This is a fond and deeply moving note In Memoriam of Lt Col KV Thomas, by M Balachandran ( 697/1976 ) .
5.15 AM 20 October 2011.
Looking at the smiling photograph of Lt Col KV Thomas on the front page of Malayala Manorama, I can not get myself to accept that death has robbed one more of us, while in full flight.
K V Thomas ( 704/ 1976) was one we could not net into our yahoo groups despite best of efforts. He was out of our mind too of late, but for attempts to remember everyone Roll No wise at our gatherings. I had told KGR last month, that we need to make one more effort to net the very few missing ones, but this one flew away.
Did he know he would leave abruptly? Did he keep away to minimise the pain of parting ?
As I hit the mud track in Subhash Park with the day yet to break in, I realise that time or distance does not diminish one bit, the pain of losing a gentle soul who shared his childhood with us. The memories are too fresh and fond. We were neighbours – Thodupuzha and Muvattupuzha being barely 20 kms apart. We were of B division, we were Ashokians, we were 76ers, we slept on adjacent beds for better part of 7 joyful years.
No one can beat school boys when it comes to nicknaming. As with caricatures, the most prominent trait gets picked up. And often it turns out prophetic as with KV Thomas and me. He was called Subedar since the time he was in class VI. Anyone who met him would immediately sense that he was made for the Army. Always cheerful, KV’s enthusiasm was phenomenal.
Would you believe it ? He loved the ceremonial parades, cross country races, Physical Training and even NCC along with everything else at school. Immaculate in turnout, he was fond of keeping his cupboard in order always. His writing was too was bold and distinctive.
He once nearly did a Javed Miandad, hooking a bouncer over deep fine leg for a Six off the last ball to almost win a sub junior cricket final for our house, before crashing on to his wicket. He had to be picked up from the heap of stumps and bat, but came away smiling despite the defeat, knowing that he had done his best. He was good at football and was at times mad at Jocky for deliberately kicking the ball out of play into the ravines.
He was the first to introduce me to The Bible and to the church at Chandavila Gate. The last time we drove past this gate I noticed that the Church has been renovated and briefly remembered the Easter Sunday of Class VII when KV took me to the church for the first time. He was a devout believer.
He was mostly cool and once when we were caught red handed for mischief by one of the wardens, told me “Onnum illedaa. Nee Vaa. He won’t report.” He was clear in thinking and was a voice of reason when things were beginning to get out of hand during our class XI crisis.
KV Thomas had the rare distinction of being an alumnus of all the feeder institutes of the Army – SSKZM, OTS, NDA and IMA. The last time I met him was when we spent a night at his home immediately after his PoP. He was a charged up second Lieutenant, and me a wannabe , leaving to join the Officers Training School, Madras for the 32 NT course. I wanted to try out his new uniform , but he said “Bal C , you are almost there. Earn it” and smiled. He used to write to me from 56 APO during my OTS days advising me to bear the torture of training with fortitude so as to earn my stars. I did not, deserting the Army while in transit from 32 NT at OTS to the 70th course at Indian Military Academy, to join Indian Overseas Bank.
Back home, after walking for an hour filled with loving memories, my eyes go back to his smiling dimpled picture beaming at me from Malayala Manorama – to the only thing that was slightly out of sync about KV Thomas, the left canine that reluctantly stood half a step ahead of the rest. This photograph is so full of life, this news can’t be true.
Dear Annie, George and Raphael (whom I never got to meet ) – God recalls the ones he loves most. We join you in grief and prayer. Adieu brother.
– M Balachandran ( 697/1976 )