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Tragic trip for parents

Chennai, April 17: Even thousands of miles away, G.V. Loganathan was a dutiful son. Now, his old father and mother are doing their duty as parents — they will be at the side of their dead son’s wife and two daughters in their hour of “tragedy and crisis”.

The slain professor’s younger brother Sengottuvelan said they were making arrangements for all immediate family members — about nine of them — to fly to America tomorrow.

“We don’t know if his (Loganathan’s) wife can arrange to send the body back home. So we decided to take the earliest flight to the US, as she shouldn’t be put to any difficulty,” added Selvi, the professor’s sister-in-law.

Loganathan’s family members aren’t sure if the last rites would take place in the US. The only thing they are sure of now is they are leaving for the country where the 51-year-old “rare gem” taught and died in the worst campus massacre in America.

“A dedicated teacher, my brother died on his job like a true karma yogi,” said Sengottuvelan, a chartered accountant, from their family home in Karatadipalayam, 3 km from Gobichettipalayam, the village in Tamil Nadu’s Erode district from where Loganathan’s quiet but distinguished journey began.

“We came to know about the shootings from television channels, but it was only around 4.30 this morning that his death was confirmed by his wife when she spoke to us on the telephone,” Selvi said. “He was such a nice person, a rare gem who would always share his knowledge with his students and others.”

He was also the type who never forgot his filial responsibilities. Loganathan would call up his parents — father G.K. Vasudevan and mother Kannammal — every week. The last time he spoke to his father, a retired revenue officer, was on Sunday, April 15. He had sounded worried, not for himself but for his parents’ health.

“We don’t know what to do. He was the guiding force for all of us,” sobbed another brother, Palanivel, an engineer by profession.

Loganathan’s career graph is striking despite the ups and downs of a typical Tamil middle-class family from the backward Gounder community.

After his MTech from IIT Kanpur, he went on a scholarship to the US for his PhD from Purdue University. From research, he plunged straight into teaching. He also published a number of papers.

Loganathan taught hydraulics, hydrology and water resources engineering and was part of a Virginia Tech team involved in designing a special curriculum that “emphasised a holistic approach to engineering solutions under a single theme of sustainability”. It was proof of how highly he was regarded as a teacher at the university.

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