Sri V.S. Murthy - expired 8 June 2012, at 73 years.
It would not be incorrect to say that after Aji, he was the pillar uniting our family. Known for his energy, discipline, affection and service, he was liked by all around him and no function was complete without his presence. He always attracted everyone with his ability to keep people of any age group engaged in good conversation on a topic of their choice and liking. He would keep Damu busy with conversing in Madras-Tamil, Vasanthi with his comparative experience in dealing with different banks and my father-in-law with pension related topics, all with the same level of interest and enthusiasm. No wonder everyone liked him so much.
What I narrate could be viewed as my angle, but I think the main reason he was so popular (may be unpopular with some too!), was because he was honest, well-meaning, straight-forward and open-speaking. He might have had disagreements and difference of opinion, but I don’t think he ever disliked or hated any person. If you needed counsel, he was always by your side, guiding you the right way.
He was very calculative, which is understandable if you could take note of the fact that he had come up the hard way in life, born in a big family of eight siblings, and had to shoulder major responsibility right from the days he started earning. He took care of his sisters so well. Being a railway man with a transferable job, he worked at many places and made a mark wherever he was posted. Because of his transfers, we have had the privilege and oppourtunity of seeing places by visiting him during vacation. I can never forget my visit to Gadag when he took us to the famous heritage site at Hampi and to Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur. Nor could I forget my visit to Guntakal when he gave his scooter for me to learn riding.
He disliked over-spending on anything. He would allocate a budget and operate within that. He would plan ahead and execute on time, every time. He hated lethargy, and would not sit idle for a moment. He would always be doing something, and there would always be something for him to do!
He would keep us mesmerized with stories of his work experience – working day and night in remote inaccessible areas, helping install a statue in a township, taming a union bully, and many such stories. But the most interesting of them all was his own narration of how he kept his steam locomotive ready in prime condition during a top-level inspection. While others had chosen to lavishly decorate their engines and do all sorts of unnecessary things to attract (rather distract) the bosses’ attention, he had kept the steam loco perfectly cleaned, oiled, lubricated, filled up with coal and water, steel parts shining and other parts clean and tidy, ready with full-charge steam to haul a full length of 80 freight wagons. The moment the Board member who was doing the inspection boarded the engine, all Baoji needed to do was to tug the wire to hoot the whistle and start the engine, and explain in his own high-decibel high-enthu style the functioning of the shed and the statistics of its capabilities. The Board member, needless to say, was impressed beyond bounds and awarded the first prize to Baoji’s shed. A steam-loco replica honoring his service at the shed still rests in his house.
He was a man known for his deeds. After retirement and settling in Ambattur, he devoted time to religious activities. His leadership style was very evident when he was elected to head the managing committee of the Sri Raghavendra Swamy mutt. He regularly visited all relatives and kept in good contact with us all. He regularly participated in the Vishnu Sahasranama recitals. During the early stages of his retirement, when Aji was alive, he would visit Kakkalur Anjaneyaswamy temple every Saturday and would bring the prasadam to her, without fail. After her demise, the frequency of his visit to Kakkalur started to decline, but he was without fail making it to the Laksharchana prior to Hanumath Jayanthi. To compensate the declining visits to Kakkalur, he started visiting the Santhana Srinivasan temple every Saturday. I know how genuinely he prayed for the well-being of Preethi and for the safe delivery of Jeevthi. I was so happy that he was there at the hospital when they brought the child out to show her to the world.
We have never seen him unwell, not even suffering a head-ache or fever. For such an energetic and compassionate man to leave us all suddenly without any indication was certainly cruel fate, but everybody who knows him will have a consolation that he died the way he wanted to die – just like that in sleep, without giving any trouble to anyone even in death.
The void created by his departure cannot be filled. He will be missed very dearly by all who knew him and have been with him even for a short span of time. I don’t think there is any necessity for the usual prayer for a soul to rest in peace - for the kind of person he was, for the service he did to his family, his country, his relatives and friends and finally to the society, I am sure his soul will find the most comfortable seat in heaven and start thinking of how to improve that place.