From Delhi, a small prayer for a man from Kochi

CHETAN KRISHNASWAMY writes: The editor of The Week T.R. Gopalakrishnan, a warm friend and a wonderful human being finds himself, at Bangalore’s Narayana Hrudayalaya, set for a by-pass surgery on Monday.

As journalists who work with him will tell you, TRG has an easy working-style and is a fountainhead of ideas. Bereft of intellectual pretensions yet fresh in his thinking, he has worked out of Kochi for over two decades now.

His column “The Last Word” that used to appear in the magazine was a mild but serious exposition on the issues of the day.

Sample this: “I don’t really remember what I did with the first five years of my life. The one thing I know I did not do was go to preschool. But all my nephews and nieces and my friends’ kids had to go to one. And then to another school, where with each passing year, the size and weight of their schoolbags kept increasing. Which is why I admire any school where the students do not have to carry big bags filled with items of doubtful quality and use.”

In its tenor, the column at times was in stark contrast to the overall profile of the magazine.

As a correspondent based out of Bangalore I reported to him for over three-and-a-half years, during which time we shared a productive and pleasant working relationship.

He never overwhelmed me with his views or tried to position himself as a mentor. TRG had the knack of giving you your space and allowing you to navigate through the pitfalls and pinnacles. If he liked a story-pitch, he would go to any lengths to support and fund the idea allowing you to travel. Conservatism was simply not the style of this IIT-drop out.

During the 1999 parliamentary elections, we traveled together to Bellary to get a ring-side view of the Sonia-Sushma battle. En route to Bellary, he would abruptly bring the car to a halt and query people about their electoral proclivities, savoring the local flavour. Evenings would be dedicated to stimulating rum & coke discussions with the camping journalists. I always noticed that his intake would be controlled and at the minimal.

TRG and wife Geeta are a couple who draw strength from each other. They have always been gracious to take me out for dinner every time I pop into Kochi. Geeta, with her roots in Mysore, has a penchant for lively, non-stop conversation. The couple’s wide travels cross the globe gives her an array of subjects to choose and hold forth upon. Undoubtedly, she is the perfect foil to TRG.

When I spoke to them briefly on Saturday morning, TRG appeared strong, but couldn’t hide the anxiety in his voice.

I hope that the flowers that I have sent stirs up smiles: The couple deserves to remain that way—forever.