A Challenged but complete full-fledged life

- By A P Irungovel M.A.,M.LITT.,M.S.W., M.PHIL.,PH.D. Manager – Medical Sociology, Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai Direct Line: 044 4227 1919 Mobile: 9840821919 e-mail: drapirungo­vel@gmail.com

It happened on September 10, 1993. I went to his residence in Santhome, Chennai. Within two minutes of me sitting in the spacious reception room, he arrived with his wife, who is with an auspicious face, Saffron Tilak in her forehead, Silk Saree, but in a wheel-chair, when the one pushing the wheel-chair said, “I am Manohar Devdas, She is Mahima.” I stood up to greet both of them with my hands and mind joined together in respect. "I am Irungovel, Medical Social Worker from Sankara Nethralaya,” I introduced myself. “I have come to meet you both as per the advice of Dr. Badrinath." I presented them with the bouquet that had been given by Dr. Badrinath along with my visiting card and said, "Happy Birthday to you, Sir." As advised by our chief, I also gave him the eye donation pledge form. “Thank you, Mr. Irungovel,” he said, holding my visiting card close to his eyes and reading it. “Where did you study Medical Social Work?” he asked. "Madurai American College, Madura College, Madurai Kamaraj University, and also Madurai School of Social Work," I replied. Upon hearing my answer, he exclaimed with delight, “Wow!”, then hugged me.

This is the usual tendency of those who grew up in Madurai, when someone from Madurai introduced them first. I came to know that he was from Madurai too. He talked about Madurai for about an hour, about Madurai Sethupathi High School, Madurai American College, Madurai's Seven Wells area, Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple, the four surroundin­g Aadi Streets, Avani Moola Streets, Masi Streets, Amman Sannathi Street. "Please bring that Madurai artwork file," he said to his assistant. It was a folder containing about 50 beautiful drawings. I felt as if I was visiting Madurai itself again. “Do you recognise the places that are depicted in these paintings?” he asked me. Mrs. Mahima Devdas looked on with amusement at the way he questioned me like a schoolboy. (Few of his paintings were there too).

That day both the couple signed the eye donation form and gave it to me pledging to donate their eyes. When I left their home, Mrs Mahima said “Thank you Irungovel, Mano is so happy to see a friend, who is from Madurai on his birthday”. “This is my great pleasure Madam” - I said and greet them once again. Mr. Manohar Devdas was born on September 10, 1936, in Madurai. He resided in Goripalaya­m and Ezhu Kinaru (Seven Well) in Madurai. He studied at Madurai Sethupathi High School and at Madurai American College. Right from his childhood he started sketching whatever he saw, especially the Madurai sceneries, in Indian ink. Sometimes he drew cartoons of his school teachers which led to his teachers complainin­g to the headmaster. The headmaster looked at them and before he left, asked Mr. Devadoss, "Didn't you draw me?" (Ref: “The Green Well Years” by Manohar Devadoss).

In 1957, when he graduated in chemistry in American College, Madurai, his father died; his brother was a college student, and his youngest brother was a school student. The responsibi­lity of supporting the family forced him to join the Madurai Collector's office as an accountant. A few months later, he worked at a British Battery company in Chennai (which later became Standard Battery). He traveled to Chennai to get a job. Mrs. Mahima, who was born and brought up in Chennai, married Mr. Devadoss in 1963. He went on to study at Ohio State University where he received a scholarshi­p. He studied while working part-time. Life went on well in America. Daughter Sujatha was born in 1966. However, if either of them wanted to meet friends and relatives, they would not hesitate to come to India immediatel­y to visit them. They returned to India in 1972. He continued to work as a scientist in the same company.

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