Nostalgic Thoughts of Sunder



It is indeed strange how Providence brings people together. Sundar was an English literature student with French as his second langauge. I was doing Mathematics with Hindi as second language. In the normal course any opportunity for us to get to know each other was minimal. In stepped P.C.Ramakrishna, an English literature student with Hindi as second language. That link created a relationship that has lasted over 50 years.

The first thing about Sundar that I will always remember is his “courage of conviction”. A contemporary of his from the College of Engineering, Guindy has narrated the circumstances leading to his surrendering his Engineering seat. If you wind back to the early 1960s, you will realise the tremendous courage and determination required to resist parental pressure to give up a hard won seat in an Engineering College. He did that to pursue his passion in literature. In his career, he has demonstrated the strength and nerve to face adversity squarely. Twice in his career, once fairly early and the second towards the end of his career, he got shunted out to what is eloquently referred to as “punishment posting” in service parlance. It did not break his spirit. He took it in his stride. He did not deviate from the straight and narrow path that he had set for himself.

Another quality of Sundar that I admired is his “childlike simplicity.” Very ordinary things impressed him, overwhelmed him. He would not view courtesies extended to him, privileges extended to him as those earned by him by virtue of his position or his years of experience. He would be taken up by the wailing horn and signalling equipment on the escort jeep which accompanied him as an Election Observer. The size of the bouquet, the colours of the flowers were all things which he would remember and recount. His expressive face would beam as he recounted with pride, the thoughts most often outpacing the words ,the little things that made him so happy.

Sundar was also endowed with a great sense of pragmatism.Very early on he had discovered the genius, the talent, the spark in Raji. In a master stroke of being practical and pragmatic, he timed putting Raji’s career and interests above his own.What a great move that was to encourage Raji’s talents to blossom. He had no qualms, no reservations in playing second fiddle. I would dare to say that he saw the rationale in it and enjoyed it.  I can still hear his words ringing in my ears!

[Siddharth (Siddharth Kumar) was one of Sunder’s two ‘best friends’ from college, in a friendship that lasted over 50 years. Sunder made it a point to call or visit Siddharth and Lata on every visit to Chennai. He was up-to-date on news about their children, Satyajit and Tarunya, whom we have watched over since they were born. I, as well as Siddharth and Lata, are happy that the last visit he made before he went into hospital was to their house, where he was in fine fettle over dinner with his favourite people.]