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The Rediff Special/Meena Vijayakumar
October 28, 2004
K Vijayakumar, chief of the Special Task Force and the man who captured Veerappan, describes his wife Meena as a woman of strength. She is amused at the description but she is a woman who is calm and in control of situations.
Away from the limelight all these years, she talked to rediff.com for the first time about her life with a man who is always in the middle of action, about how she spent the day her husband was in the jungle hunting Veerappan.
An exclusive interview conducted by rediff.com Special Contributing Correspondent Shobha Warrier.
I used to spend a week with my husband at Satyamangalam, and the next in Chennai with our daughter Ashwini, who is studying here. The reason why I decided to go to Satyamangalam the week Veerappan was killed was because I knew something was going to happen.
He (Vijayakumar) left that afternoon telling me the operation would take place at night. So I was aware of what was happening that night but didn't know much about the exact operation.
I was not tense that day. On the other hand, on earlier occasions, I was a little anxious, but, of course, nothing happened.
Yes, I was praying for his success but I never thought the operation would be successful that night.
It is another matter that I always used to assure him of success! I felt I had to do that. The educated class might say it's a stupid belief but somebody who had seen his horoscope had told me he would be successful this time. A palmist friend of mine also told me my husband would be back home by the end of October. So I gave him hope. You see, it is hope that keeps him going.
So when he called around 11.30 that night, it was a real surprise!
No, no, he didn't call me first; he called all his superiors first and then called me.
Actually, our phone had gone dead at 9.45 at night and I didn't know that. So when he tried to get me, he could not.
When his call did not come, I thought nothing dramatic had happened. By then, he had called up the office, and they came with a mobile phone so that he could talk to me.
He said, 'Everything is over.' I asked, 'Is that so?' Of course, it was a short call as he had to make many more calls. Now, when I look back, I feel my reaction was not enough! I should have shown more excitement. I didn't jump up in happiness or anything like that. Some people cry when they hear such dramatic news. In my case, I was quite normal. I surprised myself with my reaction!
Then I also started making calls. I called my daughter first and then my son Arjun, who is in Sydney and conveyed the news. My daughter took the news quite calmly while my son was very excited. Unlike my daughter, he likes this kind of action. Then I called my father-in-law and all other relatives. In fact, I wondered whether I should wake everybody up at 12.30 at night but then I did! It was five o'clock in the morning by the time I had finished making calls. So, the whole night went off talking over the phone.
He reached home by the time, and went straight to the pooja room. He has this habit of going to the pooja room before he goes to work, and also does the same thing the moment he comes back. He is very religious but in a peculiar way. He would be wearing his uniform and shoes still he goes to the pooja room to pray. Only after praying, he would talk to us. He has been a very religious person, and it has only increased with age.
After praying, we went off to the Bammari Amman temple to tonsure his head.
Whichever temple we had been to, he would take some vow. So, I used to tell him, we should keep a list of all the vows we have taken! Otherwise, we would forget.
Anyway, that whole day was like a dream; it just flew. From the temple, we rushed to Dharmapuri where he had a press meet. Though we were in the same vehicle, I didn't even get a chance to talk to him; he was continuously on the phone. He wanted me to travel with him. He said, "I won't be able to spend time with you at home. So you come with me." That was why I was with him.
Then again, I wanted to see the press meet because I had not seen one before. But it was so crowded that I went back to the hotel room and sat there. It was a room where there was no television.
Now, everybody has been asking him about the walk he is planning to take. He had taken the vow some time back. Every time he felt low, I used to talk about the things we would do once it was all over. See, he cannot talk about this to a third person, not to his superiors, nor subordinates. So, when we went for walks, I used to talk to him about how many kilometres we would walk, which route we should take etc. It was just to make him feel relaxed.
I think, he wants to postpone the walk as there is too much publicity about it. He will walk after all this quietens down. Now, so many people want to join him in the walk but it is a very personal thing.
When I got married to him in 1977, I was only 18, too young to even think of the kind of life I would be spending with a police officer. I grew up in Udumalpet near Coimbatore where my father was practising as a doctor. After my marriage, I couldn't even continue my studies. I had no idea what I was getting into. Because I was too young, I think I got moulded into the life of a police officer. Had I been more educated or working, I would have taken more time to adjust.
Now, when I look back, I feel we had to make a lot of sacrifices. We don't socialise much because of the kind of work he does. He prefers to keep away from people, and also prefers that I also do the same. In the two years he was in Chennai as the police commissioner, we only saw one film together, and that was Kaakha kaakha.
But we try to be together at the dinner table. Even if all of us have already eaten earlier, when he comes home, we all sit with him at the dinner table, and we talk. We always do that.
The most difficult time for us as a family was the two-and-a-half years from 1998 when he was in Srinagar. We (the family) were in Delhi and he was in Srinagar. During that period I used to shuttle between Delhi and Srinagar.
When I was in Srinagar, I used to worry about my children, and when I was in Delhi, I used to worry about my husband. If we couldn't contact him one day, we used to get a little tense. I would only say, a little tense because I believe in destiny. Whatever that has to happen will happen. Wherever he is, he has this habit of leading from the front, but I can't tell him, don't go, don't do that.
Maybe that belief has helped me tide over tense situations. I do worry but I don't let the children know.
The most difficult posting of his has been, of course, as head of the STF. He used to feel he had wasted so much of his life trying to catch one person, and it used to make him very angry. I used to tell him, 'if you finish the job, it will be a great thing. Nothing comes easy.' I kept telling that all the time.
At home, he is a totally different person from what others see. He is very relaxed and also disorganised. My daughter says I have made him like that. He doesn't take any responsibility at home. The kind of planning he does in his professional life, he doesn't do at home. I used to wonder how he could perform so well professionally, planning everything meticulously. At home, he leaves everything to me!
My son wanted to be a police officer like his father but my husband dissuaded him. He said, enough. I also felt one police officer in the family is enough.
My daughter keeps asking him, have you really taken a gun and shot people, how many people have you killed? But he never gives a clear answer. I look at it as his work. If you take Veerappan's case also, how many people has he (Veerappan) killed? How many families have suffered because of him? You cannot justify those deeds.
We haven't celebrated his success yet. I think we will celebrate only when our son comes back in December. In fact, we are yet to get some time together to sit and talk. Even I have come to know about the details of the operation from television and newspapers only. He has been extremely busy all these days.
Now, I am going to demand some time from him but I am sure about one thing; we won't be talking about Veerappan!
I want my husband to come back home and take over his fatherly duties! I also want him to have a light posting after all these years of hard work.Photographs: K Vijaykumar: Sanjay Ghosh | Meena Vijayakumar: Sreeram Selvaraj