Veteran freedom fighter’s son recalls his dad’s love for literature

Chennai: On the eve of Independence Day, Jeevamani Kumar, son of freedom fighter and Communist leader P Jeevanandam, recalls his dad’s role in the freedom struggle and how he is remembered now in the locality of Tambaram in the city suburb.

Jeevanandham was born in Boothapandi (then princely State of Travancore which is now in Kanyakumari district) to an orthodox middle-class family on 21 August 1907. He started his political life based on Gandhian ideas.

“In 1924, he participated in the agitation against upper-caste Hindus, where Dalits were barred from walking on the road leading to the temple at Vaikom,” Jeevamani said.

The Communist leader was a great admirer of Subramanya Bharati and his poems. His translation of Bhagat Singh’s ‘Why I Became an Atheist’ in Tamil earned him imprisonment, recalled the son.

The Communist leader was interested in literature, too. He translated Sangam literature like Ahananuru and Purananuru into simple language to enable common folk understand them easily, Jeevamani said.

In 1962, Jeevanandam’s health suffered a setback. He visited Soviet Union and took treatment there and returned at the end of the year. However, his health worsened weeks later.

On 18 January 1963, he died at his modest home at Kasturibai Nagar in West Tambaram.

When he was alive and as MLA for Vannarapettai constituency, he helped establish a school, where his son Jeevamani is secretary now.

Former Chief Minister Kamarajar laid the foundation stone for the school. The need for the school was brought to the notice by the then member of Tambaram Municipality Ta Mu Govindan.

As a mark of respect to Jeevanandam, his statue has been installed on the premises of Tambaram Municipality Commercial Complex at Periyar Nagar, near Tambaram railway station, on 8 May 1995.