Raju . . .
I remember when I first saw Raju. It was at a British Council programme. A professor had come from UK. And she spoke about Mansfield Park. That is why my classmates and I were there … We had that novel in our syllabus for the BA English literature. Fanny was the least favourite on my list of Austen’s heroines. During q&a time Raju spoke, and he temporarily convinced me that Fanny had her good points. I went up to him and introduced myself as a student of Stella Maris College. He was then studying in Loyola College. Soon thereafter I learnt that we were actually related, you may say distantly but definitely.
I don’t remember meeting him regularly after that and then I got married and marriage has a way of shifting the nucleus of your life.
Then we moved to a house which was just opposite where Raju’s uncle stayed. Now Raju ‘s uncle is also mine. So we would bump into each other. I don’t remember the details but I can recall the broad picture. He was a gentle person with a light sense of humour and a literary sensitivity which was far superior to and more nuanced than mine, and I admired him. I still remember when I first saw Raji and where she was sitting in the living room in Raju’s uncle’s place. Why it has stuck in my mind I don’t know. Perhaps because we would become friends decades later. So time went by as it does, we, Raju and me, meeting at weddings and stuff.
Then Kaushik and IP became reasons for us catching up. Years later but it seemed like we had always been in touch.
Then I heard he was not well. It hit me in my guts and I realised how fond I have always been of him. I told myself this time I will keep in regular touch . . . But life has a way of dealing different cards, we get spades instead of hearts which we want. And I did not get that chance.
So here I am with this message. I am sure he is smiling. . .
[Prabha Sridevan has been a friend of Sunder’s since their college days. Her daily texts to Kaushik while Sunder was in hospital meant a lot to him and prompted him to write back to her. The very last message he wrote, two days before he died, was addressed to her. We think he intended Kaushik and me to pick up their interrupted friendship, and so we have].