The flames would have consumed your mortal body by now … that amazing smile, the animated face, the lively eyes and that golden heart will be missed forever. Dear Raji, I miss you already and I cannot imagine how Mani must be feeling. I have both your numbers stored as “Raji Mani” and “Mani Raji” – inseparable, like the two of you were, like the two of you are.
I can still hear your wonderful voice telling me that the Rasam I made on the 2nd of this month for you was “awesome”.. the way you tasted the Pulikaichal mix that I made, that childlike glee on your face seems so real. And it is real, because you are still here, in Mani’s very breath, in Nisha’s smile, in Vidya’s heart and in Aaliyah’s song.
Life is strange indeed.. I wore the new salwar suit that you bought for my 28th birthday in 1997 when we didn’t even have money to buy a card and were staying with you in Mumbai and 21 years later this year, you would have been gone 10 days on my birthday. When Krishnan and I got married you and Mani were in Delhi and couldn’t attend our wedding, but my mother-in-law told me about you and then I met you at the Central Station platform. The only word that came to my mind then was – resplendent. You were so full of life !! Then you all moved to Chennai and we met several times before we both moved out of Chennai. Ofcourse our connection remained strong … with Mani in Hyderabad, then our spending time with you, Nisha and Vidya in Mumbai and then when we moved to Delhi. The next time we met, Nisha was married and Kishore was doing his M.Tech from IIT.
When Nisha worked with Hewitt, I told her that she looked like you and had Mani’s work ethic so for me it was like meeting both of you everyday. Then the 2002 visit to Malaysia and meeting Mani there. He sent the instant tea packets for you because you loved tea. Do you remember the small drawing you made for me of a Lakshmi Yantra when we came to your Secunderabad home? I still have it and it has brought us lots of luck and has helped us climb out of our bankruptcy. I know you prayed for our well being everyday during that phase.
Remember this picture ? You dancing with Krishnan ? I saw this photograph before I met you.
Then the Dubai phase happened, Aaliyah happened, my father passed away and we met at our Gurgaon home when Nisha dropped you off on the way to work. I read about OPOS first on your Facebook page and thought it was some Tamil word you were using that I didn’t know the meaning of. Then Nisha introduced me to OPOS.
We met again last year just before you went back to Dubai and you looked cool in your new spiky hairdo courtesy the Chemo. But your spirit was full on and you seemed hellbent on beating back the beast. Then Nisha told me that it had come back with a vengeance and when I spoke to her on Mar 1st … something told me that we must come and meet you. When I saw you on Mar 2nd, it was difficult not to cry, but I didn’t cry because you were being so brave.
The photograph below is how I’ll remember you – gorgeous, with the resplendent smile.
You are free of pain and the confines of the human body … truly the free spirit, watching over your daughters, Aal and your sons-in-law. And Mani, print the following picture and keep it with you because that’s where Raji truly is, just peeking over your shoulder and taking care of you every step of the way.
Farewell Raji … till we all meet again on another platform in another lifetime. Om Shanthi.