Kerala for long followed the matrileneal system where the women of the house were given more importance ,still most of us take our family names from mothers side and a daughter was considered as a blessing more than a son once upon a time ,
of course the marumakathayam system no longer exists ,
This was where the maternal uncle was the head of the family and the husband was a vistor whose prime responsiblity was with his sister and her children ie his nephews and nieces ,
In this picture is my Great Grand uncle Valliyil Govindan nair
He was a bachelor ,hence he had only his sisters families as his responsibilty which he bore well .
Being a renkowned Textile chemist in those days and having been educated in England he worked for long in Morarjee textile mills in Bombay and there is even a textile colour dedicated to him ,
I still rememebr the bound books from Britain in his vast library in our huge ancestral house in Parappanangadi ,Kerala filled with small bits of coloured clothes with different names and details to it ,at that time for us children it was just fun to pull them out and play with them .
After working for a long time in Bombay he had a misunderstanding with his bosses as he was a man of ethics and a court case was filed on them by him ,the case went on for some time and he continued to work with full dedication but was not given a salary ,
his finances were in dire strains and it was his sister in Parappanangadi who stood with him by selling her jewelery ,
finally he won the case and got the accumulated salaries and damages which amounted to a big sum ,resigned from his job honourably and retuned to live in Parappanangadi ,
He built the palatial ancstral house of ours in a fusion style of a nalukettu ( traditional Kerala house ) with western facilities like attached bathrooms ( thoguh those days there were no closets ) ,the house had huge areas of different fruits and trees and a private pond too .
Uncle was very British in his habits and even had an inhouse butler to serve him albeit a dhoti clad malayalee one called Sankaran nair .
His dear sister who by now was a widow and her children were all living in the house Thekkepat Kovilakkam
the neices got married and thier children too lived there ,
my mother used to say as a child there were more than fifty people living as one in that house at a time not to say of the floating population of husbands visiting other relatives friends which increased dduring festivals and or marriages etc
uncle had meticulous habits and his food was served by his man friday with utmost care there were a couple of cooks and a retinue of servants ,uncle bought large areas of land cultivated them grew coconuts jackfruits and so many other trees ,his day after breakfast would be busy with people coming from these places to see him and discuss on the days labours pluckings sales etc
he had a karyasthan or manager called kuttykrishnan nair to oversee all this ,
he had great respect in the village as a learned person with lot of experience but his affinity to the British angered many youngsters who were Gandhijis followers and whom he considered as rabble !
His collection of books came fom his regularly ordering them from Britain and he also had fine funrniture but as far as his dress was concerned he wore ethnic mundus nd neat shirts
he meticulously maintained his accounts and noted all details of his day in neat handwriting in his oredered Hoe and coe diaries ,
i rememeber seeing them from 1920 to 1950 s and there was in one diary every single details of my parents marriage which I preserved the rest diaries and books were all lost sad !
in one entry for some time he had mentioned details of a business he got into with Sehsayee paper mills ,he would take up the procurement of shells used in the business from certain places in kerala and transfer them to the mills ,i reall y dont rememebr the details but it involved a bit of travel and meeting people middle men etc as the w\quantities were huge but I think he wasnt meant for it as he wound it up and settled down as a landowner and cultivator
His visits to nearby Calicut or Kozhikode which in those days was possible only by steam engined trains and took more than three hours which today takes less than one ,
Trips to Calicut were an event by itself as his schedule was as meticuloulsy laid out as that of a prime minister during his travels ,from the time he got into the morning mail to the breakfast he had in the railway retitrng room his visits to many places at times an attendance in the court for some case meeting up with his lawyer and then his doctor for a check up ,
his favourite phsycian was Dr Balakrishnan the renowkned doctor of Calicut who would occasionaly come down to Parappanangadi to see his friend and patient ,amusingly a day would come when the doctors great grandchild woudl get married to VG Nairs great grand child !,
uncle would stay in calicut in one his numerous relatives houses till all his work was over
Today there are no more diaries left fro me tospin his yarns ,and very few lving to tell me stories of this great person the house today broken and sold !!
in this picture uncle is with his four nieces and grand neices and nephews