“My father in law Adv. NC Elias finally succumbed to cancer today. A doughty man; this is probably the only battle he ever lost! RIP Elias Uncle!!”
A post I put on FB last week with a very heavy heart. I think the best compliment he received and will unfortunately never hear were part of the eulogies. A senior priest candidly confessed that he never paid much attention to the clergy and yet they respected him because of his innate humanness. The laity represented by the current President of the local cooperative bank of which Elias Uncle was President for 10+ years said the same thing! Not often that you hear the clergy and laity say the same thing!
I remember my very first conversation with him over the phone in 2004. Given that Maya and I were from different religions, we had assumed that there will be significant push back from the families and there was except that it did not come from the expected quarters! Anyway that’s a story for another day. The conversation that day with Elias Uncle went something like this:
Me: Sir, I am Ajith Nayar. I think Maya may have mentioned that I will be calling?
Elias Uncle: Yes she did, young man. What can I do for you?
Me: Sir, I called to seek your daughters hand in marriage
Elias Uncle: You mean “ask for your daughters hand in marriage”?
Me: Yes Sir, that’s what I meant
Elias Uncle: Not very good at English grammar are you?
A deflated balloon would be a perfect analogy of how I felt. Here I was trying to charm a man with my English and he literally rolls all over me! But that was the beginning of bond built over many a book, brandy and blasphemy!
Elias uncle had a definitive view of the world around him. Shaped as he was being the youngest in a family of many farmers with a close bond to the land and a natural affinity toward agriculture, he developed a major green thumb in his later years. He was sent to a Sanskrit school nearby and his fascination for the language and Hindu traditions including astrology continued into later life. After school and college, he joined the Kerala Government service as a labor officer. Marriage to a school teacher who provided the much needed encouragement and financial support (imagine that in the Kerala of the 70s) to become a lawyer happened in the meanwhile. A vocation he practiced till the age of 78. Life went on, children (2 boys and a girl), happiness and sorrow (the second boy died at the age of 22), passing of the spouse and finally his own passing.
Given the many blasphemous discussions (his words not mine) we have had, I was thinking what would be the conversation that Elias uncle would have with St. Peter at the pearly gates:
St. Peter: Welcome Son! We are indeed glad you came by!
Elias Uncle: Really? I honestly doubted you existed!!
St. Peter: Come on now Elias, you were born and brought up as a devout Christian. Why the loss of faith?
Elias Uncle: I never lost faith in humanity; only in puerile dogma passed off as belief by the so called guardians of faith you left behind and continue to encourage
St. Peter: It is an important part of our belief system Elias; the church espouses the word of our creator so that humans are saved from purgatory
Elias Uncle: With all due respect St. Peter, you want me to believe that our creator needs an organization, mortal(s) to represent him on earth and generals and soldiers to spread his word? Now I think you know why I spend a good part of my later life being a blasphemer?
St. Peter: Now, Now Elias, let’s not jump to any hasty conclusions here. I never said the creator needs any of that to spread his word. The humans are his only creation that he gave 2 unique characteristics to; emotions and rational thinking. I know that you think this is a perverse act by the creator as emotions normally over ride rational thinking. Well, he is the first to agree that he probably went slightly overboard on the emotion thingy! Hey…even he is entitled to make a mistake once in a while. You guys do it all the time and after all he made you in his image! Give him a break!
Elias Uncle: So? You let a bunch of morons run around in fancy clothes and cars spouting his word in a language that nobody understands while fighting over who gets the maximum share of money from which church dedicated to the creator? What nonsense is that?
St. Peter: Well; Those Morons also have a role in the grand scheme of things Elias! Without them fighting with each other over every trivial thing, the one faculty that the creator gave humans, the ability to arrive at a conscious decision on the balance of consideration would not exist. They would never hear opposing views and hence would not have been able to take a conscious decision
Elias Uncle: Hmmm….worth pondering! Have a decent drink here? Kind of thirsty. I prefer brandy if you have.
St. Peter: We normally have wine, but given that our own flock also invented brandy, we do keep some stock, you prefer brandy or cognac?
Elias Uncle: See, I still encourage the church, I remain faithful to brandy, the original hooch invented by the church.
St. Peter: Well, our Lord does things in mysterious ways! Welcome to Heaven!
Elias Uncle: Hmmm….Not sure but will try out the place anyway!