Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVIII No. 2, May 1-15, 2018
Kannimangalam Parameswaran Anantanarayanan.
Kannimangalam Parameswaran Anantanarayanan was a highly sought-after person in the pharmaceutical business at Vepery in the mid-20th Century.
Recalling him in his birth centenary year, a son, Dr. A. Raman, a regular contributor to these columns writes that Anantanarayanan joined the ‘Chemist & Druggist’ course offered as a technical diploma of the Government of Madras, which later became Department of Pharmacology at Madras Medical College.
He studied pharmacy for three years under the tutelage of the British qualified J. C. David, and graduated in 1940 when he was 24. He was denied a job with the Government of Madras because he belonged to Kannimangalam, since Kannimangalam was a part of Cochin State and not of the Madras Presidency. He dropped ‘K’ from his children’s initials as a sequel to this experience! However, Wilfred Pereira, who owned the then leading pharmaceutical retail chain – Wilfred Pereira (Private) Limited – recruited him as the showroom manager at Vepery head office. Here he became known to the leading health professionals and leading citizens of Madras.
While at Wilfred Pereira (Vepery), he enthusiastically trialled the efficacy of diamino-diphenyl sulphone (DapsoneTM) in managing psoriasis. What is surprising is that diamino-diphenyl sulphone is currently used in the management of inverse and pustular psoriasis. Anantanarayan established himself as one of the few pharmaceutical chemists of Madras, who could correctly read the other otherwise undecipherable handwritten scripts of Madras doctors. The worst being that of the Madras practitioner, Al. Annamalai.
In 1962, Anantanarayanan was transferred as the Manager of the Kotagiri branch of Wilfred Pereira (The Nilgiris). His lonely stay at Kotagiri provoked the artist and poet in him. He would spend his time, reading Narayaneeyam and discoursing on it with close friends particularly M. Suryanarayana Rao, a Kotagiri medical practitioner.
Other spare time, was spent composing Tamil songs in praise of his favourite deity Murugan. Because he had studied in Malayalam medium at high school, he generally struggled to write Tamil rapidly. To keep up with the speed of his thoughts, he used Malayalam script in composing close to 100 Tamil songs (Swaminatha Satakam) in praise of Murugan, all of which consistently ended with the fragment Én appané Swaminãthã. His inspiration to write poems came from Subramania Bharati, whose works he read regularly.
S. Gnanadesikan (later the Director of King Institute, Madras), N. Subbiah (Surgeon, who later migrated to America), M. Natarajan and T. K. Shanmugasundaram (Orthopaedic Surgeons), M. Natarajan (Dermatologist), C. M. Leelavathi (E.N.T. Surgeon), K. Bhasker Rao (Obstetrician-Gynaecologist), to cite a few, were all Anantanarayan’s friends. Whenever anyone needed help in consulting a senior surgeon in Madras approached Anantanarayanan, he would personally take them to one of these medical giants of the day.
Another friend in Kotagiri was P.K. Krishnan Kutty, a British qualified physician who practised in Madras. He had also studied in the same high school as Anantanarayan. The link brought them close. Another of Anantanarayan’s Kotagiri friends was Mrs. Sigrid Hydari, a Swedish woman and the widow of Saleh Akbar Hydari (ex-Indian Civil Servant, and Secretary, Railways), who had made Kotagiri, her home. She had a heart problem. Krishnan Kutty, who visited Kotagiri on holidays, would not examine a patient while on vacation. But he obliged, when Anantanarayan asked him to examine Mrs. Hydari.
At the end of 1965, Anantanarayan started his own pharmacy, Kelly’s at Kelly’s Corner, which he ran till his death in 1967. He left behind hundreds of friends he had helped with medical advice or whom he had taken to leading doctors for their advice.