I was close to Sriram from a very early age. I have vivid memories of going with him to visit my grandparents in Bangalore and enjoying myself greatly there - he would only have been around ten years old then. When I was in middle and high school, I used to spend every other evening in Radhakrishna Nagar. I remember long, keenly contested games of cricket, involving Sriram, a boy from the neighbourhood called Ramu, and me, played in the street and the vacant house next door.
I shared a passion for cricket with Sriram ( I am sure he would have been greatly upset by the match-fixing scandal.) I remember that it was with him that I watched the final stages of the infamous Sharjah match in which Miandad hit Chetan Sharma for six off the last ball to snatch victory for Pakistan. And discussions on cricket were an important part of our e-mail correspondence.
When I was in college and Sriram was studying for his CA, we rarely met. But during my last year in college, he often used to visit our home with Deepu. I especially remember a long talk we had in Adyar only a couple of months before I left for the U.S. We discussed each others's plans and prospects. I am particularly struck, in retrospect, by his lack of egotism - he took a genuine interest in everything I said. And we all know about his amiability and guilelessness. He was one of the nicest persons I have ever met, it is no wonder that he had so many friends.
I did not see much of Deepu early on, partly because of the difference in age and partly because we lived so far apart. During my years in college, Deepu started dropping in regularly at our house, usually with Sriram, Ramesh or Shobha. We used to anticipate his visits eagerly, because there was so much life in him, such vigour. He had the knack of putting one immediately at one's ease with his banter and good humour. I particularly remember one occasion, when two cousins of mine, on my mother's side,were visiting us from Canada. The younger one was a girl, about eight years old, with a really heavy accent. Deepu had never met her before, but he managed to strike up a conversation, and to charm her.
Another memorable quality of Deepu, that we were all familiar with, was his generosity. If you think about it, this was a natural extension of his warm, open-hearted personality. The first time he returned from Saudi Arabia, we were inundated with gifts from him. Our protests were just shrugged off. This was typical of him - he would always act as if his generosity were the most natural thing in the world, and would be embarrassed by any reference to it. Also, his generosity was not limited to the material realm. He was generous with his time, his attention, his friendship; in fact, with everything he had in his power to bestow.
Of course, some of you,Ramesh, Prasad and Mukund for example, knew Deepu and Sriram better than I did. We must, each of us, conserve our memories in our individual ways. When I was in Kodambakkam, I saw the scrapbook that Athai, Athimber and Shobha have made, of photos from various stages of Deepu's life. In Radhakrishna Nagar, I saw the album of photographs from the time when Deepu and Sriram were in Saudi Arabia, sharing many moments of happiness and friendship. For their immediate families, the loss is irredeemable. But the rest of us also have wounds,in our hearts and memories,that will never heal.
Our memories are precious, as I said before, but ultimately, it is not enough to nurse our private griefs. The ideal means of paying tribute would be to have a positive outlook, heed our consciences, help and care for each other; in short, to live our lives in the spirit of Deepu and Sriram.