I am referring to the emotional side, yes emotional side of the man whom, at least I had never seen that way anytime before.
This happened in Madras-now Chennai sometime in 1986-87. He was in Madras and I had coincided my visit to Madras office as he wanted me to accompany him to the residence of Shri B Sivaraman, former cabinet secretary of India.
I met him at his hotel. He told me that few months back the Indian Dairy Association had honoured Shri Sivaraman and as he was unable to attend the ceremony, he (Dr Kurien) had taken the responsibility to personally handover the award citation when he is next in Madras. Dr. Kurien had phoned him earlier, obtained his address and fixed a time to go and see him.
When we reached at the given address, Dr. Kurien looked a bit shocked. This was a very ordinary 3 storied apartment building. There was no greenery around it though the surroundings were fairly clean. The building itself appeared a bit depilated like any of those poorly maintained housing board properties.
Shri Sivaraman welcomed us in his 2nd or 3rd story apartment. I noticed that we were in a very small living room, measuring no more then 10×10 feet and there was hardly any furniture. There were just a divan and 4 steel folding chairs. Simple whitewashed walls were bare too.
After exchange of pleasantries Dr Kurien handed him the award and we set down for a small talk over a cup of tea. Soon tea arrived in the most ordinary ceramic cups. The two of them recalled what a great experience it was to work with Shri C. Subramanium, the former minister for agriculture, government of India. The talked about green revolution in which, few know that a very important role was played by Shri Sivaraman himself.
Since Shri Sivaraman was not keeping too well, we begged leave of him and left his house. As we were coming down the stairs, Dr. Kurien said, “Nagar”, and then he suddenly stopped. I looked at him and saw his eyes had welled up. He suddenly became quite. I asked him, “are you ok sir”? He just nodded his head to convey a yes.
We got into the car and drove towards his hotel. On the way, Dr. Kurien said in a very low voice choked with emotions and with tears in his eyes, “can you believe that this man was cabinet secretary of India? He had the reputation of being a very honest and upright man. Now look at the conditions in which he is living a post retirement life. Is this the way our government should be looking after a retired senior bureaucrat like him?” He was feeling chocked and couldn’t say anything further.
We completed the rest of the drive to his hotel in total silence. As he alighted from the car, he was still tearful and signalled me to drive off as he made his way into the hotel.
That day I had seen a very different Dr. Kurien.