my actual mentors were P K Balakrishnan sir, S Jayachandran sir and G Venugopal sir. Even after becoming a fortune hunter in the shifting sands of Gulf, at his insistence I used to write a monthly feature titled “Letter from Gulf” in ‘Kala Kaumudi’ that had ran for quite some time.
Years later, a week after I got married, my father took his daughter-in-law and me before an ailing K Sukumaran sir (Mani sir’s father). As the old connoisseur was trying to find out more about ‘Assumption College’ and some of her teachers from my wife, Mani sir came in with with a double column news print of the next day’s editorial. Before he left Mani sir told my father that all three of us will have dinner at his Kumarapuram home the next day.
While Kasthuri chechi was serving us ‘chappathi’ and ‘veg. kurma’ at the designated time the next day, then-chief minister A K Antony called Mani sir proposing that they meet right away. Apologising, Mani sir left abruptly. However, before he left, he hugged me and blessed my wife placing his palm over her head.
Since then so much of water flowed under the bridge without letting us meet again. May be because he was the eldest, with the true spirit of journalism in his veins, life became harder for him than it was for some of his family members. Lately, among other things, Mani sir was coming to terms with a problem in his vision. Last September when I was speaking with Kasthuri chechi over the phone, he was trying to read the morning newspapers with the help of a magnifying glass. He was one of the last Samurais who didn’t deserve what he got.