If there is a Father who is in Heaven, it’s most likely `our father’ (mine & my 2 sisters’ that is!), and not some bearded deity!
That said Hindus (people who follow Hinduism) do deify their dead ancestors and relatives. Well, not just Hindus, so do a number of other religious people – like the Chinese, Japanese, Africans and so on. So I am quite okay to make such a statement.
Today is the 71st birthday of my father – Mr Kanapathippillai Navasothy – had he still been alive. He had a road accident – way back in 1990 (4t
h January 1990) and passed away in hospital following head injuries, and being in a coma for a few hours. The accident took place, in the streets of `Elephant & Castle’ in SW London, when he was returning from his civil service work (as one the then-Poll-Tax officers!!).
He wasn’t always that of course. Educated to degrees – well, a B.A and then an M.A in Sri Lanka, he was working on his Ph.D thesis while in London when he died, so his work was never finished. We have stacks of all that research in cupboards – and at one point, both my sister Vathani & me vowed to finish his work – but life took us in different directions. It’s not our cause!. We have our own paths and works.. my sister in the direction of Psychology & Counselling (B.SC & M.Sc), and me in Physics (B.Sc) and esoteric and paganism. (We do have another sister, who went in the direction of Education, working with kids in schools, sign language etc until she got married and has now a baby boy – who incidentally is the same star-sign as my father. Magicians with soul-considerations will make what you will of this. Well, that;’s not all. All 3 of us – me and my 2 sisters have spouses who are all Aries- the same start sign as my father! Psychologists will have a field day on this, am sure!)
Back to my father – Navasothy – for that was his first name – meaning `Nine-lights’. In Tamil culture, the first name of one’s father / husband becomes one’s Surname. So his name `Navasothy’ became my surname and now that we are in a western country, that has become our family surname for ever! So in some ways, my father’s name lives on!
He was a Tamil Scholar, reading and writing so much on folklore and cultural matters. He’s written and published many books – and here I am proud to say, his children’s novel `Odiponavan’ (tamil for `(boy) who ran away’) became the first Children’s fiction book to be read in Tamil classes in schools – back in Sri Lanka. His next book was on folklore & poetry. He had attended many international Tamil conferences (last one was in Mauritius); his articles appeared almost every week on newspapers, and his voice was heard on tamil radio stations. We grew up with all that as `normal’ occurrences (he took me to a children’s radio `story telling’ programme recording, and I got to say a few words once !) I recall his first TV session ( a 15 min talk). And here in London, he started up one of the first Tamil Sunday Schools in Tooting Broadway, as well as a Monthly magazine.
He was hardly home, but when he was, he’d be writing, or gardening! Those times with him (having tropical fish!), stalking lizards that ate our vegetables, or going for a walk in the forest (and trying to get me a `pet monkey’ ) are ones I still cherish – as well as the fact that he believed in my creative talents. He took my comic books to try and publish them (alas I now know they were not good or original).
I’ve been following in his footsteps for decades now- writing, art works, community events organising, public speaking, teaching.. even interests in books (he worked as a Government Archivist back in Ceylone), and archaeology (first few months in UK, he did some volunteer work in the roman town of St.Albans). Many of my writing projects have started to culminate, so I think that’s my best homage to him.
I must mention, it was his sudden death (I was just starting my Physics in University when that happened) that set me initially on an atheist path and then spun me around topsy-turvy – and finally into Paganism & spirituality.
It is time, 22 years after his death, that a memorial is built for him – for the world has almost forgotten him. But in true modern fashion, a website and online is where I’m building his memorial.
In Tamil, I call my father `Appa’ .. So here’s to you – `Happy Birthday Appa’. 🙂
8 thoughts on “K.Navasothy: Our Father who art in Heaven”
A wonderful tribute. 🙂
This is truly wonderful tribute Brother!! Moved me to tears..despite not feeling a thing yesterday!!! You have mastery with words just like our father Kanapathipillai Navasothy of Colombo Sri Lanka , “who art in heaven now” did ….just as you have inherited his creative flares , passions and missions in life that he had ..be it slightly in different angel 🙂 He’d be most proud of all that you have achieve and shall GO ON to achieve here on !! with bright blessing to you ~ Sister xxx
An elaborate and well written tribute to my loving brother Sothy who was admired and respected by Tamil scholars in SriLanka, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Mauritius. My brother Sothy will not be forgotten in our lives. I very much appreciate this tribute.
Dear Sithappa, Mike, Vathani,
Thanks for your appreciations. Yeap, Vathani & I are starting some work on a tribute video to put on youtube (we both have our channels!) as well as develop the website navasothy.com and put a lot of features, family connections, photos etc. I’ll keep everyone informed. And hope some family members can also add articles.. (there will also be pages on our grandparents!). Love & regards. Manivannan
Dear Mani, your tribute article is very touching! When I visited your home in Tooting in the late 1980’s, I do remember meeting your father. He came across as a friendly man who cared a lot for his family. I also remember seeing your father and yourself go to Tamil school at the same venue shared by the Asian youth club that I used to go to in Tooting! Best wishes, Sundar