Oommen Chandy | Photo: Mathrubhumi
Kottayam: Puthupally is for Oommen Chandy and Oommen Chandy is Puthuppally's own. This is something that even little children in Kerala know. The bond that the former CM had to his birthplace is something that begets reverence.
Even when he was the Chief Minister of Kerala and the General Secretary of AICC incharge of various states, he never lost the special relationship with his hometown, Puthupally. The people of Puthuppally have the same love for their leader, whom they lovingly know as their Kunjunju.
As a testament of this love, Oommen Chandy’s Thiruvananthapuram home is named ‘Puthupally’. Even when he was serving as the Chief Minister of the state, he frequented Puthupally once a week. The only change to this schedule happened when travel ceased during the Covid pandemic and when the disease tightened its hold on him.
During the Covid pandemic, people who were stranded, those suffering from illness and those who lost their jobs kept seeking help from Oommen Chandy. He worked incessantly to help solve as many of these issues as possible. However, he expressed sadness at not being able to meet them in person.
Later on, as his health deteriorated and he couldn’t be as active as before, he would keep the windows of his home open and hear people’s problems through them.
His teacher, 102 years old Scaria Thommi once said that Oommen Chandy’s generosity came from his family. He grew up seeing the generosity of his parents and that embedded in him a will to help others in need. From the first election itself, Chandy held on to this teacher’s hand and recorded his vote.
It was Oommen Chandy’s grandmother who gave him the nickname Kunjunju. His sister, Valsamma Mathew said that it was a call out of love. She also informed that Oommen Chandy’s official name was derived from that of his grandfather, V.J Oommen.
Whenever he comes to Puthupally, he would attend the holy mass at 6 AM at Puthuppally St. George’s Church without fail, the vicar Fr. A.V Varghese said. He would leave only after lighting the lamp at the steps of the church. Spirituality is an innate goodness that the former CM had. Father stated that no matter how busy, Chandy would go to bed only after reading the Holy Bible.
If invited, Oomen Chandy would show at the weddings in Puthupally and Kottayam, even if it were only for a few moments. He also made it a point to visit homes of deceased individuals and pay his condolences. Even though Kottayam natives are used to his visit on such occasions, his entry would always create awe in the minds of those experiencing it.
Oomen Chandy’s life is exemplary to those who survive even when everyone around wants to trample him down, the locals testify. Believe in those that depend on you and follow you, this is the thought that Oommen Chandy left to his followers and this is what they live by.