The year was 1987. It seems only like yesterday that we were a bunch of shy and diffident kids, fresh out of school, entering a new engineering college, venturing out of home and experiencing hostel life for the first time.

As is to be expected, your locality determined the initial groupings we had: the Madras gang, the Mallu gang, the Nellai gang & the Nagercoil gang were the popular groups we got sorted into. Most of us stuck to our own group.  Till the end of the first semester, interactions were limited to our own group. Gradually we started smiling at other batch mates reluctantly. The smile that broke the initial city-based Madras group barrier for me, was the welcoming smile of Paul Jebakaran from the Nagercoil gang who was also my Mathew block mate.

Paul’s smile was infectious and made you want to be his friend. In fact, his nickname “PUMA Paul” was actually the abbreviation for “Punnagai Mannan”, a very apt nickname for him.

Paul was studious and excelled in Mechanical Engineering which was our choice of branch. He was always willing to teach / tutor friends in the intricate aspects of Thermodynamics & Applied Mechanics.  I too have benefited from his coaching more than once. Even during exams, he was always willing to teach friends forgeoing his own study time. He used to write clear notes after listening attentively to daily class lectures for all subjects. He never hesitated to give his meticulously prepared notes to other needy students. He was adept at clearing all our doubts in difficult subjects and his smile always encouraged us to approach him at all times.

Paul with the one and only Moses David Raja

After Karunya, Paul had a short stint in Madras working in the auto parts line.  He then went to the Gulf to further his career in the ISO Audit field. I lost contact with this dear friend, however, we were glad to catch up on our friendship through Social Media in 2011.

Paul was truly loveable and an unforgettable friend for many of us in the 91 batch. Four things come to mind when we think of him, first and foremost his smiling face, followed by his hard work, helping tendency and hospitality. My roommate Kader vouches for the hospitality part, having enjoyed fish kulambu many times in Paul’s home.

Paul did his schooling in Carmel School Nagercoil, his father was a Tahsildar. He was part of a large family. It was indeed a great shock for all of us when the news of his sudden demise came at the end of 2014.

Barath Wilson, Moses David Raja, D.Thomas, Emerson & Austin at Paul’s burial

Maybe God felt that his angelic smile must be part of the glorious place where angels dwell and their smile lingers on forever. Farewell Paul, till we meet again on that beautiful shore.


Share This Post