March 10, 2012

Tribute: P. Krishnaswamy, Indian Express

Journalists have lots of stories to tell. And they are fascinating and important.

After all, journalism is history written in a hurry.

P. Krishnaswamy's book, when published it is bound to have stories of a time and life that many of us are familiar with.

The Sri Lankan story in our state.

But when that book is released, 'PK' as all his friends called him will not be around to read passages from it and savour the pleasure of a book released.

For PK passed away on Thursday in Madurai, crumbling to a cardiac problem.

He passed away with his boots on. Boots he wore though he was in his 80s. Boots he wore at work at the 'Indian Express' in the south Indian temple city.

I met PK on the sand dunes of Rameswaram. In the late 90s. I was at 'The Week' magazine ( of the Malayala Manorama group of Kerala) and having learnt the basics of the Sri Lankan Tamil problem as an understudy to my predecessor, Bhagawan R Singh, was touring south Tamil Nadu furiously to report on the issue.

PK, in his 50s had walked in the heat and sailed off the coast many, many times. A Sri Lankan from the upcountry, he was the best person at the 'Express' to report on this burning issue and that evening I learnt how he would take the horrible state-run buses every other week to tour Ramnad and Rameswaram island to report first hand.

From then on he was a friend and a contact and every Madurai visit would often include a breakfast at his house where his wife made great hoppers ( appams ) in an earthen 'chatti'.

PK could never retire. It wasn't in his DNA. Neither could the 'Express' forget him. So he got contracted again and again and between editorial work, he penned his memoirs.

Memoirs of a man who had a great innings in Colombo's newspapers till one morning, he and his family had to flee and take refuge in Tamil Nadu as the sparks of race riots flew.

We were discussing ways to promote the book the last time I made a pit stop in Madurai.

He bid farewell before that could take place.

I will be glad to help get his book published.

Many of us have stories to be told. Put them down - for posterity.

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