The death of A. Ayyappan, the people’s poet in Kerala, as a destitute and his funeral with state honour has drawn much flak from different quarters in the state.
Ayyappan (61) died in an accident on Friday, but got a state funeral five days later on Tuesday.
A winner of Kerala Sahitya Academy award, Ayyappan was slated to receive the Kumaran Asan memorial award, the highest literary award in Malayalam, in Chennai on Wednesday. Ayyappan was knocked down by a vehicle on Thursday while on his way to the railway station.
According to the police, the poet was taken to a hospital on Thursday night. He passed away late in the night but his identity remained unknown.
It was only the next day that he was identified and culture minister MA Baby took the responsibility of the funeral.
The list of people who came to pay their respects included chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan, opposition leader Oommen Chandy, state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala and CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan.
There weren’t, however, many takers for Baby’s claim that Ayyappan’s last rites were delayed at his family’s request. Later, Baby said his friends requested to postpone it to Wednesday.
Known littérateur and critic Sukumar Azhikode and others have blasted the government for delaying the funeral and threatened to perform the last rites if the government continued to delay it.
“Nobody needs you when you are alive, but hundreds are there to cry when you die,” one of his friends summed up the mood during the funeral.