Friendships are made on earth...
The year was 1989. I was covering the Lok Sabha proceedings. My colleague Rama Rao came to me and straight away said, Hi Segon, you are going to Kathmandu on posting, give me your house keys. Without any preliminaries, he said, my friend, Ramabrahmam has no place to stay in Delhi. He will pay Rs 10000 rupees a month for maintenance of the house. He just cannot afford market rent. He has three children and his wife is not working.
I gave him a smile and said ok, you would have keys tomorrow. Believe me, it never came to my mind that I should give my house on market rent. Any one would take it. It is worth noting that I did not know Rama Brahmam at all. No contract was signed .
This shows that my family was destined to come in contact with this family. The bond continues even today.
I left for Kathmandu along with my wife, Uma and son Ankur. My daughter stayed behind in Lady Irwin College hostel to peruse her honor's degree in Home Science. My son got admission in Kendriya Vidyalaya Kathmandu in class sixth. My wife kept shuttling between Delhi and Kathmandu as she was teaching in a Delhi Administration school. I was posted in Kathmandu as All India Radio correspondent.
My house in Delhi was a three bedroom flat located in Janak Puri. We retained one room and gave rest of the house to Rama Brahmam family. We left our room open so that they could use it in our absence. I met the family for the first time when I came to Delhi for some personnel work. My flight got delayed and I reached Delhi late at night. I rang the belll of my house and Mrs. Rama Brahmam opened the door.
I apologized for coming in the middle of night. One child was sleeping on the bed in our room. Mrs. Brahmam tried to wake him up. I intervened and said let him sleep. It was a double bed and could easily accommodate two. She was kind enough to ask me if I needed anything. Next morning, I met other members of the family.
Shri Hari was the eldest son, Amarnath youngest and Ramani daughter of the house. Rama Brahmam was tall, lean and lanky fellow. A very gentle soul. I liked the family instantly. The family was from Hyderabad and they were highly religious simple folks. They treated me as a family member.
Shri Hari was chatterbox of the family. He had completed his schooling and was planning his future. He knew his father could not afford his college education. Shri Hari had a techno savvy brain . He was always assembling small gadgets for use at home. He got a job with a computer institute where had access to latest commuters. This boy was passionate about computers. Along with his job, he kept on doing various online certification computer courses. As they say, luck favours the brave, Shri Hari landed a job with IBM computers in USA.
He is now married and very well established in America. In 1998, I went to New York as All India Radio correspondent to cover address of former prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Un general assembly. As usual with Vajpayee, he addressed the general assembly in Hindi.
The address was received with thumping of desks and clapping. Event which attracted more attention was luncheon meeting between Vajpayee and former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Headlines were: “Prime Minister Vajpayee hits it off with his Pakistani counterpart in New York”.
At the same meeting, one of Pakistan Minister remarked, I am from Lucknow sir, if I had to vote there, I would have voted for you. Another joke doing rounds in New York was that a proposal came up during the meeting to build a highway between two countries. One of the of aides of Nawaz Sharif said, you know our Prime Minister and Begum Sahiba are fond of fast driving.
They drive up to 250 miles per hour on Lahore highway. One of Indian aides interjected, are there no traffic rules in Lahore. Pakistani aide was quick to reply, we ask traffic police to be little lenient with the Prime Minister.
Shri Hari came to my hotel and took me on a sightseeing tour of the city covering Statue of Liberty and World Trade Centre. We also went to his house outside New York by train. I purchased a trolley to carry my suitcase and bags. Shri Hari insisted on paying for the trolley. He said uncle, buy something for aunty with this money. How sweet of Shri Hari. When I was coming to New York, Shri Hari’s mother send some household utensils for him. That is how mothers are. Always worried about their children.
On last day of my visit to New York, me and Shri Hari got stuck in a huge traffic jam. While coming back to my hotel, I was getting late for my flight back home. I got down from taxi and made enquiries. Locals told me that these jams some times last for hours. They advised me to that my hotel was about two kilometers from the place of jam. I would make it much faster if I left the taxi and walked up to my hotel. I said goodbye to Shri Hari and made it to my hotel on foot in 15 minutes. Thank god, I was just in time for my flight.
Ramani, daughter of the house , developed a very strong bond with Uma, my wife, just like mother and daughter. The bond continues even today. Ramani kept accounts of our household in Delhi. Both went out together for shopping. Uma shared food with the family and all of them enjoyed best of North Indian and South Indian food. Ramani got married to a railway engineer , Venu, as we call him with love After some time, Ramani and Venu moved to USA where Venu is teaching in a university. They were staying at Houston in Texas where Uma visited them twice. Once I also accompanied her. At that time, we were visiting our son in America and he was gracious enough to manage our tickets to Houston, both the times.
Ramani and Venu were perfect hosts. They treated us like their parents. They took us on a visit to NASA to see for ourselves scientific wonders . We also had a look at the buggy which landed at moon. Most amazing was looking at moon rocks, brought from moon which were greyish in colour. We were always under the illusion that moon is beautiful.
For ages, lovers compared face of beloved with moon to say how beautiful she is. Even in Karva Chauth, fast is broken by looking at moon through a perforated utensil and offering water. Moon has always been considered an angel. Even now when we know that moon is a rocky area, this myth has not been broken. Both worship of moon on Karva Chauth and comparison of beloved with beauty of moon continues.
We also visited Dallas where John F Kennedy, former U S president was assassinated. We also went up the building and upto the window from where Oswal shot ex-president. We also attended a convocation in Dallas where nephew of Venu received his engineering degree. We spent the night at the palatial house of Venu’s friend.
Enroute, we saw some oil wells. We also went to some Indian temples. We also visited George Bush Presidential library and museum. We had the pleasure of sitting behind the President’s desk in the museum. Ramani, completed her education in America with few certification courses in accountancy. She once told me, uncle, I want a job with my own chamber where I sit in my black executive suit. Her dream has been fulfilled. Hats off to her determination and hard work. Whenever Venu and Ramani come to Delhi, they make it a point to visit us.
Youngest member of the family, Amarnath is as tall as his father.
Mr Rama Brahmam retired from AIR and settled in Delhi in a flat purchased by Shri Hari. This boy looked after his parents very well. He always made sure to look after their needs . Being a highly religious couple, Bramham's visited several holy places. They now wished to go on Mansarover Yatra which Shri Hari fulfilled.
He came all the way from America, made all arrangements and took them for Yatra, their life long dream fulfilled. Rama Brahmam did not last long and breathed his last in Janakpuri flat of his son. Mrs. Rama Brahmam was now alone. Like a responsible son, Shri Hari showed his mother as his dependent and got her American citizenship. She now lives with her son.
Their own home in Hyderabad is still there. Whenever Mrs. Rama Brahmam desires, she can come here for a change.
Well, that is story of my friend, Rama Brahmam . We met by chance and our bond of friendship lasted throughout life.