Shri. K Ramakumaran (Oct 15, 1942– May 14,2020).
By Ajesh Ramakumaran
Imagine you are suddenly awakened by an incoming call in the middle of the night. You quickly wake up surprised and say a small prayer before you answer, hoping that it’s a reminder that may be you forgot to pay a bill online, or that it might be your mom wanting to check on you to see if everything is fine and wondering why you didn’t call her for the past two days.
The last time I answered such a call I would learn that my dad had to be rushed to the hospital because he slipped and fell. It was late at night on May 13th (May 14th in India) when I received that call, and by the time I was almost done hoping it was a reminder of something I missed, I was told that my dad had passed away due to a heart attack.
A sudden feeling of helplessness gushes in when you’re sitting thousands of miles away, desperate to take the first flight back home and be with your loved ones. My first instinct was to do just that only to find out that was not an option due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
I came to terms with that and spoke with my Mom over the phone, trying to console her for her loss of a companion who she had spent the last 47 years with. They had been with each other through all the ups and downs of life, enjoying all the happiness that trickled down their paths.
Suddenly she was alone, staring at a road she would have to travel by herself, without her life partner by her side. The only reprieve I could offer her was that he did not suffer and passed away without being subject to any critical illness.
Unwillingly she would have to come to terms with that, the only solace she could get from her son sitting on the other side of the world. What she needed most was a hug that he was unable to offer then. While I reflect on the memories of my dad, I always remember him as someone who would inspire me to do well in life.
He always told me that there was no substitute for hard-work and that that was the only thing that eventually paid off. I remember the days when he would wake up with me to make that hot cup of tea so that I could stay awake to study for my 12th board exams, like it was he who was going to take the exams and didn’t want his efforts to fall short. I remember the day when he took a day off from work to talk and understand truly that my decision to not pursue the CA foundation course was not something I had taken without considering the merits. In the end, all he asked of me was to do well in whatever path I choose.
He was there when I turned to say goodbye on my first overseas flight with a sense of pride one would only see in a father’s eyes. I always carried that memory whenever I left India of looking over my shoulder and finding my parents waving.
While I will still not stop looking over, I will have to come to terms with the fact that he has left to a place far away to be with his parents. You will always remain my super hero ‘Dad’ and I’ll need to slowly stop looking over and start looking upward and find you amongst the stars guiding me through what lies ahead of me and giving me and my sister the strength and courage to comfort and look after your life partner (mom) that you lovingly entrusted with us.
I already miss you Achan…
(Shri K. Ramakumaran, a retired officer from India’s Armament Research & Development Establishment in Pune, died of heart attack on May 14, 2020. He is survived by his wife, Chandrika, son Ajesh, daughter Anjali, son-in-law Salil Sankaran and daughter-in-law Jyoti.)