Papa’s famous quote is, “Rivers only flow one direction always to lower ground.” In very much the same way, his life of sacrifices – denying himself of material pleasures and setting aside money for our education – is exemplary of how a father’s love should flow towards his children. He was the breadwinner. He was the provider. None of us children had to sustain the family even when Papa was in financial difficulties. He alone took on the burden of providing for his family.

            As children, we have always found our Papa very approachable. He does not distance himself from any of his children. We could always talk to him about almost anything under the sun. Although his business was important to him, and he would spend a lot of time at the pharmacy, on our birthdays, he and Mum would never fail to buy us a cake and have a small celebration in the house. There were five of us. It was never easy for him and Mum, but as a father, he has always been the provider. We cannot forget his love for all of us. We are so privileged to be born into the K. John. Kuruvilla’s family.            

            As Ravi points out, his is clearly an unconditional love.  “Growing up, there was never a question on my mind that my Papa loved all of us.  Not only was he the great provider in terms of finances, but his commitment to each of us was even more demonstrative. I sometimes felt that he was living his entire life to give us a hope and a future.” 

            One way he clearly showed this love was in the way he supported and stood by Vijayan throughout his education in India. He never gave up on him.  I remember him telling us that King Alfred of England was once almost giving up on a battle, but then while resting under a tree, he saw a spider spinning a web and noticed that the spider tried many times and finally it succeeded with a jump.  Premised on that he said he would never give up on any of us in terms of education and would supply for all our needs.  Therefore, almost all of us were on the FaMa (or Father-Mother) scholarships for our education.  Although he was a strict person, he was loving too and somewhat long-suffering towards us.

            Our sister, Petsy will tell you another interesting observation: “With the money he spent on our education, he could have had many properties and made trips oversees for his own pleasure. He fulfilled his responsibility as a father, who was always providing for us financially. He has truly exemplified the saying, `Rivers only flow one direction,’ because now we too provide for our children in very much the same way.” Hopefully, this is a value we too will pass on for our children.

 

A Reflection of Our Heavenly Father’s love

 

            Papa’s love for us reflects very much the way how God, our Heavenly Father, has loved us as Ravi looks back. “My Father’s graciousness and love always affirms me and I am always secure in knowing his love for me; even at times when I hurt his feelings much and did not deserve it. This is consistent with the promise in the Scriptures, where God said, `I will never leave you nor forsake you’.”

            Till today, Papa attests his good life to God's superintendence of every event, even the most difficult ones. There were occasional bouts of poor temperaments, but the fact that he was able to laugh at himself is a testimony of his love. This love showed very clearly in the way he cared and took care of Mum in the last few years.  While most of us tended to get impatient with Mum over small matters, he never complained and stood by her till her last day. 

 

 

Love for Mummy

 

            Papa’s care and concern for Mummy, when she was not well, is simply amazing. One word that crosses our minds which describes his relationship towards the girl he married is the word, “Loyalty”. They have gone through thick and thin for sixty good years (1948-2008) of their lives together until Mummy went home to be with the Lord on December 21, 2008. He was the traditional Malayalee Male, who cared for Mummy, was faithful and took care for all her needs, yet not sure know how to express his emotions towards his wife whom he loves. An observation made by our brother, Mohan is worth quoting here:

 

“Papa loved Mummy, but did not think he had to share everything with her. However, she had her share in the decision making following the traditional Malayalee model. Occasionally, they had their quarrels     but she always stood up for herself. He was always fair and equal to all the      children and grandchildren, and always encouraged the ones who were   left behind at any stage of the lives to do better and to improve themselves.”

 

            Even our sister-in-law, Shirley is quick to point out that Papa has proven himself to be a loving partner for Mummy. “He was always making sure that Mummy had her food (even checking on what had been served to her), reminding her to have her bath when she was suffering from dementia. Of course, there have been many times when he would be at the end of his tether because of Mum’s dementia, but after an outburst, he would remind himself and us that she was not well.”

            As a result of Papa’s love for Mummy, she was able to shower her love through her cooking for us! Mummy slaved away in the kitchen and gave us the most satisfying meals. When we moved out on our own, she always made sure she prepared our favourite dishes whenever we visited them in our family home in Sungai Petani. For Vijayan she made beef paratel, for Ravi it was chicken varewal, for Pearly it was her coconut milk chicken curry with kachia moru. And, for Mohan who liked most of mummy’s cooking, she made putu, while for Petsy she prepared her prawn curry with coconut bits.

 

 

Love for his children

 

 

            There is a saying, `Spare the rod, spoil the child.’ As a father who loved his children, Papa would make every effort to discipline us whenever the occasion warrants it. Both Papa and Mummy were strict disciplinarians.

            Mohan has this to add:

 

“All of us siblings have been disciplined by our parents. It could have been when we have been disobedient or when we had bullied one other. Although there was the momentary resentment, we all realized that we deserved it most of the times and their love for us had not diminished. It did help shape our character.”

 

            Occasionally, there was a verbal reprimand, especially when we were being ‘improper’, but generally, he was very supportive and understanding. Pearly shares her own experience:

 

“After graduation, I was back home and teaching as an attachment teacher at Ibrahim school. I was very involved in games and I played netball for the Kedah State Education team from 1974 for two years before I left to do a Diploma in teaching. My father never objected to my being active in sports (but wearing shorts around the house was another thing!)

 

            Being father, he also made sure his children were given a fair deal at home and in school. Being very protective of his children, Papa was furious when told that our younger brother Mohan, who was in Standard 5, had been bullied by another older boy on the bus. He immediately tailed the bus in his car in his Ford Counsel and when it halted at the next stop, Papa got up the bus, and gave the bully a trashing we are sure he never forgets, telling him never to bully any other children again. Since then, the terrified boy probably never repeated the act again.

            When Petsy and Mamman George were “getting to know” each other, our Papa was also very kind not to impose his views but allowed them to make their own decisions. Petsy’s choice was someone who was a committed Christian, but she also wanted to honour Papa by marrying into the Malayalee community. The Malayalee community in Malaysia was a small and close-knit community. In those days, it was difficult to ‘date someone,’ and if the relationship did not work out, the girl was always at the losing end. It is a difficult stigma for the girl to bear if she has a reputation of a failed relationship.

                             In restrospect, Mamman George reveals the private arrangement he had with Petsy, which Papa did not know about: “We gave ourselves six months to get acquainted with each other. We told ourselves that if by the end of the year, -- the relationship did not work, we would quietly part. Had he come to know about it, we believe that he would have no objection, knowing that the separation would have been better than to divorce later.”

            Such was the kind of love that our Papa demonstrated towards his offspring.

 

 

 

Up to you, Dr. John, to persuade him:

 

[Vijayan should share something of what he experienced about Papa’s love in this chapter]. Stephen, please call Lysa or Vijayan or email Vijayan and getn him to give at least on small quote about how he experienced Papa’s love.  He was loved much because he “fumbled much!”  Surely he felt and knows this!  That is one reason he spent RM30,000 to host the 80th Bday party!

 

 

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