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The Touch of Friendship

Friday May 6 2005 08:44 IST

By Karmayogi

Meeting Pranab Mukherjee after ten years, an American introduced himself. To his surprise, Pranab remembered him and even the topics discussed at their first meeting, though it was the only time he had met that American. Politicians enjoy a tenacious memory. Perhaps it is necessary for them.

Well, if an important man is remembered, it is understandable. It is really surprising when insignificant people find themselves remembered by men of consequence. In most cases, the power is that of the memory.

Beyond that formidable quality that is a faculty of the Mind lies the true value of Friendship. Spirit can always give a man that sweetness. Psychic imparts that felicity that is spiritual without fail. North of Madras men embrace each other in friendship. Such physical demonstrations of affection are not in vogue in the Tamil culture.

A Tamil writer shot into fame after a long period of gestation in the fifties. He called on Kamaraj who was then the Chief Minister of Madras. Knowing that the writer hailed from Cuddalore, Kamaraj asked him if he knew one Purushothaman.

He was the writers uncle. Kamaraj went on to ask about a young short, fair, fine man with Purushothaman. He was Purushothamans nephew. In 1942, Purushothaman and his nephew had been Kamarajs jailmates. Purushothaman was from a leftist political party. The leftist leader, if anything, was inconsequential, even in his party.

News reached the uncle of the writer and he was delighted. Kamaraj was known to remember people from all places and was also known to make affectionate enquiries whenever he met someone from the place. Visiting a Taluq town, he once surprised the local Congress leader by narrating a ten-year-old incident in his house when his young crawling son had stolen the egg from the leaders leaf.

Purushothaman was an idealist. He gave up his government job in response to Gandhijis call. His party swore by atheism. Before he joined his political party as a full time worker, there was some serious spiritual quest in him. Maybe he would deny it.

He had the Darsan of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother in 35, 36 and 37 along with a few friends. He visited J. Krishnamurthy and made pranams to him. Lifting up the young man from his prostrate position on the ground, J. Krishnamurthy hugged him and said, Perhaps you think I am a great man and that is why you prostrate before me. All of us are great. In spite of the fact that there was no known source of income, Purushothaman was always cheerful, bright looking and optimistic.

He met Kamaraj in 1966 at Cuddalore when Kamaraj warmly greeted him, saying, I received your telegram congratulating me on Indiras election. How is it we do not meet. Hereafter we must meet. The recognition of friendship that was loyalty from such high quarters was really rewarding.

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