On one occasion, Ravi could not believe what he learned from a conversation with Papa. It was during a trip back to Sungai Petani for father and son, as usual, when the conversation started. Due to financial constraints when the business was down, our Papa had to take a personal loan and was paying exorbitant interest rates for it. His monthly instalment was a hefty sum of RM700 a month, but the money went mainly to pay the interest. Of course, Ravi, being Ravi, confronted Papa about the loan he had taken.         

            “When I came to know about it, I was shocked. With my training in economics, I began asking him, `Why so high? Why did we take such an expensive loan?’”

            Papa simply kept quiet. Then, he replied: “I borrowed this money to educate you in Economics so you can speak to me like that.” The extent to which Papa would go to ensure our education became his mission and vision.

Overtaken by emotions, Ravi recalls: “Thereafter, I never questioned him about the loan anymore.” After his graduation, Ravi came up with a scheme to refinance their house with MBSB which allowed our Papa to settle the loan shark of all the outstanding amounts but still educate all the other siblings through university.

            Such was Papa’s determination to ensure his children’s education. In another instance, involving Vijayan, Papa had to downgrade from a bigger Ford Consul to a Ford Prefect, which was smaller, so that he had sufficient funds to pay for Vijayan’s return passage back to India. Vijayan was very touched. He immediately realized that Papa was a very practical man. If something had to be done, it had to be done. There were no second thoughts about it. Education was his top priority. His children were his precious little ones, and a complete university education for each was his goal.

            From these two incidents, we could tell what were his vision and mission in life. Precisely, Papa’s vision in life was to see the family successful in life, materially, spiritually and socially. He gave paramount importance to education, and he wanted them to be honest and upright citizens and be known and recognized in society. 

            As Petsy puts it, although our Papa came from a good background, they were not cash-rich. Yet, he has achieved his mission to put us on higher financial platform and he succeeded with flying colours. He wanted us to be good role models who worked hard under the grace of GOD. For to graduate with a degree was a big deal to him, but to have all having at least a post-graduate Diploma or Masters and two PhDs, came as a real bonus for him. We are proud to have a Father like him, and we believe he is also proud of us his children, as well as his grandchildren. This has left an impact in our lives that even with our own children now, we stress the importance of a good education.

            Coming towards the end of his life, if a eulogy were to be written of our Papa, we believe it would be:

 

“He worked hard to raise his family and served faithfully as his worship to God. While he was alive, he exemplified the words of the wise man, `Failures are the pillars behind every success’. He has always believed that he should never give up but should always strive to do better. His own life demonstrated that in that he had lived out the things he wanted us to emulate. He loved his family and made his contribution to society. He has indeed blessed many who have crossed his path.”

 

            His life has been lived with one single thing in mind: he wanted to put us on a higher financial platform – this, he has indeed succeeded!

 

 

Has he achieved his goals?

 

            One of his goals was to ensure all of his children had a good university education and that each of us would have a good life and a life partner.

            Looking back, all five of us have at least gone through some form of university education.

            Vijayan completed his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Agricultural Science in Bangalore, India. He later pursued his Master of Business Administration from the University of Bath, UK. His wife, Lysa Manavalan holds a Master of Science from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. Two of their children have graduated – Grace with a degree in Computer Engineering and is currently working as a software developer with an Australian company, while Rose has also just graduated recently with a degree in law from the United Kingdom. Their third and fourth boys, Antony and John, are still in school.

            Ravi’s decision to pursue his PhD was partly to fulfil his father’s wish to have a medical doctor in the family. “Because none of us wanted to become medical doctors, at least on my part, I did my PhD,” he laughs. “That at least fulfils part of our Papa’s dream.” Ravi’s undergraduate education was at University of Malaya, where he completed his Bachelor of Economics (Honours) and later his Master of Science in Business from University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he did a double major in Marketing and Management. His wife, Doreen also holds a Master of Science from University of Wisconsin. Their eldest son, Johann John graduated in the United States and is currently working as an executive with a company in California, USA. Their daughter, Daenielle John graduated in Sociology in USA and is also employed there. The other three boys, Josef, Isaak and Jeshua are still in public schools. Josef is currently in the US, waiting to get into the university.

            Our sister, Pearly, who had just retired as Principal of Convent Secondary School in Johor Baru on October 31, 2007 upon turning 56, holds a Bachelor of Arts and Diploma in Education and a post-graduate diploma in English from the University of Malaya, while her husband, Dr. Geevarughese George, who is the Senior Pastor of Malaysia Discipleship Centre holds a Doctorate in Ministry from the United States, after completing his Bachelor of Theology and Master of Divinity in Singapore. The eldest, Anna Geevarughese graduated in Forestry from Universiti Putra Malaysia and a Masters degree from the National University of Singapore and is currently employed in Singapore. The second, Charis Geevarughese graduated from Help University College in Psychology and has already left for the United States to do her PhD under the Fullbright scholarship. The third, Krystal is now doing an American Foundation Programme on a government scholarship.

            Recently conferred Datukship by the Sultan of Kedah in conjunction with his 81st birthday, our brother, Mohan, who is currently the Deputy Director General (Operation) of the Department of Drainage and Irrigation Malaysia, holds a Bachelor of Engineering from University of Malaya and a Master of Science in Engineering from Delft, Holland. His wife, Shirley has two Bachelors degree – one in Science and the other in Education – from Universiti Sains Malaysia. They too have three children – Hanna, the eldest, who has graduated in Dentistry from University of Manipal in India, the second, Benjamin Jon is studying Engineering in Christchurch, New Zealand on a government scholarship and the third, daughter Elsheba, is in secondary school.

            Our youngest pet sister, Petsy, who holds the position of Senior District Valuer with the Valuation and Property Services Department in Kuala Lumpur, has a Bachelor of Science in Survey and Valuation from the United Kingdom, as well as a postgraduate Diploma in Properties from New Zealand. Her husband, Ir. Mamman George has a Master of Science in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering from Vanderbilt University, after obtaining his Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Honours) from University of Malaya. They have three children. The eldest, Sara Anne is in the US, studying for her Bachelor of Science (Biology) under the Malaysian Government Scholarship. The second, Caleb George is studying Psychology in Help University College; and the youngest daughter, Sonia Grace, is in Form Four.

            There is no doubt that our Papa was indeed a success in every sense of the word. As our sister, Pearly puts it, “His pride in his children and grandchildren’s success in academics is genuine. He continues to encourage his grandchildren to strive after excellence. His biggest desire is to see them excel in their studies. Never once did he fail to stress that education was important. It made me sad when I failed to excel at times; but whenever I obtained good grades, I was able to rejoice with him. I now stress the importance of education to all my children.”

            As a man, he has also done well for himself, especially in his profession as a pharmacist. Until his retirement in February 2008, he must have been one of the oldest working pharmacists at the age of 88.

            We believe that Papa has achieved all his dreams and visions and is now ready to go home to be with the Lord, especially when Mummy has just left us. It wasn’t easy the way he had provided for all of us the way a loving father would do for his children.

            He even took the initiative to see to it that we were given a good education. Pearly recalls the time when she had to attend night classes for her Form Six studies as she was not given a place in school: “My father, however, went to see the principal and got me a place to study in Ibrahim School. Such was my father's determination to get me into the normal stream of education. I enjoyed my classes with my best friend, Chew Saw Choo helping me in my studies. Our families were friends. My father would allow me to go anywhere if it was with Choo. We went on to University Malaya together and even stayed at the same Residential College! My father was relieved. As I had a B for History in the Higher School Certificate, I pursued History and Choo, with straight A's, did Economics. My father was happy I was in University and doing my best.”

           

 

His Vision & Mission, Ours Too

 

            Papa has always given his best to the family that God had entrusted him. Each of us has become successful in our own ways. Some of us have made his vision and mission, ours too. We have adopted our Papa’s vision and mission:

 

Ravi: “My mission and passion is to know Jesus and become more Christ-like in my personhood. Through my life and that of my family, I hope Christ will shine through.  Although the Jesus role was not as big and a personal thing for my Papa in most of his life, he never doubted his faith; he has lived it out vide his work and life!”

 

Pearly: “His willingness to host his fellow Christians and clergy at any time is something that I do now in my home which is open to God's workers to stay and be refreshed.”

 

Mohan: “My mission is summed up in Colossians 1:10: ‘To live a life worthy of the Lord, pleasing to Him in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of Him’. In short, it is to know Christ and to be more Christ-like everyday. I too am encouraged to use my God given talents to do the best I can in life. I have learned from him that is Service is always before self. My family should also take priority in my life.”

 

Petsy: “I want to love and obey my Heavenly Father. My earthly father’s life made it easy for me to do so.”

 

            One final analysis by our brother-in-law, Mamman George is so precise in describing the vision and mission that our Papa was committed to:

 

“Important in understanding Papa’s mission in life is that, like many others, he came to Malaya for economic reasons. In the early years, their hearts were still in Kerala. Kerala and India were the only things that occupied the minds of our parents. They came with a mind prepared to toil hard, send back wages to their families in Kerala. But, at some point in time, Papa became nationalistic, and taught his children to love this country as their very own. He continued to serve the people until he retired.

 

“Education is the most important thing in Papa’s definition of success. His mission in life is to see that all his children are well-educated; even in his old age, he is always focusing on ensuring that his children do well.

 

“He has always been a good father who, when he loves his sons and daughters earnestly, seeks blessings for them. In much the same way, God wants the very best for his children to see them settled in the land, unthreatened by adversaries, and prospering. But the Lord’s blessing here, as always, has a mission focus.

 

“When a father blesses his children, and see that they do well, people around will see God’s blessing at work. It is as vivid as looking at a visual aid, which points them towards the Lord.

 

“Papa’s whole focus and mission in life was to see his children do well, and to ensure that his children prosper in the land they settle into. He wants to see that his family enjoys peace and prosperity, and that they can talk about their God as a family.”

 

 

 

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