I met this guy the first time many years ago on the Nilagiri Express from Coiambatore to Chennai. We boarded the locomotive from Tiruppur. We were both in the second class compartment. He was in his late twenties. Christy and Aravind (who was a baby and about two years) were with me. He had met Christy before at some official meetings and seemed to be fairly well aware of her and where she came from, so on and so forth. Aravind got quite friendly with him during the travel and was reluctant to come away to sleep. We got to begin casual chat and by the time we arrived at Chennai early morning the next day, we got to know one other quite well. I felt it vibed. An infamous person I'm at creating friendship or acquaintance!
He was a senior level merchandising manager in a multi crore garment manufacturing and export company. We did not have any contacts after, for quite a while. And at some point we got again in touch. I asked him for dinner at our home and he obliged. We went to his parent’s house in Chennai during one of our travel. His mother liked Christy much, and since she was adept in being liked and affable to any stranger, they jelled.. He hailed from a respectable family – an erudite, scholarly father- retired as the principal teacher and since researching in temple architecture of Kerala. Mother was a fiercely strong willed woman. Loving, caring and very matter of fact! She was insistent that the children send her a certain sum every month (I guess it was about Rs 5000) without fail, and did not care if they starved because of that. And she meticulously planned that money into bank accounts in the boys’ credit. She once told Christy, 'I have to force-out this money from the boys- else they will be penny less one day. For thrift and care for the future is not with the kids of this generation'. Some months he used to run out of money and would desperately come to me and ask me to send the amount to his mother, which I did quite a few times. He had a brother younger to him and he was sailing with the Merchant Navy.
This guy became a frequent visitor to our house and always came running to us when he faced any crisis and for comfort. He had exercised such freedom and enjoyed much bonhomie at our home that he would come come at night after work and ask Christy to cook him dosas, with the taste of dosa his Amma cooks. Aravind used to go around with him often in the car. Once Aravind who was then about four years,went with him to a distant town and it was much after that we joined them.
At his wedding, his parents wanted Christy to be in the forefront like she would if she were his very own sister. I remember Christy had conceived Radhika during that time and was a couple of months away from labour. We were at the wedding and treated by his parents like we were their own. This fellow repeatedly exclaimed that he was very lucky to have Christy there, that he does not miss a sister.
Years passed …… and he grew in stature, left his job, commenced fashion garment business with a client from Europe and rocketed through the roof, wealth wise. We were at the inaugural pooja of his business, which began out from a tiny little office space. The last time I met him was at his office which stood on a huge area and would rival a INFOSYs or an MS. He was quite tensed during the early days, before and after the commencement of his venture. He always called me for comfort and any form of pep. He wanted a name for the firm and I suggested he pick a name to identify with a beautiful bird. I lend him couple of my prized possessions “The Penguin encyclopedia of extinct birds”, and the “Time encyclopedia of Birds of the World”. Outrageously, but true to his subsequent nature he declined to acknowledge that he borrowed the books from me. They are lost forever! Penguin ceased publication of the former!
He was outlandishly superstitious. And the nadir of all that was when he put his pet a Bhutanese pug to sleep after an astrologer allegedly confided that if he keeps the canine at home it may bring bad tidings. Do not know what befell him, ensnared by the new mounting riches, he distanced? Not only from us, even from his parents. His mother wept once we were in Chennai to call on her. I sensed the hurt, the wound a mother bore. His father had passed away in the mean time. And she lived all alone. The sons were too concerned about their affairs and well being that they rarely went to her. Never their wives!
At a point in time he was a helpful person to me Vis a visa companion and also as a business acquaintance. But those relationships were abruptly severed. And the last was he declined to attend my calls.