One memory that remains vivid in my mind is of my dad, a great man who was never seen without a newspaper, magazine, or book in his hand. He had a relentless passion for reading and learning, whether he was in his easy chair, at the dining table, or in bed. Education played a crucial role in his life, providing him with a strong foundation and the determination to break out of the traditional mould in Cumbum.
His exceptional academic credentials and unwavering drive led him to be selected as one of the first batch of young men sponsored by the Government of India to study abroad and return to contribute to the new independent India. He pursued his studies in the USA with a specific goal in mind – to be part of the major government project involving lignite in South India. Consequently, our family moved to Neyveli, where I spent my early years learning Tamil in school and Telugu at home.
My dad’s dedication to learning did not stop with himself; he extended it to us as well. I have fond memories of sitting on his lap while he read comics like “Phantom” to me. When it came to education, he set high standards, pushing me to excel in my studies. He would closely examine my report card and inquire about the reasons behind any grade less than perfect. His pride in my achievements was evident when I scored higher than him in the SSLC examination.
Summer holidays were never just about leisure; my dad used them as an opportunity to expose us to new experiences and expand our horizons. Factory tours were a favorite, and we eagerly visited places like confectioneries to sample sweets to our heart’s content. Cement plants, ceramic plants, and steel plants were among the many places he took us to, fostering our curiosity about the world.
I have cherished memories of visiting the power plant at Mettur dam during its construction. The project boss gave us a tour, taking us into the tunnel in a jeep. As young children, my sister Shoba and I were scared, especially when he pointed out weak spots in the tunnel’s ceiling. We clung to each other, petrified, but these experiences taught us courage and a thirst for adventure.
My dad’s commitment to education extended beyond academics; he taught me valuable skills outside the classroom. He recognized the importance of typing and had me take typing classes during one summer, which proved to be a beneficial skill in the long run. Additionally, he introduced me to different trades like drafting and machine shop work during other summers, providing me with diverse knowledge and practical skills.
His support and guidance continued even when I entered college. During summers, he encouraged me to pursue new interests and helped set me on a path towards my future career. One significant summer, after we moved from Neyveli to New Delhi, he arranged for me to spend time at the Planning Commission computer room, where I learned computer programming. This experience played a pivotal role in shaping my profession, as I started with programming and later moved into managing IT departments.
My dad’s impact on my life goes far beyond academics and professional aspirations. He was a great man, honest and full of integrity. I cannot recall a single instance of him lying, cheating, or taking a bribe. His exemplary character and strong sense of citizenship inspired respect from all who knew him. He may not have had a large circle of close friends, but those he considered his closest were dear to him.
Throughout his life, he achieved numerous accolades and accomplishments, both professionally and personally. As a prolific writer, he published several articles in professional publications. He even served as the President of the Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers and graded dissertations for future Chemical Engineering PhDs.
On the occasion of his 100th birthday, I am filled with gratitude for the values he instilled in me - honesty, fairness, and a relentless pursuit of knowledge. His influence on my life has been immeasurable, and I am proud to call him my dad. I am thankful for the example he set, as it continues to shape the person I have become.
Dr CVS Ratnam was a remarkable gentleman. He was so gracious in1994 when I met him at the weddings of Balaji and Chinni. He welcomed me into the family and made me feel at ease. He was so engaging in conversation, so knowledgeable, so sincere.
Even now, I continue to recognize his influence in conversations with my husband, Venu, and other family members. They give reference to his outstanding character, some community or professional achievement he made, or an accomplishment that was the result of his efforts.
When people talk about him, it is as if they want to share their sense of pride that he was their father, their friend, associate, or neighbour.
I see you, lost in thought,
Behind a newspaper, magazine, or book.
Your curiosity knows no bounds,
Your thirst for knowledge, never quenched.
You encouraged us to learn and grow,
To reach for the stars, to never give up.
Despite your humble beginnings,
You accomplished so much.
You were a natural leader,
With command of any room you entered.
Honest and generous, always willing to help,
Especially those in need.
You broke the mold, the first in your family
To go to college, to climb the career ladder.
You landed at the United Nations,
Helping countries market their technologies.
I am so proud of you, Dad.
You were my role model, my inspiration.
You and Mom, a match made in heaven,
Supportive of each other through thick and thin.
I wonder how you'd handle the internet,
With all the world's knowledge at your fingertips.
I miss you, Dad, and your booming laughter.
But your legacy lives on, in your children and grandchildren.
We carry your values, your thirst for knowledge,
And your passion for making a difference in the world.
Thank you, Dad, for everything.
October 8, 2023
Houston, Texas, USA
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