Sunder-A Man of Many Parts
— S. Balakrishnan (Ambi)
It is difficult to believe that Sunder left us for good 9 months ago. The fact that he was so full of life, zest, and energy unlike a normal 70 year old man makes it all the more difficult to accept his sudden and untimely death. The news that he was detected with cancer was most upsetting, but we were hopeful that he would pull through, given his will to fight the dreaded disease, the fact that his operation was successful, that there were so many praying for his recovery, including Raji’s friends and that he was about to be discharged from hospital. So Sunder’s sudden death, with absolutely no warning, has indeed been a devastating tragedy, especially for those closest to him, namely, Raji, Kaushik and Naira and also Sunder’s and Raji’s mothers whom Sunder took such wonderful care of when they holidayed in Bangalore almost every year. At these moments of grief, it helps each one of us to go down memory lane and recall the wonderful aspects of Sunder. I will attempt to do just that.
The first thing that struck me about Sunder when I first met him was that he was an absolute natural. The fact that appa was also a natural and light hearted made Sunder’s relationship with my father a very special one, one that was based on bonhomie. The fact that Sunder wept like a child on appa’s death indicated the depth of their relationship. It took Babu and me a little longer to establish a rapport with Sunder, but once we did, we knew Raji was in the safest of hands.
Sunder was a child at heart and was at his natural best in the company of young children. He was in his element when we visited Mani anna’s family soon after his marriage, entertaining Mani anna’s young daughters. Children also loved Sunder the way he loved them. There was a child-like uncomplicated quality about Sunder that was so appealing to the young and the old.
Another striking quality in Sunder was that he was an exceptionally organized thinker. His brain worked like a computer that never missed anything important. The detailed tax workings that Sunder has left behind, in his inimitable hand, is a tribute to his organized thinking. I have no doubts that Sunder produced master pieces when he was working for the GOI. Certainly his 6th pay commission report is an outstanding piece of work. Sunder might have reached the very top, given his brilliance but for the fact that he was repulsed by the thought of currying favours with his bosses. Kaushik has certainly been influenced by Sunder’s ability to think clearly and logically and the young chap is very much a chip of the old block.
Sunder’s integrity is stuff legends are made of. He never took favours from anybody while working in a service where taking favours was the order of the day. We are proud of both Appa and Sunder, men of absolute unimpeachable integrity.
Sunder was a guy any body would be proud of, because he was interested in many things, from mixing drinks to jewelry and gems. If some subject interested Sunder, you could be sure that he would master it before you could say “Sunder”.
Sunder was a wonderful host. He would make sure every guest felt at home and wanted.
From Rishi Valley to the corridors of the GOI, Sunder’s journey must have been an interesting and inspiring one. Can I suggest that a story be written based on Sunder’s life, so that the younger generation has an example before them to follow? This is the best tribute that one can pay Sunder.