The Revolutionaries: Meet Kerala Siblings Castro, Che & Valentina
Their father, a committed communist, named his children after Leftist revolutionaries who changed world history.
When Che Guevara joined the Kazhakoottam Government School in Thiruvananthapuram as a new student in Class 11, his Physics teacher could hardly contain her laughter when he said his name. After having waited patiently till the mandatory introduction was done, she asked him, “Now tell me what your real name is.”
Che Guevara MR from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, had always been accustomed to people’s disbelief until he vowed by Che himself. For many, nothing short of flashing his identity card would do the trick.
Of course, Che wasn’t quite alone in this, since his siblings were called Castro MR and Valentina MR.
Unsurprisingly, G Maniyan, their father was a committed communist. And so, his three children were named after Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro, the first woman cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova, and Marxist revolutionary, Che Guevara.
I remember the time I was studying in LKG and I would tag along with my father to party committee meetings. Even later, he would take us with him to meet other party members, who looked up to our father for his courage to name three children after communist revolutionaries.Fidel Castro
True to their names, the three siblings went on to take an active part in student politics in college. They continue to be involved in party work.
For 29-year-old Che Guevara, the peculiarity of his name first struck a chord when he was in Class 5, although he had known that he was named after a revolutionary by then.
But back then I was too little to have identified with his principles. It was somewhere between 1996 and 1998 that a Malayalam play, “Che Guevara”, bagged the State Award for the best play. That is when I began to read up on Che, and realized the depth of my father’s commitment to the party.Che Guevara MR
Although they are no strangers to attention, until Che Guevara went for his first job interview, he never realised that his name would be held against him.
The interviewers were taken aback when they learned about my name, and were worried that I would stir up an agitation at the company. They asked me whether I would take part in strikes against the firm.Che Guevara MR
After replying that he would not hesitate where matters concerned employees, he says, he never heard from them again.
Castro, however, says that apart from the occasional bullying from kids while playing cricket at a very young age, his name never gave him any problem.
Curiosity is something I see on everybody’s faces when I say my name. But soon the novelty wears off.Fidel Castro MR
Of course, says Castro, a lab technician at the Government Medical College in Thiruvananthapuram, every once in a while, patients at the hospital mistake his name for “Gastro” and dismiss him saying they didn’t need directions to the Gastroenterology Department.
Castro is married to Saranya, whose extended family has connections to the Congress Party. Though politics stays strictly off the table within the family, Castro wonders whether his father would have approved of it, if he were alive.
Valentina MR, who now lives in Kollam, says that of the three she received the least notice, since few people knew who Valentina Tereshkova was.
Not everyone knew about Valentina back then. People thought I was named Valentina because I must have been born on Valentine’s Day.Valentina MR
She adds that her husband has often told her that it was the peculiarity of their names, that first piqued his interest.
(This article has been published in arrangement with The News Minute.)
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