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Mourning the loss

We have gathered here to honour the memory of our beloved colleague and teacher Dr. Gift Siromoney. We are at the end of a great era what we may call as the Siromoney era. It is difficult to think that Dr. Siromoney is no more with us and much more difficult at this juncture to speak about him. But I draw courage from his own example. Nearly 12 years ago, when another colleague of ours passed away he suppressed his emotions and spoke about her. He ended his speech by saying that the flowers left by her in the department will remain there always. Dr.Siromoney was like a flower, a gift of God to us, who filled everything around him with sweet fragrance which will never fade away. We could not have asked for a better friend, a better colleague and a better head of our department, we thank God for the great privilege of being associated with him.

He was one of the finest leaders of men. He knew our needs, our capacities as well as our deficiencies. Neither age nor status prevented him from getting close to all of us and helping us with our needs and requirements. His enthusiasm and zeal to experiment and try new things radiated so brightly that all of us were automatically drawn in and it was a great joy to be associated with him in his journeys of discovering new frontiers of knowledge.

He was a stickler for details and will not stop until perfection was achieved. You could find him go to West Tambaram five or six times to get the correct shade of colour for a thesis jacket or the right type setting for a department letter head. The moment he gets a new idea, he would get on to his motorbike and come straight to a colleague to discuss it. If he gets his mind on something, he would do it immediately, no matter how much effort was required. His face never showed the strain of the effort he took, as he loved what he was doing.

He loved children and was a favorite uncle to them, I remember the glee with which my children recognized the sound of his motorbike. He would stop and talk to them despite his preoccupations. He loved nature, the trees, the flowers, the buds and the butterflies, and he studied all of them in detail. He loved this college more than anything else and during this long association starting from 1950 made vital contributions to its academic, spiritual and material life.

It is impossible for me to go through the length, breadth and depth of his research work. It is so vast and varied that a team of scholars associated with him in different fields should do that. But I would like to say a few things on his achievements. He was the one person who put Madras Christian College in the International map on research in Pattern Recognition. He could take ordinary things of day to day life and web great theories around them. The Kolam Grammar or Siromoney Grammar as it is known today is but one example. The Department of Statistics and the Kibble Computer Center are standing examples of his untiring efforts to add new things to the college and the way he presided over the department for 18 years is a model to be emulated. He always combined his high intellectual ability with love of his fellow beings especially the down-trodden. Above all, he was a man of God. He had great faith in God. His remarkable ability in music was fully utilized to sing praises to God. He was a complete man.

We praise God for the remarkable life of Dr.Siromoney. Though it was short it was so full and rich. May God give us all and especially the family of Dr. Siromoney the strength and the courage to bear this irreparable loss and to continue his good work in our own limited way. May his soul rest in peace.

J. P. VIJAYATHILAKAN (Colleague: 1964-88)
Formerly: Head, Department of Statistics, 1988-1998.

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