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'Anand had the potential and lived up to it'

March 16, 2007

Anand's father Viswanathan

Viswanathan, Anand's father goes back in time and talks about how he brought up his children, the discipline he instilled in them and some memorable moments.

Anand was a lovely child; a bundle of joy. If the family is disciplined, automatically children will grow up very disciplined in life. Similarly, there should be love among all the family members.

Though I was very busy working for the Railways, I kept Sundays for my children. I used to make breakfast for my children on Sundays. I used to make omelets for them, and they loved it. As my wife would not touch eggs, I took it as my duty to make it for them. I used to also play table tennis with them. After all that, we used to have an excellent lunch, made by their mother. When children see that their father is doing something for them, there develops an attachment, a strong bond.

For a child to develop well, there should be a happy environment at home. Since Anand was born 11 years after my daughter Anu, both my elder son and daughter loved him a lot. So, he grew up in an atmosphere of love and affection. I think that has made him a smiling person and he never talks ill or is critical of others.

Even when he beat highly-ranked players there was no show of arrogance. I still remember when he beat Manuel Aaron, who was then the National champion, as a child, there was no reaction from Anand, though Aaron was stunned. Emotional outbursts are dangerous. I am happy that he is a balanced person.

I feel a parent should not criticise the child all the time. He should encourage the child and not discourage him. We lived in huge Railway quarters and though we had so many games there, he took to chess. We didn't discourage him; on the other hand, we played chess with him. When he took to chess, we did not think he would be world champion one day. No, we encouraged him because it gave him happiness.

I am a great believer in the hand of God and I believe in destiny. Let us not assume that all the wisdom had come from us. Anand also believes in God but not in rituals, because he has no time for rituals. Divine help is always necessary.

In fact, at one point we were worried about what to do with him because in the Indian chess field, he was almost at the top. But what about studies? He got admission in the Medical College and Engineering College, but if he joined a professional course, his chess would get affected. So we decided that he would do B.Com.

Thirukural (Thirukural is a book of wisdom, written by Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar) says a father should be proud of his son, and similarly, the son also should be should be proud of his family. It was a matter of pride for us when we came to be known as Anand's parents. Somebody said, the baton was passed from one GM to another. I was a General Manager in the Railways!

There are lots and lots happy moments we recall. He has given us happiness right through. So, it is difficult to pick one happy moment.

He had won both the sub-junior and junior World championships. I was extremely happy when he won the bronze medal at the Chess Olympiad as a child. He was very sick that day; he had jaundice. After each move, he used to fall asleep on the table. He couldn't go to the podium properly because he was so sick. I am more proud of that moment than his becoming the World Number One.

Whenever we see him play, we get tense. Now that we watch his games only on the Internet, and not in person, there is not much tension.

He had a lot of potential and he lived up to it. For the last ten years, he has been world number two. Never went below three.

When Anand broke the news about his becoming World Number One, I told him, we are proud of you. What else can a father say? We are extremely proud of his achievements. It is a dream come true. I was expecting it any time.

What will I give him when he comes home, is the question that I hear all the time. He is coming home! What else, but a good bear hug! Then, he will get what he wants. He is very fond of Amma's rasam, and we will make that for him. More than anything, he is coming home!

Photograph: Sreeram Selvaraj

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