Rajinikanth Veeraraghavan:(June 28 1974- March 6 2020)
Circa' Nov 2015: Three Quarter Chinese restaurant , Church Street Bangalore
This is my good friend Rajinikanth (also known as Superstar) from school who went to be with Almighty today (March 6, 8:10 AM IST). Our school friends and I are still coping with this tragic news and we are recollecting all the good memories we have had with him. I have known him from VI grade and he was one of the math whiz who did very well in academics in school. He was in the same section from VI -IX grade. I took language classes and he was very thorough and complete in his approach towards acads and was jovial too. He lived in a place called Velachery which is quite far from where I used to live and thus I was not in regular touch with him. After high school, I found out from my other friends that he got admission to one of the premier institutes named BITS Pilani.
All of us went our merry way to do our undergrad and lof us decided to come to US to pursue Grad school. While we were here, we tried reconnecting back with our school folks and tried to get back in touch with most of our friends. Slowly but surely we finished our grad school and got married and some of them started family as well. We got back in touch around 2005 and started writing back and forth via email. (Googlegroups). He was very quick to respond and started sharing the funny incidents in school and always took time to correspond via email. With most of my school folks, there was always a sinusoidal pattern where all of a sudden, all the team members felt the need to correspond sharing their nostalgic moments or about the birth of their son/daughter and suddenly it will soon ebb. In the year 2014, suddenly with the advent of WhatsApp groups, bunch of school folks started reconnecting and ended up finding almost of our school friends and it was like frenzy catching up with the school folks all over again. Thanks to the initiative of my classmates Maya , Ram Pai and other networkers we all got back in touch. After 1991, I got a chance to speak with Rajini only in 2014. I vividly remember running downstairs to call him during my lunch break and was so excited to hear his voice and we were so happy to catch up on lot of stuff. Needless to say that the lunch break was long. After that we were in regular touch and I am thankful that I got to meet lot of my school folks in 2015. Thanks to my school friend Anu's initiative, I was able to meet Rajini in person and had dinner together. It was wonderful to meet and that was the last time I met in person. That was the time I captured the picture posted above. We did talk over the phone regularly and Rajini went through lot of challenges at work and I tried my best to help him out with the best of my ability and was in regular touch till Oct /Nov 2019.
Yesterday, all of a sudden, I received a message from a great friend of mine, GB that Rajini has been battling a health issue and is not looking good.I was totally shocked to hear that as I wasn't aware of the same and my friends started sharing about the health challenges that he had been facing last few months. I was at first incredibly confused. “How could this happen?” I wondered. Not comprehending in that moment that life does eventually lead to inevitable death. Even our highly intelligent, self-aware species can’t grasp the idea of a guaranteed future demise. I just couldn’t process it, until I finally did. Then the shock came. I stared at my computer in complete silence as my brain began to rewind ancient memories through my eyes and into my bones at a rapid fast-forward speed. Death is always an unexpected earthquake, regardless of whom it happens to or what your relationship was. The sudden impact of receiving this news made me aware that I had absolutely no idea he was suffering. Our group of school friends still prayed hoping a miracle can happen which will make him live longer. Few of my friends who live in Madras decided to meet him in the hospital and today morning as they reached the hospital found out that he just departed. As soon as I saw the message from Mana (Anand) from the hospital, I started to sob uncontrollably quietly. I texted a couple of high school pals who I remained tight with and asked them if they knew. They did. They expressed their shock and anguish as well. Like me, they seemed to be in regret that their grief was so consuming, considering they also were not aware of his health issue. I guess he has gone from being a super star to a shining star. This poem written by the unassuming anon. sums it all.
"The angels looked down from heaven one night.
They searched for miles afar,
And deep within the distance
They could see a shining star.
They knew that very instant
That the star was theirs to gain,
So they took you up to heaven,
Forever to remain.
Look down on us from heaven.
Keep us free from hurt and pain.
You'll always be within my heart
Until we meet again."
P.S; I have added a GoFundMe site supporting Rajini's family kids. Whatever you could help would help his family/kids. Thanks in advance!