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A former student in the Religious Instruction Class

As a young boy growing up in the MCC campus, Dr. Gift Siromoney was one person that I looked up to and idolized. He was a rare genius without the eccentricity. No question was turned down as too silly and always answered with knowledge and understanding. Gift inculcated in me an abiding sense of curiosity about the abundant nature that surrounded us in MCC. Later I had the privilege of being in his religious instruction class while doing my PUC. Gift would often take our class for a stroll through the scrub pointing out the flora and fauna or tracing the path of ancient water courses that once flowed through the campus or just sitting and reading a psalm under the shade of the trees.

Gift once pointed out some Stone Age adze chips to me. I first thought that he was pulling my leg, but some months later I found a large adze in the bushes on my way to class. I ran straight to Gift and his excitement over the find was contagious. I still have the adze in my possession and it thrills young visitors to my home to handle something as ancient as this.

One couldn't help but get drawn into the world of the multitalented man, whether it was his butterfly migration project, investigations at Mamallapuram, Chola bronzes, logging the variety of bird life that were resident or migratory in MCC, he had the knack of drawing you into his world at whatever level.

I will always remember Dr. Siromoney as the man who made me think, made me value the biodiversity of the Tambaram scrub, to bring reason and rationalism to tasks laid out for us.

In his passing, I lost not just a mentor but a good friend.

Mithran Devanesen

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