I am stunned when I look with respect and awe at a picture of Prof. J. Vasanthan. The fire in his eyes, the grace in his looks, the nobility in his visage, the determination in his firm lips, his royal bearing and his majestic posture compel me into a wild guess of what an enigma of a professor he must have been!
Loved all, loved by all, hated none, and hated by none.
J.Vasanthan, started his teaching career at Madras Christian College, and later retired as Professor of English with the American College, Madurai. His passing away recently in Madurai, has created a void which cannot be replaced now or in the future. Such was his style! such was his verve! such was his commitment to his vocation!
JV (as he was fondly called by his students and admirers) was a versatile personality – a professional cartoonist, writer, actor, professor all rolled in one. He also had a wonderful sense of humour and an artful way with words. One could sit with him, at his dinner table, and listen to him recollecting fond memories of days past in MCC, or talk about Tom and Jerry, or bring out the aesthetic and the sublime in Shakespeare, or Milton or Wordsworth, or Keats, with abundant verve and gusto. He was teacher to famous stalwarts in academics, like Dr.Nirmal Selvamony, Dr.Benet, Dr.Premila, Prof.Daniel David, to name a few, and eminent politicians like Prakash Karat, etc.
He was a regular contributor to The Hindu, The Indian Express, and other reputed magazines, both as columnist and cartoonist. His columns had an aura of authenticity that exemplifies the man himself. JV was there in all his words and phrases, and he had the magical wand that bewitched the reader with his profound sense of humour and wit, that speaks volumes to his personality. Above all, he was an avid blogger, who took to blogging in his 70s, and blogged with amazing regularity on a host of issues.
The Department of English, Madras Christian College, with a deep sense of regret, condoles the passing away of the legendary JV. In him, we have lost a good professor, a noble friend, and above all, a good human being. He had it all in him..!
One of his distinguised students, Dr. D. E. Benet of the 1985 batch has this to say about him: “JV was a great teacher, a creative artist and a wonderful human being. Who could forget his passion for plays and films? His rendering of one-liners in clipped accent was always a listener’s delight. For many years through ‘The Curtain Club’ he staged choice plays for an appreciative audience. We’ll miss a remarkable man”.
As per his last wish, his body was cremated in Madurai, and his eyes were promptly donated to the eye bank.
Nobility, even after death! That’s Professor JV..!
To sum up his life, in Shakespeare’s mightly lines..:
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, “This was a man.”
His blog HERE
The Hindu’s Tribute to Prof. JV HERE
Photo Courtesy: The Hindu
I had the privilege of coming under the magic influence and noble mentor-ship, though not as his direct student of this brilliant multi-talented person at the Madras Christian College, Tambaram in the 1960’s and his passion for art and creativity brought us together. He left Tambaram to join American College, Madurai and years after his retirement I renewed our old relationship and was in regular contacts and visits. His premature departure from this world has certainly left a bog void. But his memory and creative art will be perpetuated in the form of J. Vasanthan Art Foundation bu his friends and admirers.