If my father were still alive he would be 100 years old in March this year. He was a splendid human being. Extremely polite, he addressed all men as “Sir” even if they were younger than him. He was kind and generous in spirit. Papa was a gentle person and he never raised his voice. He was dedicated to his work and to us, his family. He was amazing in the way he worked with people and the time he spent to help the less fortunate. He loved books and he taught us to appreciate good literature. To encourage us to read widely and conduct research, he set up an extensive collection of books for us. He was an excellent role model. We acquired from him the love for books and my siblings and I have, in our homes, a library full of books.

Morally Upright and Courteous

Papa was a remarkable human being. He did not envy others and he was content with what he had. He was a morally upright person and he made it clear to all that he abhorred all forms of greed, cruelty and unkindness. Papa would speak to everyone about the importance of being good to others and of leading a responsible life.

My father was polite and courteous to everyone. Papa always said “please” and “thank you” to everyone with whom he interacted and I have learned to do the same. He would stand up when younger people came into a room and he greeted them warmly. He was always helping others and he did this in many, many ways. For example, he listened to their problems and tried his best to advise them to be better people.

Religion, Philosophy and Good Speech

He loved His God and his religion and hence, spent a lot of time in prayer. Often he would quote from philosophers, religious books, writers and poets. I think that I have acquired this love for quotations from him. I still have a note book in which he wrote a number of quotations. Like the rest of him, his handwriting was large, clear and unique in style.

He wanted us, his children, to be well educated and he impressed upon us the need to study and do well at school. He encouraged us to participate in extra-curricular activities and he was happy when we won prizes and awards for different things. Papa was well read and he was an eloquent speaker. As such, he impressed upon us to speak well and to make good presentations.

A Teacher

My father was a school teacher and he retired as a school principal. He inspired and motivated his students and many are grateful to him for his counsel and his teaching. He certainly touched many lives. On Teacher’s Day he would receive cards from his students. Teaching though, was not his first choice for a career. He had wanted to study medicine but, because of a problem with his father, he was unable to realize this ambition.

Volunteer Work

Papa was active in the St John’s Ambulance Brigade and the Boys Scout Movement. He would tirelessly polish the buttons on his uniforms and his shoes! He loved taking part in the parades, the camp fires and the first aid programmes. Like my mother, he also volunteered his services to charity organisations. He was involved with the establishment of the Workers’ Education Association in the nineteen forties. When the Second World War broke out, Papa was involved with the Indian Youth League. He edited the magazine, called The Light.

My father knew some of the leaders of the India Independence League and the India National Army. He was interrogated by the Japanese and made to perform certain tasks. When the Japanese surrendered and the British returned to South East Asia, he was imprisoned and interrogated by the British.

Teaching Others to Be Good

It was a sad time for my mother as she had married my father in 1944 and my sister was born in 1945. My mother was terrified when my father was taken away. Fortunately, it was not long before he returned home. After this experience, my father channelled his energies to doing charity work and to helping the poor, the disadvantaged, the youths and adults. He wanted people to be good citizens, good human beings and good members of the community. He always impressed on us the need to treat others well and to be kind at all times. He taught us, by example, to be humble at all times and not to be arrogant.

As he grew older, he spent more and more of his time on his religion. He would give talks on radio and he would work with people who wanted to know more about his religion. He derived much satisfaction from writing and speaking about God.

A Fun Side

But my father was not all serious and religious. He loved music and he enjoyed watching films. When he was young, he was very lively at parties. Like my mother, he loved entertaining. My father was comfortable with people of different backgrounds, different nationalities, different status and different cultures. He was a most inviting person and people responded very well to him. He had a gift to make people relax and enjoy their interactions with him.

When I look at his photographs over the years, I note his sense of style. He was always well groomed. He would wear a hat, jacket and dark glasses and he looked debonair and charming. He had a sense of humour and would engage in conversation with young and old. At times you could describe him as jolly.

A Wonderful Human Being

My father was a BIG Man. He was the epitome of courtesy, kindness and goodness. Papa exhibited great patience and he forgave others for any mistakes they made. I cannot recall my father ever saying an unkind word about anyone. He hated arguments and he never revealed his anger to any of us. He did not like to hear anyone gossip about others.

There is no doubt that Papa demonstrated kindness in all that he did and he was a good example to many. He was much loved by everyone who knew him. If I were to analyse why he was much loved, I would say that this was because of his kindness to all. His kind and gracious approach to others encouraged people to understand, trust and love him.

I am truly fortunate that he was my father and that he showered us with love. He brought much sparkle and delight to our lives. I would like to end with a quotation by Shelley. I found it written in my father’s handwriting in his notebook of quotations:

“For love, and beauty, and delight
There is no death, nor change.”


  1. Zaibun I wish I had the chance to have met him…. your words have depicted a truly enlightened individual…. they’re vivid and I almost feel like I’ve met him through you.

    Patience, Kindness and Courtesy are wonderful essentials lessons, that I will keep in the forefront of my mind.

    God bless him always!

  2. 1. He is fondly referred to as ‘Nana Mota’ to us, his grand nephews and grand nieces.
    2. One of ‘Nana Mota’s’ act of politeness was this: At a traffic junction, he would Saalam the driver of the vehicle on his left and the driver on his right, before driving off when the light turned green.
    AND, he would wind down his window, if it was partially up, and wave his hands when giving Saalam to the driver on his right.
    3. Fondly remembered. Always.

  3. Zaibun my dear, I can see now where you get your good and kind qualities from. So inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

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