A LETTER FROM POOVAN MURUGESAN, San Diego, CA
KOLA SANTOSH RAJKUMAR 1945-2016
It was in 1957 that I met Raj at the American College High School. We were both in 9th grade, in Mr. Johnson’s class. Raj in those days wore baggy pants, a half-sleeve shirt with a big pocket that carried several pens and pencils and a pen-length screw driver. Raj was a gifted handyman even in those days. Another unique thing about Raj was that he drove a motorcycle to school. Motorized two-wheelers were rare back then and then a 14-year-old driving a motorcycle was rarer. Our paths diverged briefly, but we became classmates once again in PUC at the American College. After B.Sc. at different institutions, we again found ourselves as classmates in M.Sc. physics. Our friendship had enough time to blossom. We became good friends. Generous to a fault, he offered an unconditional friendship. I spent a lot of time during weekends at his family home on North Masi Street. I got to know the family.
Raj had a workshop in his house even in his student days, where he repaired electronic instruments, constructed radios and did other repairs. He enjoyed every minute of it.
Till the end, he exhibited an enormous stamina and a willingness for hard work. At his age, he carried a full load of work at Aravind Hospital and carried on an extensive personal and official international travel. During my last visit to India, I casually mentioned to him that it would be nice if we got together with our M.Sc. classmates. He somehow dug up the phone numbers of some of them and arranged a get-together. Some of us got to see each other after a gap of nearly 50 years!
He was a quintessential family man. He was proud of his son (at Google) and daughter ( a doctor in London), but without exhibiting negative ego. He remained simple in his habits and loyal to his friends. Whenever I visited India, I could count on seeing Raj in his baggy pants, a half-sleeve shirt and on a motor cycle. His sudden death has been a rude shock to me. I have lost my best friend.