My Contemporary Cousin

My Contemporary Cousin

The depth of connection with relatives often surpasses that of friends met in schools or other walks of life, owing to the saying "blood is thicker than water." In this blog, I aim to present the profile of my contemporary cousin, Innochan, with whom I shared intimate discussions.  I maintained a close bond with my contemporary male cousins, as we engaged in mischievous escapades during festivals, weddings, and funerals. Among these cousins, Innochan, later known as Innocent, stood out. Sharing my exact age, we had a similar sense of humour.

 My memories transport me back to 1954, when I recall him arriving at my house in Cochin, India with my aunt, riding my three-wheeler bike. During that visit, our parents took us to watch the movie "Neelakkuyil" at Patel Talkies, Thoppumpadi, Kochi. Back then, he was rather submissive, and I held the upper hand. 

Later, I encountered him at my maternal grandparents' house at Irinjalakuda. He had developed the skill of articulation, speaking with a touch of humour. In those days, there was a marble-based knuckle hitting game among boys. As the game's introducer, Innochan excelled, and I ended up with bruised fists from receiving his hits. 

During the renowned Irinjalakuda festival, all my contemporary maternal cousins would gather at my grandmother’s  house. Innochan had a penchant for stirring up other cousins like Kochessy from Puthenchira, Kochessy from Potta, and George Kutty from Chengal, encouraging friendly fights. Around 1958, my maternal grandfather passed away after a stroke. Living in Irinjalakuda, Innochan shouldered the responsibility of looking after our grandparents. Yet, I observed moments where he teased our grandfather and our hearing-impaired grandmother. On Sundays, his task was to fetch beef from the market after attending church mass. 

One aspect I noticed him was his skill in avoiding confrontation with others. In my grandmother’s house my cousin Varghesettan who was about 15 years older than me and living there since his father passed away was a police officer in Malabar Special Police. After one of the church festival gatherings grandmother arranged a photographer to take a family photo  of her five daughters. Myself, Innochan, George Kutty and both Kochessy were standing behind the photographer. Everything was set to take the photo, but suddenly Varghesettan stood next to Grandmother. I became exasperated and shouted at Varghesettan that he had no right to be included in the family photo and that his status was the same as ours. However I noticed Innochan was quiet, unresponsive and did not support me. Later I heard Innochan's father commenting 'Varunny (my nick name) was the only one man enough to protest' looking at Innochan.

The festive Hindu celebration, Pooram, brought everyone together in Thrissur. During each Pooram, cousins from both my father's and mother's sides, along with distant relatives' children, would congregate at our Thrissur home. Under my father's watchful eye, we would venture to the crowded Thekkinkadu or Pooraparambu to catch a glimpse of Thekkottirakkam. Around 2 am, my father would wake everyone for the world-renowned Pooram fireworks, lasting over three hours. In these eagerly anticipated moments, Innochan's witty jokes kept everyone happily engaged.

 I distinctly recall him poking fun at my appetite when we met at one of our cousins' weddings in Puthenchira. During those times, all wedding reception curries were prepared in the early hours of the wedding day. Innochan's version involved me sensing the tantalizing aroma of fried onions garnishing chicken curry while I slept. Abruptly awakened, I approached the fiercely burning fire where a large frying pan held the curry. However, my uncle prevented me from indulging in the piping-hot dish directly from the pan. Innochan, it seems, overheard my uncle's sarcastic retelling of the incident to others.

But Innochan was no less indulgent than me. His sisters lamented that he devoured every morsel of food before they returned from school, squandering their father's wealth. After breakfast at 9 am, he would demand lunch by 11 am, leaving my aunt exasperated. During the Irinjalakuda festival, he excelled at showcasing his fearless skills in lighting various fireworks and crackers. 

Academically, Innochan struggled, leading to conflicts with his father. My presence provided a reprieve, as my uncle refrained from chastising him in my company. In our teenage years, he entertained me with crude jokes and tales of his clashes with school teachers. Eventually, he realized academic success wasn't his path, opting for acting, politics, and small businesses. It's worth highlighting that his uniqueness was his greatest achievement. 

While I pursued medical studies in Davangere, I learned that Innochan had run away from home, only to be apprehended by a railway station master suspicious of his currency-counting behavior. He was on his way to Madras for an acting opportunity alongside the renowned actor Prem Nazir. Undeterred, he persevered and eventually succeeded. In Madras, he resided in slums, seeking minor roles. His luck changed as he secured a minor role in a well-known movie.

 During a hospital clinical session, I spotted Innochan in a corridor, waving his hand. To my surprise, he was at Davangere, whispering that he was unwell with an evening fever. Subsequently diagnosed with typhoid, he was admitted to the teaching hospital under Professor, Maheshwarappa's care. Upon recovery, lacking the funds to return to Madras, he worked in a match factory and shared accommodations with me. Our friendship blossomed once again, infusing my mundane Davangere life with humor and joy. 

He was fond of smoking beedies and drinking, and a peculiar habit was his extended toilet stays, engrossed in reading "Balarama," leaving others impatiently waiting their turn. His distinctive belches, head bent, and intense stare became legendary and unforgettable. I often joined him in cooking, and he held my meat preparations in high regard. During his time in the UK, he praised my culinary skills to my wife. Each evening, he would invite me to a corner shop just opposite the entrance of JJM Medical College Hostel, offering me a Scissors cigarette and a banana. Unlike me, he remained generous even amid his problems and worries. His motto was to live like a lord, unaffected by 'tomorrow'. Whenever he found a moment, he would  sing or whistle tunes from the movie "Nellu," in which he had a minor role, imitating the habits of Prem Nazir. 

With some savings, he secured a dwelling in Madras and departed from Davangere to pursue his acting career. From that point on, he never looked back. His movie "Vida Parayum Mumbe" became a box office hit, although I learned of it while working in Nigeria. He started as a comedian, gradually moving to supporting and character roles. Unfortunately, I lost contact with him around this time, and communication became scarce. During my tenure as the General Secretary of the Malayali Medical Association, UK, I invited him as the chief guest for the annual day celebrations, and lived in our house in Kent.

 Later, Innochan made significant strides in both politics and the film industry. His accomplishments included serving as a Member of Parliament (MP) in India and becoming a household name in the Malayalam movie world. During this period, I relied on updates from relatives. About a decade ago, I learned of his declining health, which worsened over time. Regrettably, he passed away at the age of 75. As a contemporary cousin, I take pride in documenting his early life journey.

Share On
Dr.C.J.George FRCS

This blog is about my experience as a doctor working in various countries in different clinical set up. This experience spans through 45 years, in which I acquired a lot of favourable contacts and unfavourable encounters. I shall dig deep into them and make it interesting to the readers. Unlike others in the profession, I worked as a community medical officer in a remote areas, prison medical officer, benefit service medical officer, in cardiac surgery in prestigious institutions and as a private doctor. I was managing my own businesses, and real estate in three continents. I hope the information I impart will be valuable to the like minded readers.

Related Post

Comment Form