Friday, April 18, 2008

In Memoriam: K. Thomas Varghese

K. Thomas Varghese died this week, my old friend and former colleague from the Department of Economics at James Madison University here in Harrisonburg, Virginia. What is below the fold was written about him. Once upon a time, he really did carry a maybe message concealed in his shoe across a difficult border at considerable personal peril. He was a man of courage and honor, and I and my wife, Marina, will miss him and always remember him with fondness and gratitude. Rest in peace, Tom.

The Maybe Messenger

The maybe messenger with the maybe message
Travels by bus, he travels by plane,
He travels by boat, he travels in the mind
Of the sender of the maybe message.

Why do they wait for the long messages?
They are the ones with no conclusions.
They are not epitaphs nor epilogues,
But the dappled points of the maybe saga.

"It is just a movie," say the children,
Of the maybe saga and its manifestations.
But who is the director, the producer?
Does the State license the studio?

The interior monologuist mumbles his maybes.
The reels clatter in the movie theater of his mind.
It has all been taped and red taped,
And the critics know an unlikely story when they see one.

"There is never enough time," say the actors.
"There is too much time between the time," they say.
Where did they learn their lines?
Was the scriptwriter shot after his many awards?

If he were here he could speak to the nameless committee,
The one that decides on the final editing,
Was the maybe message a script revision?
Or was it merely a small portion of the script?

They attempted to understand in the subcommittees,
They became subconscious of the maybe message,
Perhaps it would be waylaid and misplaced,
Lost in the subconscious subcommittee's sublimations.

Buses break down and planes crash.
Customary entries can be revealing and less.
All of this and more makes the maybe message maybe,
All of the intervening meaninglessness of loss.

But at its core it is not a maybe message
It is only the means and not the ends
That are in dispute, the endless wranglings
Of the subcommittees of the self-appointed.

"They are nice guys who understand love," says one.
"They are omnipotent and omniscient and will get you," says another.
And these would agree in policy, it appears.
The nameless committee leaves the cuttings on the floor.

The maybe messenger treks a pilgrimage from India.
The tears of Moscow mights wash their dreams.
They know the dream of love drives their movie.
The maybe message is a footnote to their waiting.

June 2, 1984

2 comments: said...

Well, earlier today (Saturday, April 19) I attended his funeral, with his extensive extended family in attendance. When I wrote this post I had not known of the exact date of Tom Varghese's death. However, I now know it. It was one week ago today, my 60th birthday.

Last night I attended a gathering for his family and friends at which people spoke. I explained the story of his carrying a message in his shoe across a difficult border, which only his immediate family knew.


NeilShow said...

I am one who had the privilege of being one of Dr. Varghese's (and Dr. Rosser's for that matter) students and a friend of his son, Ben way back in the '70's and again in grad school in the '90's. I had occasion to quote Dr. Varghese to a friend yesterday..."If you don't know what you are looking for, you will never find it." all-time favorite aphorism. Remembering him drove me to the internet today to see what he might be up to...
His energy for teaching was a blessing to we lucky students of his, which have to number in the thousands...such is the influence of a good teacher and a good man.

Neil Showalter, JMU Class of 1979