The Wholesome Story Of The Man Who Travelled From India To M’sia To Locate His Father’s Lost Grave

source: Citizens Journal

News of Thirumaran, an activist from Tamil Nadu who travelled to Malaysia in search for his father’s grave has tugged on netizens’ heartstrings, and apart from the successful rekindling, the full story leading up to it is just as soul-stirring.

When questioned about his early memories of his father, Thirumaran did not have much to share, noting that he actually has no memory of his father’s appearance.

His father, K Ramasundaram, once worked as a schoolteacher in Malaysia, and sadly passed away from pneumonia six months after his son was born in 1967. That same year, Thirumaran and his mother travelled back to Tamil Nadu.

Subsequently, she also passed away in 1987, when Thirumaran was 22.

K Ramasundaram. source: BBC

He kept some “musty old letters” that his father had penned and that his mother had handed down over the years. According to her, Mr. Ramasundaram was a “wonderful humanitarian” and a “excellent vocalist”.

She had also disclosed the site of her husband’s cemetery in Malaysia, in the town of Kerling in Selangor, where he had resided and passed away.

Thirumaran, who oversees a school for kids rescued from forced labour in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district, ultimately made the decision to visit his father’s cemetery in November in effort to “rekindle his connection” with him.

“I would often think that I needed to go see my father, but I never really thought about it before now,” he said.

Thirumaran tried to find his father’s school first, but other than its name, Thotta Thesiya Vakai Tamil Palli, and the fact that it was a small school run by the Tamil community in Kerling where Ramasundaram taught English, he knew nothing further about the institution.

source: Getty Images

He then sought help from his students to Google the school’s address.

“I have no computer operating experience. The kids then showed me a picture of the school after looking it up online. I was astounded,” he explained.

Additionally, he discovered that the school had been relocated, so he e-mailed the principal to ask for assistance.

He got in touch with his father’s former students, many of whom still live in Malaysia, through the school management. A number of them replied to his inquiries over the following days and even pledged to help him look for the gravesite.

source: BBC

The students, who are now in their 80s, spoke highly of Mr. Thirumaran’s father, and Mr. Thirumaran stated he was startled by this.

“One of them shared with me how my father gifted him a bicycle so he could commute to work and school. Another claimed that my father assisted him with his studies when he struggled in school. I became aware of what I had lost in my own life after hearing all of this,” he said.

Upon discovering the burial site, a few of Mr. Thirumaran’s father’s former students in Malaysia let him know.  A distraught Mr. Thirumaran then travelled to Malaysia on November 8 to visit his father’s final resting place.

He approached the old cemetery in Kerling, which was concealed by a grove of trees, on a warm morning, and made his way through the many grave markers until he came to one close to the bushes. It belonged to his father.

source: BBC

“The tomb was a little worn out and overrun with wild grass, but the gravestone carried a photo of him, along with his name and birth and death dates,” recalled Mr. Thirumaran, who added that up until that point, he had not seen even a glimpse of his father.

When Thirumaran’s mother left for India, she brought with her a small amount of soil from his burial, which he claimed he had sprinkled on his mother’s grave.

An emotive Thirumaran stated, “This time, I brought a handful of earth from my mother’s final resting place and laid it on my father’s tomb. It seemed like they were sharing their love with me even after they were gone.”

source: Citizens Journal

Before leaving for India on November 16, Thirumaran cleaned the grave over the course of the following few days with help from his father’s former students. He also lit candles and conducted several prayers.

In the form of precious memories and mementos, including old photographs of his father, he claimed that the journey had given him “more than he had dreamed of.”

“His pupils told me I resemble him. This was life’s full circle for a youngster who was raised without a parent”, he said.

source: Twitter

MK Stalin, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, was also interested in Thirumaran’s narrative and tweeted that his journey and the ways in which he received assistance along the way represented “the unique cultural identity of Tamils.”

“Man is a sea of emotions. I feel Thirumaran’s search for his father’s grave was his life’s search,” he said.