Longstanding readers of my diary will recall my mentioning my friend Jaikishan who, along with his family, was responsible for straightening out a very screwed up young man (me) back in the late 70s and early 80s.
Apart from just being fantastic friends, and a real family to me, I learnt many things from Kishan, his sister and his parents – from what really good coffee tastes like, to dealing with personal tragedy and failure. They were the “conduits” that eventually brought Shubha and me together,
But it was Kishan’s father, GKN Rajan, who taught his son and me one of the most important things in our lives:
He never spoke about it, he never preached about it, he never ranted about it.
He just taught us all by example. Uncle Rajan was one of the most principled people I have ever known.
People who didn’t know him very well would have thought of him as a stern, even stubborn man. But those of us who knew him, knew him to be someone who would never compromise on his principles, yet was a caring and thoughtful man. And the results showed in his relationships (which invariably lasted a lifetime), the way his customers loved and respected him, and the way even the smallest child in the family adored him, never scared of his stern appearance. The kids called him “Car Tatha” because he was always driving off somewhere with his faithful black Ambassador car.
To me, he was an anchor point – a strong, principled man, who opened his home to me when I needed to get my life back into shape, someone who called me his son (which is an easy thing to do) and never let me think of our relationship in any other way (which is an *extremely* difficult thing to do).
After Kishan passed away in an accident in 1994, I often thought about Uncle Rajan. He and Aunty spent a lot of time in the USA with their daughter, and we saw far less of them than we wanted. They eventually settled down in Mysore, which rekindled my affection for the place, and I tried to go there whenever possible.
Recently, in April, Shubha and I stayed with them for a day, and it was unbelievable how being with Uncle and Aunty turned back time, as we sat at the dining table having breakfast, where Uncle Rajan and I got into a deep discussion about digital cameras and assorted gadgets (he was as much a gadget freak as I am).
He was older, frailer and a little more hoarse, but he was the same Uncle Rajan who has played such an important part in my life over several decades. And I came away from the trip full of resolve, my “family batteries” fully recharged.
And with his advice ringing in my mind – “If you believe in something, then it is only right that you should persue it. Anything else is a compromise.”
That was the last time that I saw him.
Uncle Rajan passed away last night, after complications arising out of a surgery.
And for the second time in a year, I find myself staring into a void filled with pain.
Goodbye, Uncle Rajan.
Your son will miss you.