Anantharama Iyer was his name. He entered into our lives - mine and my two older sisters as our tuition master, when we were 8, 10, 12 respectively. Our father came to know about our poor performance in the term exam of the school year. So this person became our tuition master.
He was formidable to look at. Dressed in a 'panchakacham veshti' and an 'angavastram' to cover his bare torso, he had a 'kudumi' (the way the purohits of today have their hair styled and most Brahmins of those bygone days). He had three fingers of 'vibhoothi' (sacred ash) pattern on his forehead, with a sandal paste 'pottu' in the centre - and always a two days growth of beard on his face. He was tall and hefty, with broad shoulders and a broader waist. Just looking at him gave us the shivers.
I had nothing against this, but being the youngest , he roped me in to help me with drawing of the design for the base of the padmam, with different coloured powders all made at home, and very organic. It was a very intricate pattern. So every month for many years to follow, I was the one to assist him in this. And he in turn would bless me with a prosperous life with a good husband.
With my father, this master of mine had another trump. Knowing that my father was suffering from back pain, he suggested ‘sooriya namaskaram’. He became my father’s physical instructor and initiated him into it. By 6 am everyday he would be at our place for that purpose, and see that my father did the 'sooriya namaskaram' properly. Well, this did help my father to get rid of his back pain, and at the same time helped the tuition master to get into my father’s good books.
With all his family commitments, he did not ignore his daily tasks as a tuition master. He made us learn the multiplication tables up to 16 by heart. He made us do sums mentally and give him the answer swiftly. So this helped us a lot. He had a way in handling all subjects. I some of the lessons he taught me which made life easier for me in school. When my turn came to help my children with the home work, I automatically followed his method, minus the pinching – not fully minus, a little tap here and a minute pinch there, helped both the teacher and the student.
My tuition master was a great Ayyappan devotee. I imbibed this kind of Ayyappan devotion from him. He used to go to Sabarimala every year for more than 25 years, walking all the way from his home in
The last time I saw the Master was about 40 years ago. Yet I remember him very well. And today I write this with tears in my eyes and pranams in my mind. He was a great man in his own way. Long live his ilk.