FLASHES OF MY LIFE – 9
My Good Friend R. Srinivasan (1926 -2015)
Srinivasan (RS, for short) and I became friends in 1945, when he and I sat in the same class – he in his first year of MA Maths and myself in the 2nd year of my BA Hons at St Joseph’s Trichy. The previous year I had already a close friend and classmate by name S.R. Venkatraman (SRV, for short). So from 1945 we three became so close to each other that we were always seen to be together, whether in the classroom – where we sat next to each other – or in the lunchtime at Peninsular hotel or in the evenings either at Venkatraman’s room in Clives Hostel or in Venkata Lodge at our evening snacks. This went on for the next two years. All our other friends were very envious of our friendship. Among the three of us Srinivasan was the elder statesman and so for our personal problems we used to ask him for advice and we most often got the right advice. Many times we had visited Srinivasan’s family at Woriyur. We were so close that we used to share intimate informations about ourselves. Srinivasan was just married before I knew him, but I was married in 1946 when they along with several other friends of mine were present at my marriage function in Mahadanapuram between Kulittalai and Karur. My wife Kamala and Srinivasan’s wife Yajnambal became also very close to each other that they never failed to share their personal information with each other.
And then we parted after we passed our examinations in June 47. Srinivasan joined the Teacher’s college in Saidapet to study for his B.Ed. and I joined Annamalai University in Chidambaram as a staff member. For several years we kept a letter correspondence. Whenever I visited Trichy I used to go to Woriyur to meet his family irrespective of whether Srinivasan was or was not there. My wife and I attended the Shantimuhurtham of RS. and he attended my Shantimuhurtham also. SRV was in Surandai but later he settled in Palace Orchards, Bangalore. RS. visited that place once and I also visited that place once. But after the fifties we lost contact with SRV. But R.S. and myself never lost contact with each other. In my family all my close relatives know R.S. and in the same way all his close relatives, -- his Athai, the elder sister of RS, Tripuram, Anna, Manni, her mother, and certainly the father for whom I was almost a pet. I was also very close to Anna. He used to talk to me about Saundaryalahari shlokas and their meanings every time I met him; he had great affection for me, more so because even after visiting U.S and serving there for three years, according to him I was still in practical touch with our traditional literature and values.
Whenever RS and I met we had to cover the details what each of us did day by day during the gap period when we did not meet. This usually turns out to be long long conversations, sometimes running to more than two hours. Well, there are several several anecdotes that I can relate but that would take too much time. Once in the fifties he and his teacher’s college friends went to Tirukkazhukundram for a two day outing and RS invited me and I joined them. That was a memorable get-together for me and RS because he almost deserted his other friends and was always closeted with me continuing our usual updating of each other’s activities. Later RS joined the Hindu High School, Triplicane and rose to become the Principal of that school and retired as such. In his teaching profession he was known to be one of the best teachers that students could ever be aware of. His students are spread all over the world.
Just one or two major events in our relationship. Srinivasan was always very helpful to all his friends and even casual acquaintances. His compassionate affection to all his friends, relatives and to all those who worked under him is well-known to any one who came into contact with him even once. So it is no surprise that in 1984 around September October, when I wrote to him from Pilani that I had what they call flashes in my eye, I was on medical leave, I had tried doctors in Pilani and Delhi but I am not satisfied and the doctors are saying if I go to Madras and get myself checked by Dr. Badrinath, the famous retina surgeon, that would help. And they also said that to get an appointment with Dr. Badrinath, it usually needs several days’ notice, he immediately phoned back: I have already a rain-check with Dr. Badrinath, I shall use it now and he immediately got my appointment for the very next day. I flew from Delhi to Madras and got myself checked and treated by Dr. Badrinath. From that time onwards till now Dr. Badrinath has also been a very good family friend for me.
Anoher instance. It was April 22, 1998. My grand-daughter Yamini who had just finished graduation and was going to go a medical school, in the U.S. took a year off to visit several countries of the world. She came to Madras, watched a brain surgery by Dr. Ramamurti (also my good friend in Madras), and then I took her to Bangalore for a visit. We engaged an autorickshaw to go to the hotel which we had already contacted, but it was already late evening and that evening there was such a heavy rain and wind that our auto driver could not go beyond a certain stage because of heavy floods on the road. I did not know the topography of Bangalore well enough but I had the address of RS in my diary. So I told Yamini my friendship with him, and I decided to gatecrash at his house and stay with him for the night. It was in Jayanagar. But we could find our way only with great difficulty. That night Anna, Ranga, Meena and Yajnambal hosted us for the night. We had great trepidations about how this traditional family would respond to young Yamini’s total ignorance about Indian habits, customs and Acharas. Our rupee currency which I had kept in my belt purse were all drenched because of the rain. My wife had an idea to warm them up by putting them on a warmed up dosa-pan. That was a memorable night.
Unfortunately, RS left us all and breathed his last on the night of 4th October 2015, after a brief illness. He will always be in my deepest memory.