By I. Ramamohan Rao
New Delhi, Nov. 13(ANI): Diwali this year has been unlike those in the past, as it slipped away without a call from my younger brother Narendra, who passed away six months ago in May this year.
He was soft as well as tough like the Bombay Dyeing cloth, the factory of which he was the Managing Director for over a decade .
He achieved in life, what I could not. I wanted to be an engineer, but could not get a seat in the colleges at home in the Madras Presidency, where seats were earmarked on caste basis. He moved to Delhi and became a Textile Engineer.
I moved to Delhi too in search of Government service in the late fifties. We used to meet each other during week- ends at Moti Bagh, where I lived or in Civil Lines where he stayed during his college days.
He moved to Indore and then to Bombay, settled down in Ghatkopar in a nondescript middle class neighbourhood. He was at home there, and refused to move to the bungalows he was offered to stay near Worli, as he did not want to change the way of life that his family was accustomed to.
When I was away on postings in the Central Government service, Narendra looked after my parents who were ill and arranged for special treatment in the best of hospitals in Mumbai. He gave me courage to discharge my duties, covering the wars in the Rann of Kutch or later in the Lahore sector in 1965.
The best period of my life was in the late sixties, when I was posted in Bombay. There was not a week that we were not together during the week end at my Colaba flat by the seaside. My children, wife and I along with my siblings and their respective families spent the time together . He was the binding thread, though he gave all the credit to me, the eldest in the family. He spoke the language of a child to children, and evoked affection. He was a good student, a respected teacher, and an honoured consultant.
Narendra never used the word ‘No’ to me during my entire life. Perhaps he never said no to anyone in his life, whether it was a textile mill worker or a junior executive. I often went to the Bombay Dyeing Mills where he was working. He would take me to all the floors and speak with respect to one and all in the mill. I could see the affectionate respect that his colleagues had for him.
Not a week passed during the last three decades without him ringing up me and my siblings on our birthdays, marriage anniversaries and on important festivals.
He used to ring me up to give his appreciative comments, whenever I held a press briefing as spokesman of the Government, felt happy when I introduced him to Prime Minister Narasimha Rao , who remarked how much he resembled me.
Later, when I joined the news agency ANI, he would read every article written by me and give his comments.
He was proud of my daughter Smita. He would follow closely all her television appearances. The best part was that he would make similar calls to all our siblings, their children and even distant relatives enquiring about their health, praising achievements of their children, providing support and encouragement.
There are very few people in this world who love as selflessly and completely as ‘Thammu’ which is how I used to address him. It means younger brother. He was more than a brother to me. Thammu was my sounding board, my rock.
This Deepavali, he must have tried to call me from his heavenly abode. Narendra , I miss you.
Mr. I Ramamohan Rao is a former Principal Information Officer of the Government of India. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org (ANI)