Ratna Girish Kumar. I call him ‘Kumar Mavvayya’. Probably the days he responds to this call are gone. He is suffering from Brain Haemorrhage and has been told that his days are numbered – around a week to ten days at best. He has depression too. He is prone to throwing tantrums and behaving weirdly when the bout seizes him. He is an alcoholic too; drinking a lot more than he actually should. There have been days, in abundance, when depression and alcohol mixed. On those kind of days, more often than not, he met with accidents.
Probably because of depression or a feeling that he wasn’t loved by others, he, from time to time, used go away from the house and work, when he was working for APSRTC, for extended periods. During that time, when prodded he used to say that he slept in bus stands or footpaths. Invariably, when he came back to the house, he was bearded, unkempt and, in some eyes, looked like a vagrant. Fearing societal pressure to be perfect, my grandparents kept my uncle’s depression, away from many eyes. The time he stayed at home, he used to be generally restless. A feeling of not being cared for and the love for alcohol meant that another bout of depression was never far away. A bout of depression generally meant going away from the house.
Around the festival of Diwali in 2000 I was excited. I had ceased to celebrate Diwali by bursting crackers. I was excited because one of my favourite stars was set to appear on KBC. Just before the show could start, we had a phone call from my grandparents telling us that ‘Kumar Mavayya’ met with an accident in a place 70 Kms from where we stayed. So, my grandfather and me rushed to that down and got him back in an ambulance. That accident was the first of many accidents he had. He broke his leg badly; so badly that he had to stay in the hospital for a long time. During the time, my duty was to go to the hospital daily with a flask of coffee and stay there till my grandmother came with lunch. He stayed in a general ward and quickly became friends with patients in that ward and the nurses. He also spent a lot of time talking to me about movies and Shahrukh Khan, his favourite actor. I was taking an year out from my engineering course at that point of time as I didn’t pass my subjects in the course. Never once did he broach that topic with me. He never made me feel uncomfortable. The only thing he asked me was if I smoke or drank. Upon being told that I did neither, he said he would wait till I turned 25 to be sure that I did neither. He called me on my 25th birthday to enquire the same.
Now when I look back at it, that was probably the beginning of 15 years of torment for him. A torment which none of us understood or were a part of. We used to question him, but he never answered. Maybe we should have persisted. Because of depression, he had a temper to be scared of. This, with alcohol alienated him from a lot of his relatives. He was not always like this. He had seen better days and was a brilliant human being. In my eyes, he still is a brilliant human being and will remain so till he breathes his last.
My parents had a love marriage. They were supported by Kumar mavvayya. He used to give my mom, his sister, a royal sum as pocket money. He loved her a lot. So, when she was pregnant and wanted to satiate her taste buds, he was the one that responded by getting her whatever she wanted regardless of the weather conditions. There wasn’t a single instance where he said no to her. My mother tells me loving a person wasn’t alien to him. They had a brother who was intellectually challenged. So Kumar Mavvayya was the person who attended to each of his needs. Their brother passed away when he turned 19. That probably upset my mavvayya a lot.
He had a rocky relationship, at best, with his parents, my maternal grandparents. Completing his Bachelors, he joined APSTRC in a lower management post. Stung by my grandparents attitude towards him, he started spending a lot of time outside the house. The work he did consumed him. He is lanky in appearance and not given to much socialising within the family circles.
Whenever we were in Hyderabad, I remember waiting for him till late into the night, because I was enamoured with his memory and knowledge of Hyderabad. He had a brilliant ability to recall dates and also told you the number of days a movie ran in Hyderabad. We saw a few movies together. He bought me my first analog watch, a HMT Pace watch, which still works.
He was a man devoid of sarcasm and cheap gossip. I never saw him discussing about a person who wasn’t around. He did his work and had a charming smile. It is perhaps no wonder that I idolise a similar person at work.
His rocky relationship with his parents did affect him a lot. He is unmarried. Post 2000, he always said that he was proud of me because of my relationship with my parents. He is one among very few people who trusted me a lot.
Once he calls time on his life, I will remember him as a good human being. In the days to come, I will make sure that others will also remember him in a similar manner. He is not given to plotting and shrewdness as a way of life. He deserves to be remembered for the good he has done to people from time to time.