Toms was someone who had espoused gender equality long before it was even acknowledged in society, says academy secretary

news Thursday, April 28, 2016 - 16:05

“I just hope chief minister Chandy and his ministers don’t come and shed crocodile tears and place wreaths on Toms sir’s coffin… as was often seen in his cartoons. They would only serve to become cartoons themselves,” fumes fellow-cartoonist Sudheernath who currently doubles up as the Secretary of the Kerala Cartoon Academy.

Speaking to The News Minute, he goes on to add: “Toms sir was in coma for the past ten months in a hospital in Kottayam -Chandy’s own home district. Even after being reminded over a dozen times about Toms sir’s deteriorating health condition, the chief minister never once felt like dropping in for a visit, despite having being in and out of Kottayam almost every week. Neither did the local MLA-cum-cabinet minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan think it worthwhile.”

Sudheernath was especially critical of the state cultural minister KC Joseph who -he believes- is completely ignorant about the cultural scene in Kerala. “In his case, I’m not very surprised because he is someone who has proved time and again his classic ignorance about who’s who in Kerala’s cultural scenario. Our cultural minister had very famously in the past written to the late cartoonist Shankar's children referring to their father as the erstwhile former chief minister of Kerala on the assumption that he was writing to those of R Shankar’s!”

“Do you know he had also once commissioned the sculpture of CV Raman the scientist to be put up in the state capital mistaking him for CV Raman Pillai the noted novelist, playwright and journalist? It was only taken down when noticed by someone in the media.” he recollects.

Cartoonist Prasannan -the Kerala Cartoon Academy Chairman- too expressed his anguish at the seeming indifference shown by the state government in Toms' case.

"Till now, they have not been able to take a decision with regard to the conduct of his funeral," Prasannan grieved.

Even though Toms may never have been the recipient of any of the Padma awards, Sudheeran believes Toms has a permanent niche carved out in every Malayali’s heart.

“Toms sir was someone who had espoused gender equality for over half a century. Haven’t you seen it in his frames…both Boban and Molly share equal space. This at a time, when gender equality did not even figure in the public conscience.”

Sudheeran goes on to term Toms as an ordinary ‘Kuttanadan’ Malayali who preferred to live as one among the commoners, never hankering after wealth or fame.

"Toms was a genuine person both in his personal as well as professional life. It is this genuineness that seeped through in his cartoons. Even the President of India had referred to Toms' work on how tactfully he dealt with women's issues in his cartoons," Prasannan remembers.

Endowed with an amazing sense of humour, Toms always shied away from the limelight and was well content with the very ordinariness of life, which however went on to ironically spawn a host of comic characters that made him famous among Malayalis.

Read- Toms, the cartoonist who made Malayalis read from back to front.

         - How cartoonist Toms gave birth to the iconic 'Bobanum Mollyum'


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