Wednesday, 16 September 2009

R N Homer : Revolutionary family

The inter-caste marriage bureau established by R. N. Homer is the first step in his mission to create a casteless society. The name board that hangs prominently in front of the humble house at Kedamangalam, near North Paravur, cannot be missed. It reads ‘Nila Prometheus Remani Homer, the Heroes of this House.’ Strange it may sound but it loudly proclaims the names of the four members of the family who live in that house.

Ask R. N. Homer, revolutionary-atheist, the head of the family and he has his reasons for this. “I named my daughter after the famous river Nila. Prometheus, the Greek God of Fire, was the name I gave my son. And after all I was named after the great writer Homer. Remani is my wife,” Homer says.

Homer is now scripting a new mission, to create a casteless society. And as a prelude to this he has been involved in a number of activities including running a unique inter-caste marriage bureau, Kedamangalam Misra Vivah Bureau, from his house.

Revolutionary

The revolutionary trait runs in Homer’s blood. His grandfather Kelu had participated in ‘misrabhojanam’ or feeding different castes organised by Sahodaran Ayyappan in 1926. Homer was perhaps inspired by his grandfather’s principles. Born into a Hindu Ezhava family, Homer married Remani who belonged to the Velan community. One of his aunts was named Karuna, after the famous poem by Kumaran Asan, by none other than Sahodaran Ayyappan. One of his uncles was named Tirumeni or Brahmin priest to ridicule the caste system prevalent during the times.

Homer’s marriage bureau does not restrict clients on the basis of ‘naal porutham’ or matching of horoscopes, colour of brides and grooms, financial background, religion, caste etc. “The only thing I insist on, the only condition I propose is that both, the bride and groom, should be from different castes. Only inter-caste marriage registrations are permitted in my bureau. Some friends compel me to find brides and grooms from the same caste, which I always reject politely. I tell them that there are umpteen number of marriage bureaus for them.”

There is a registration charge of Rs. 800 at this marriage bureau. Homer insists that the parents of both the bride and groom come to the office and register the name. This, he says, is to avoid any sort of malpractice. “Once the marriage proposal is settled, a fee ranging from Rs. 3,000-15,000 is charged from the parents. Of course, the fee varies depending on the financial background of the people concerned.” There have been numerous occasions when the parents proceed with the marriage proposal once the two parties come to know each other, ignoring the bureau.

Those registered with the bureau are given the bio-data of matching grooms and brides. Thereafter it is imperative for the parents to enquire about the veracity of the claims mentioned in the registration forms. Apart from the customary details, there are provisions for mentioning religion, caste, zodiac sign, blood group, height etc. of the incumbents in the registration form. “The mindset of the average Malayali has not been changed despite so many social reforms. They are still mad after beauty, dowry, fabulous wedding and spendthrift activities.” feels Homer.

Homer started this bureau after taking voluntary retirement from his job as a clerk in the Civil Supplies Corporation, Kochi. “I was forced to take this step because I never stood for corruption. I was an active trade union worker and tried to fight against the corruptive practices in the organisation. But as it usually happens I was always at the receiving end. A transfer to Munnar came as the last straw. I resigned in 2006,” says Homer who is bitter about trade unions, political parties who did not back him fully during his ordeal at his workplace.

Committed

Today the marriage bureau is Homer’s main source of livelihood. He has yet to get the legitimate compensation from the Civil Supplies Corporation. “I have filed a petition before the High Court for the immediate release of my pension and other benefits.” His wife Remani, a homemaker, helps him manage the marriage bureau.

The ideals propagated by Kelu has been kept alive by Homer. “My children have no religion or caste. Even their school certificates will show no caste or religion.

In fact, a Kerala Government Order of 1974, specifies that school authorities cannot insist on putting down one’s caste or religion.” His son Amar Prometheus has completed his B.Com degree and daughter Nila is a second year degree student.

Apart from all this Homer is a literary buff, a passion that began from his school days. He writes stories, poems and articles for journals and progressive magazines. His writings focus on social, political and judicial hypocrisy. He is also an active member of the inter-caste married forum, rationalist association and socio-cultural forum.

SURESH
KUMAR

No comments: