Sunday, April 19, 2009

My father-in-law, the public intellectual

My dear students, friends and colleagues,

Thank you all for your warm and uplifting responses and comments to the tribute I paid to my father-in-law. Today, Sunday, 19 April, the late Prof. K.L. Joshi’s family held a condolence meeting at his residence, where members of the family and two of his specially-invited friends paid respects to his dear memory.

Listening to the many who silently wept or wiped away tears, as a few spoke about him, I could sense the enormous impact this simple man had made by the example of his own life to so many lives in so many different ways.

A cousin brother, who was brought up by Prof Joshi, recalled a small incident of how he got one whole rupee to go for a picnic. A cousin sister remembered how carefully Prof Joshi calculated household expenses. Prof Joshi had sent his three cousins (including her) along with their mother, for a one-month holiday to their native place, Anjarle on the Konkan coast. But he warned them that they would have to stay put with life in a village, though they were used to the comforts of Pune, and that they could not, for any reason whatsoever, return before one month had elapsed -- because the Rs 90, the travel fare, was all that he could afford to give them and that the return fare would be paid by their "mama" (maternal uncle).

But it was one of Prof Joshi’s two friends, Prof Shirolkar, who touched me most deeply and profoundly by his narration of the pervasive ideological influence that Prof Joshi exercised on him and others. You will recall I had described my father-in-law as a “public intellectual.” But I could not have known then how accurate I was in my estimation.

Prof. Shirolkar told the gathered family that Prof Joshi was a confidant and guide to eminent political leaders in Maharashtra like Mohan Dharia and N.D. Patil; that the engineering teachers in Pune consulted Prof Joshi regularly regarding their organisational issues; that even as a student leader in the pre-independence days, "K.L." would be concerned about what his friends were reading; that even today he recalled how Prof Joshi gave him a copy of “What is Marxism?” by Emile Burns. Another cousin sister recalled that Prof Joshi gave her a copy of Shyamchi Aai (Shyam's Mother) by Sane Guruji as "bhau-beej" on Raksha Bandhan as a token of his brotherly love.

Not surprising then, that with my own unabashed love for ideology, I should be drawn to this gentle and warm father-in-law of mine! His children and relatives recalled how he practised what he preached and his favourite line, "I say what I mean, and I mean what I say."

You will be glad to know that the reminiscences by his family members and friends were so many, so varied and so detailed in their description, that the project to publish a biography of Prof K.L. Joshi is sure to become a reality.

There is one category of comment that I would like to address. Should I have been so open and candid and honest in this personal memoir about my private relationship with my father-in-law on the public platform of the Internet blog? Some felt I was needlessly submitting to public scrutiny and judgment the story of my relationship that should have been restricted to a small family or friend circle.

I prefer to believe I was correct in what I did; that is why I have continued my memoir in the same vein. I would like to listen to your views too.

That’s all, this Sunday.

Your support is my strength,
- Joe.

Pune, Sunday, 19 April 2009.

9 comments:

Smita said...

Sir, It's a beautiful sequel to the first one. In fact, what draws me to read your memoir is the fact that it belongs to an era with which I am unfamiliar, and it talks of a person whom I didn't know. Such vivid is the description that I can almost guess how he would react to certain situations. Would like to read more. Regards

Joe Pinto said...

My dear Smita,

I'll make him more real for you next time. We are scanning a pic of his, which was taken in 1942 when he was 20 years old, and just out of Yerwada jail.

When you see this pic of "the freedom-fighter as a young man" juxtaposed with another pic of his as a grand-father of 79, the charm of the man seeps through.

Warm regards,
- Joe.

Smita said...

Do tell us about the circumstances under which he was put in Yerawada jail and any of his stories from then that he might have shared with you all.

feddabonn said...

i have just been reading about how U2 and bono have been avoiding having to pay their taxes in ireland. i feel terribly let down-i actually believed that U2 were different from the usual rock band. i now see they are just a business, and the "help africa" image is exactly that-an image.

the point is this-that it is heartening to hear of a person who has stuck by their ideals till their death, especially when they have walked with the powerful. i have never known proximity to power not to corrupt, but your father in law seems to have been such.

my deepest respects.

अब्द said...

Dear Sir,
Your "open and candid and honest" memoir not only tells us about era and people we are unfamiliar about but it also reflects IDEALS, which are getting extinct day by day. So, it is always an enriching experience to read your blog.

Sushant Kulkarni said...

Every facet of Prof.K.L.Joshi's life is worth learning from. Thank you for this post. Looking forward to know more about him.

Gauri Gharpure said...

portrait of a great man. the details you have provided almost make a life-like image of Prof. K L Joshi..

Anonymous said...

My Dear Joe,

I write in response to your latest blog, Sunday, April 19, 2009, "My father-in-law the public intellectual," which I deeply appreciate as a genuine piece of writing.

Nothing insincere or fake about it. That is most unusual and as to why that is so (according to the comments received by you and on which you want us, your readers, to respond) I explain below.

It is your sheer candidness, coupled with deep warmth and love, let alone the felicity of expression which endears me to what you write. This has both: pros and cons. The pros are what I have mentioned and I could go on in that vein.

The cons are that most people are very uncomfortable when they are told the truth or honest opinions are clearly expressed. It is a given that "Dishonesty Rules".

You are being true to your blog's logo "Against the Tide". But people do not want you really to swim against the tide. Therein, lies the nub of their comments (which are equally genuine expressions of their concern for your family and you and their fears) and of course their own experiences of being "used."

One of your characteristics, at least from your blog, is that you are intentionally inviting scrutiny and that decidedly means vulnerability. Are you ready for it? Is your family ready for it? I don't know.

Please think carefully about all this, as I am sure you will or have already done. After all, you have consciously or otherwise conveyed a lot about them, which need not necessarily be in the public domain.

If you choose to place it there, then there are costs and benefits. For example, I did not know that you were a political activist of the CPI(M). This does not matter a whit to me. But to others who care about you and are also members of the CPI(M), this may be a shocker because you are letting out family secrets.

In their minds this isn't comraderie. It is similar to letting people know that you are a Freemason, if you were one. This is simply not done. Some brave hearts will not lose sleep, others would be terrified.

You, however, are the best judge of what you wish to communicate. If some unsolicited advice were in order: I would be more circumspect.

With gratitude for what you have shared,

Name withheld.

Joe Pinto said...

feddabonn, abd -

You are on the dot about Prof. K.L. Joshi: how he stuck to his ideals of honesty, humanity above all else, rationality and the scientific method, allowing others to choose their own path, etc.

Being clean ("nirmal") was a guiding principle. More later.

Warm regards,
- Joe.