Dr. Raajaakrishnan, Friend and a Great Source of Inspiration

Dr. Raajaakrishnan

My association with the Kollam (Kerala)-based Kerala Sabdam Group, publishers of such iconic titles as Kumkumam, Keralasabdam, Mahilarathnam and Nana, began at a chance encounter with its head, Dr. B A Raajaakrishnan in September 1982. We had just returned from Libya, bag and baggage after a seven-year stint in that then-prosperous and peaceful country. I was confusion and apprehension personified; From here to where life should be taken?

I still vividly remember the forenoon of that September day, when a call came from ‘Moscow’ Gopalakrishnan who had also returned to India and settled down in the house opposite, with the message: A very distinguished person would like to meet you. Can you come over now?

There was a young, dynamic, all-smiles person whom ‘Moscow’ introduced as Dr. B A Raajaakrishnan, from Kollam, here to meet the ‘Moscow’ family who had hosted them in the Soviet capital when, Raajaakrishnan and spouse R Vimalakumari visited there.

The doctor extended a warm handshake, and as if sensing my gloomy mood, said: worry not. I will open the pages of all our periodicals for you to write freely, and regularly. Narrate and share with our readers your travel experiences and all the trials and tribulations you have come through in life. We will publish them all. I have read some of your works. Begin today!

I was elated. It was like a sinking soul, frantically looking for a flotsam, finding a luxury liner rescuing him from the raging sea. Over the ensuing 35 years, countless articles and feature series were written for the four publications. Readers approved of them and Raajaakrishnan was pleased. When my TV critique column in Nana won the Kerala State TV Awards in 1991 and ‘93, he was the first to call me with hearty congrats. My articles continuously appeared in Kumkumam till last month, and Nana till last week.

When cramped fingers failed to hold the pen and brain declined to merge alphabets into words and sentences, and I decided to close my writing career of 60 years, Raajaakrishnan was breathing his last. Was it a mere coincidence that exactly during the same week I gave up writing, the good doctor gave up his life?

As I resolved and proceeded to establish this magazine, many were the detractors and nay-sayers, who gave a maximum of six months to fold up. Raajaakrishnan was among the supportive few. He said, go ahead, have a ball, you have nothing to lose. When after 17 years of successful running of Destnation Kerala, the baton was passed on to the next generation, he told me: No point in working hard, creating wealth and stashing it all away in FD accounts. Let’s decide to spend and enjoy a bit. Unfortunately, we both couldn’t make it. The dreadful disease that claimed his life, is now threatening to take mine too!

Reminds me of William Shakespeare’s obituary verse forming part of Mark Antony’s final speech in Julius Caesar. He wrote: His life was gentle and the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say this was a man……

Farewell Raajaakrishnan…I will miss you.