18 Feb Dr Gopi, R- A friend & Russian Language Expert
Dr. Gopi, passed away on the Feb.13, 12 at Muthuvila, his village and in his own house “Anandavalliswaram” Gopi was one of my good friends, and Technical Assistant in Dept. of Geology, University of Kerala, University Park, Kariavattom, 695 581, India. But later on Gopi earned a Post-Graduate degree in Russian language and joined upon selection, as Lecturer in Rsusian, then completed a PhD with (Late) Dr AP Andrewskutty of Linguistics Department of the U of Kerala. This new degree gave a great opportunity to Gopi to get higher teaching positions like Reader in Russian, Professor of Russian and then finally retired as HOD of Russian in 2002.
In my undergraduate years (1960-63) in the University College, Trivandrum, I never met Gopi, as to remember this man’s face. He studied Geology with Mr. NRS Babu- my one time college mate (in Pre-University class, 1959-60) in the Intermediate College, Trivandrum,. Mr. Babu, proved to be a great enterprising chap; after graduation he founded the Universal Academy (Attingal)- a coaching centre for school as well as college going students. This academy made an indelible mark in private-paid-coaching meant for those ill-confident adolescent boys and girls.
In fact, Gopi too was associated in the coaching program.Babu later sailed through smoothly in journalism in the Kerala Kaumudi group roughly for more than three decades. Presently, Babu, runs a School of Journalism in Kochi and its Chief. My 1st year of college in the Intermediate College, reminds me of a plump, relatively dark skinned “boy” in his white shorts and medium blue shirt. He was initially silent, stuck to his seat in the class most of the time. But soon suddenly blossomed into a “talking machine”.
Now let me revert to Gopi. After my M.Sc, when I joined as Instructor in the Geology Department of the University of Kerala (1966), Gopi was not a staffer in the Geology Department. But when I came back to the Geology Department (after a brief stint in the Mining & Geology Dept., GoK), on the offer of a Lecturer’s job (in March of 1968), there was Gopi- the Technical Assistant. He is in charge of arranging the Lab classes with the help of concerned teacher. Otherwise, Gopi maintained the equipment stock register and stock. We made close friends with each other rather quickly.
On Saturdays, when most other teacher’s were not around for one reason or other, Gopi used to sit in my guest chair and chatted off about the day to day politics – and especially tying to convince me that only way out for the ills of the country was to take the revolutionary –communist- path like the Soviets or the Chinese. My stand was always a path of peace and no revolution to attain equality among the masses in the newly independent India. Our friendship remained firm but we took sharply contradictory views on the way the country was administered by the Congress party.
The Kallar winded down through the village of Gopi’s parental home. In fact Vaidooriyam attracted news paper columns with stories on illicit or unlawful practices by the citizens who did not fine any gainful job in summer season. The river has cut a channel in Gopi’s village, across the regional strike of foliation, creating a cascade over this knick point, which with water flow over it created a fairly loud hissing sound which locals christened as erappu. Both upstream and down stream of this channel has only a very gentle gradient or down ward slope. The sand reservoir that sat in the channel was the source of Vaidooriyam – variety of Chrysoberyl in shades of yellow yellowish green and green. Cabochon cut –i.e., only a polish on the surface of the stone without faces- used to fetch sizable price in the semi-precious stone market. In the erly seventies, Gopi and I had walked the river shore keenly looking and checking fistfuls of river sand for picking up a grain or two of chrysoberyl. Sand always had some show of chrysoberyl – but not in the grade of granules or pebbles.
Couple of years after my marriage, in the Fall of 1972 I went off to the Syracuse University on a Fulbright fellowship. In 1973, “National Emergency” was declared by the Indira Gandhi administration. Several activists of communist party were picked up by Police for alleged anti-national planning or spreading antinational thoughts or even spreading such thoughts in print or by word of mouth. In fact one of the teacher’s in the Politics Department in the University Park, had a tough time to fend off of an arrest by police under the emergency rules. Once Prof. (late) KK Menon casually referred to Gopi’s problem with police and how he saved Gopi from a session of interrogation by Police.
When I returned, Gopi was a Technical Assistant but then had earned a 3rd class MSc degree in Geology, by enrolling for the course on leave of absence for study purposes. Gopi had a strong belief that the 3rd class was intentionally stamped on him, to block further career advancement. Since then, Gopi was unbelievably furious, behaved rudely and sharply critical of some of the teachers. In the mean time, Dr. Rajendran Nair (of Geology Department) who shared a part-time faculty position in the Department of Russian talked Gopi into enrolling for the Russian language course for an MA degree under the part-time program.
To a large extent this new educational achievements wrought a remarkable change in Gopi, who completed the PG degree in Russian Language, which paved the way for successfully earning a lecturer’s job in Russian in the University of Kerala. Gopi became a new man altogether. After completing the PhD degree Gopi successful reached the level of professor and Head of the Department, before his retirement in 2002.
The Gopi family is rather small with his wife (retiree from KSEB) and two girl children –one working for the GoK in Trivandrum and the second kid in the software area and both are married to hardworking and caring husbands and are well settled in life. Mrs. Gopi is a pensioner and lives with one of the daughter’s in Trivandrum. The only disgust to me of Gopi’s demise is the suddenness of the end. My salutes to the departed soul.