Saddam in Kerala

Read this...an interesting story in today's TOI.
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Saddam’s Palakkad connection

The Sunday Times, Nov 26
When the news of Saddam Hussein’s capture in a dark hole exploded towards the end of 2003, and humiliating images of his bearded deranged face, and of his jaws opening for medical inspection, were beamed on television, another old man far away felt something turn inside his stomach. Seventy-one-year-old P Sivasankaran Nair, for long in the peace of Palakkad in Kerala, rubbed his chest to console himself.

Nair was the chief cook at the Basra International Airport between 1982 and 1987, once a heady place where Saddam Hussein used to come for elaborate dinners. During that tenure, Nair’s path had crossed the dictator’s when he made a Tamil snack called bonda, a type of batata vada. Nair remembers that Saddam was so enamoured with the bonda that he asked animated questions about it.

Long before that meeting, Nair had considered Saddam a profitable god. “I educated my children, married off my daughter and constructed a house with his money. To be honest, I’m indebted to him for all the comforts that I enjoy today,” Nair says. He lives in a traditional house, that has a cosy purposeful austerity about it, in Kalpati, a Tamil Brahmin village.

His gratitude is so immense that when he opened a provisions store in 1989, upon his return from Iraq, he named it Saddam Stores. He sent some pictures of the shop to Saddam Hussein along with a letter in English —

Dear Supreme Leader,
I’d worked in your country for five years. I came back to Kerala some two years back. To keep myself busy, today, I opened a small shop at my village. It’s my honour to name the shop after your Supreme Name. Whatever I’m today, it’s because of the salary you paid me. By your blessings, my family is leading a comfortable life. Welfare be with you always.
With profound love and regards,
P S Nair

The letter not only reached Saddam, it also impressed him so much that he released the pictures of Nair’s shop and the flattering epistle to the local media with a statement in Arabic —
“So many people come and work in Iraq. But it took one Nair from a distant land to express his gratitude. It’s not religion that matters. But the bond of human love. I’m touched by Nair’s gesture. This is what I call loyalty. This is what I expect from every Iraqi. Insha Allah.”

Nair’s friends in Iraq sent him the clippings. The story didn’t end there. Saddam Hussein sent a personal emissary, Muther Ali, to India who met Nair. And the message was conveyed to Nair that Saddam wanted him to return to Iraq. But, when Nair cited age-related problems which forced him to remain at home, Saddam welcomed his children to join him at his palace. Unfortunately, none of them were of employable age then. Eldest son Suresh was studying in the tenth standard, second son Murali was in the eighth and Pusha, the youngest child, was in the fifth.

“Saddam conveyed that I was the most loyal citizen of Iraq and the country’s doors would always remain open to me. Ali presented a gold watch and Rs 16,000 in cash,” Nair says, producing the watch from his cupboard’s locker. The timepiece carries Saddam’s picture on the dial.

Nair has removed the watch’s battery to save it from the tedium of being in a working condition. “I’m praying for his welfare. Daily, I do archana in his name at the Shiva temple here. I’m certain he will come out unscathed,” Nair says, throwing his hands towards the heavens.

When he is confronted with the question why he worships a man who is believed to have killed thousands, Nair flashes an angry look. “Who says…?” he thunders. “It’s the US which is harping on this. I don’t believe a bit of it. Kuwait deserved to be invaded because it didn’t pay what was due to Iraq. Then the killing of Kurds...you should understand Iraq was a military regime. It had its own laws. People who violated the laws also knew the punishment they faced.”

Nair ends his political observations with the conclusion, “It’s Bush who should be hanged.” TNN


  1. Well, at least he got the conclusion right! In a world of reason, Bush, the war criminal who violated the Geneva Conventions, should be hanged for his crimes!

    Where can I get a Saddam watch??

  2. To get that Saddam watch you might have to spend a few years in Iraq, though you migth not get a chance to prove your loyalty. Better to raid Bush's cupboard. These days, I am told, giving Condi a special smile can get you very far...and we ARE talking about time-pieces:-)

    PS: If you are interested in historical perspective (like 2003!), read my views at http://farzana-versey.blogspot.com/2006/11/damn-saddam.html

  3. Yet another opportunist makes hay and rides the gravy train while kissing the boots of a foreign dictator who crushed the will of his own subjects - which does not bother the opportunist the least bit! So, what's new!

  4. Dunno where my first comment went.

    Anyways...I find the story to be rather humane. The good fellow has the resolve to thank a person whom he believes made his life comfortable. That should not hurt.

  5. I suppose foreign dictators who crush other countries are kosher, and not only happily living under those regimes but justifying them is not opportunism...strange...


    Unfortunately, being humane is seen as weakness in this world. It hurts the status quo...
    PS: Hope you are well; this is the only place I will know. My haal is public knowledge!

  6. Dear Lamp o' peace (or, Peace o' Deep)

    Don't you think the fellow is rather one-sided in his admiration of the cruel (ex-)dictator?! He resolutely keeps singing Saddam's praise - refusing to look beyond his narrow vision and totally oblivious of all the cruel acts of the dictator.

    And no, GWB is no dictator. He was legitimately elected - twice. His acts of war were sanctioned by the US Congress, and he does not need a "legal framework order" or declare himself a "cheap executive" of any joint!

    All of THAT is perfectly kosher for some people!!


  7. Dear Beej

    It is easy to relate to their emotions if you take people on their face values. “Seed” sown in far away lands have given fruits to many a family here. Does it matter where I win a Lottery Ticket…in India or in Iraq or in the US as long as I am grateful for being lucky!

    Sab kairiyat hai. Shukriya!

  8. Ama(n) Deep,

    You really ARE deep!

    (Are you sure you are not me?!)

    (I mean REALLY sure?)

    [It is easy to relate to their emotions if you take people on their face values.]
    Show us your face and I will relate to you – perhaps even believe you!

    [Does it matter where I win a Lottery Ticket…in India or in Iraq or in the US as long as I am grateful for being lucky!]
    Actually, US lotteries are restricted to US residents – by law! So it does matter.

    Love ya. You SHOULD have been me. Then you could be grateful for being lurky!

  9. Dear Beej,

    Let me be simpler...

    1. Allow people to be thankful to "others". As for me, those who like me say I am quite photogenic :-)

    2. Ah! Lotteries. Believe it or get it confirmed...but you do not need to be a U.S. citizen to play or to claim a prize. Generally Non-residents are required to provide an address outside of the U.S., and at least 30 percent of the prize amount (25 percent Federal, 5 percent State) is automatically deducted for mandatory income withholding taxes. "BUT" If you are a US citizen and you play a foreign lottery through the mail or by phone, you are violating federal law. Some Law na...

    Anyways...honestly, I feel its Farzana's beautiful blog and lets not "lurk" around too much. If you allow...lets close this thread.

    Love ya too Beej


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