Thirumeni’s Beloved Servant – ‘Pottan’

Only very few know who and what Thomas the deaf and dumb, but remarkably loyal servant of Rambachan was or his daily chores in the service of his beloved master.

Thomas came on Mithunam 18, 1090, as Rambachan’s cook. He belonged to the Ooppootil family of Veloor Karickamattom. His father was a regular help for the late Palampadom Vakil. Thomas has spoken at length, of course, in sign language to P.C Yohannan Ramban. ‘Pottan’ as Thomas was called by some, was very intelligent and had a grasp of most things happening around him. He would take his part whenever he could contribute meaningfully. The way he pictured in sign language personages like Mahatma Gandhi, the Viceroy, Patriarch Bava, Wattacheril Thirumeni, Kurichi Valiya Bava Thirumeni and Julius Metropolitan has been quite memorable.

He seemed to pose as though the whole of Pothenpuram was his own. Every tall coconut palm you see on the hill slopes was indeed planted by him, watered by him from the pond of Charothuparambil and Kizhakkemuri. Because they were fruits of his labour he would not part with any of the produce that Pothenpuram yielded. He would express himself without any reserve to anyone. In fact people around had some respect for his temper. He wouldn’t even spare Pampady Thirumeni!

Thirumeni’s devoted “Pottan”

Thirumeni and his devoted “Pottan”

In early days when there used to be a number of inhabitants in the Dayara ‘Pottan’ would look after all their needs without demur. He was good to all of them. Semmassans or others. He was blessed with a healthy body, clean habits and regular prayer vigil. He would take his bath every evening at the neighbouring Kizhakkemuriyil family pond. Reaching the ‘Kurisinthotti’ on the western side, on his way back, he would make a special noise. After serving food for every inmate e would go to the church nadakasala and remain on his knees in prayer at least for an hour. He wouldn’t like to be disturbed at that time. The callus on his knees looked like that on a camel.

Not many could claim a life more open and simple. Dayara members used to get many helpings of dishes from ‘Pottan’ just by flattering him as a very intelligent man. Those who visited the Dayara would often give him his share after giving ‘Kaimuthu’ to Thirumeni. ‘Pottan’ used to keep it all in a chest safely in the attic. He had a sister whom he used to visit once in a while. Dayara members would take away the money from the chest, out of good humour, just to tease him. He would smell out if any one touched his chest. There could be a lot of noise, then, for a day or two till Thirumeni intervened.

‘Pottan’ was keen on keeping the courtyard clean. He wouldn’t allow a blade of grass to grow there. Thirumeni who appreciated it, would reward him with ‘thorth’ and ‘mundu’. Even thought every one had a soft corner for Pottan, one who really cared for him was Puthettu Kaduppil P M Philipose Achen. Pottan would not grudge going to some houses he was close to, like Thrikkothu Manalel and Madathil Asan’s, to fetch provisions for Dayara use.

Grave Stone of ‘Pottan’ beside the Dayara Chapel (right side of Thirumeni’s Kabar)

How heart broken he was when Pampady Thirumeni passed away! He was inconsolable. He wanted to be buried alongside Thriumeni, he would try to tell others this. He wouldn’t miss any mass of fail to partake of Holy Qurbana whenever it was offered. Thirumeni was equally fond of him. “You should look after him when I am dead. I wish he passed away before I did. He would inherit heaven, no doubt.” Thirumeni said to Yohannan Achen. And Achen considered it a blessing that he could follow Thirumeni’s instruction to the full extent. Thirumeni also wished that Pottan should be cremated near Thirumeni where he would be able hear Thirumeni if Thirumeni calls him.

Pottan died on July 28, 1971. As he wished he was buried on the Dayara courtyard, where his grave stone is visible from Thirumeni’s Kabar. The innocent occupant of the tomb right of Pampady Thirumeni’s on the dayara courtyard will certainly gain eternal rest.

Grave Stone of Pottan
Daniel Mar Pilaxinos Metropolitan presenting ‘Pottan’ with a gift

Padinjarekara Mathai

A man called Padinjarekara Mathai also served the Dayara for odd jobs. He joined duty on April 13, 1916. His main duty at the beginning was collecting ‘pidiyari’ and other offertories sent by his friends and well wishers of the Dayara. Big hands of banana, other fruits, special dishes, sweet meats, whatever the neighbouring house holds used for themselves, a portion of it would be first sent to Thirumeni. There was no shortage of any sort for any of these things. They were all given away to guests and visitors to the Dayara as well as to the servants.

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