Tag Archives: Tamil language

Broken Vows to my father Kanapathippillai Navasothy

Navasothy Kanapathippillai. M.A (Tamil Scholar)
in Australia 1984.  (c)MNavasothy

Way back in January1990, as I stood alone in a semi-dark room in the funeral parlor – with my father’s body in an open coffin, I made a silent vow to him. A promise that I doubt I can keep, as it involved me finishing the Ph.D that he was working on, when my father – Kanapathipillai Navasothy had passed away in a sudden street accident. (yes some times people do get hit by a vehicle ..and it’s true, sometimes crossing the road is the most dangerous and last thing people do!)

His Ph.D research work still occupies shelves in a cupboard in our sitting room. But it’s all in Tamil, and is all about tamil (language) culture. Now I can speak Tamil, and write. After all, I lived in Sri Lanka till age of 15, living, breathing, speaking, studying and thinking..in Tamil. But the last 25 years have been a time when the use of Tamil language has been fading from me..  Not everyone can just pick up a Ph.D level research and finish it. People need a life time of their passions, beliefs, creativity and knowledge – to undertake such a thing.  Perhaps if I had started back in 1990, I may have got partially there by now- and perhaps if I start now, I may get there still…  But my passions, creativity and directions lie elsewhere (in the exploration of Sciences, psychology & Spirituality).

Drowning in sorrows of his death, it was emotive of me to have made a promise to my father to finish his lief time’s work. Though that is not possible, my sister Vathani & I still plan to remember our father Navasothy (for that is his actual first name..which by some quirk in filling forms at Immigration back in 1985 has become our surname. So his `name’ lives on already every time someone calls me, reads  or writes my name!). We may one day build a memorial of some sort. But with the advancement of internet and online worlds that are now possible, we have new possibilities – and my private work continues to create a website for my father, and put important works by him online.

My research shows that Amazon/e-books have not yet started publishing in Tamil.  (Now there’s an entrepreneurial idea!). So I’ll wait and then upload my father’s books in e-format, for the world to read it once more.

But for now, this blog entry is my first attempt to honour a promise I made to my father K.Navasothy- Tamil Scholar (`Navalar Navasothy’ they honoured him in his later years in London, for the power of poetic words he possessed).. that his works will live again.

-Manivannan Navasothy

Other related post:   K.navasothy – Our father who art in Heaven

K.Navasothy: Our Father who art in Heaven

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

Kanapathippillai Navasothy. M.A
K Navasothy in Australia 1984

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’. 🙂

Your son

-Manivannan