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Memory of Dr. CVS Ratnam

There are people, mentors, family and personalities that come into our lives that are larger than life. My recollection along with my Eldest daughter Leela and my wife Dawn is to honour that memory of DR.C.V.S.Ratnam. We all know how highly educated and worldly he was. He was competitive, loving and at times overbearing in his approach to family, but that is because he loved us all so fiercely. A memory that comes to mind is one that was told by Amma and Annayya.

The story as I recall is like this:

I was 2 or 3 years when father met Ratnam Bawa and decided that he would be a prospective husband for my oldest sister Sarojini. He and his family were invited to meet in Penukonda. I was a talented little singer. During the ceremony of meeting, I was asked to sing, and I did sing a song. I can’t remember the song, but he was so impressed by it, he picked me up, threw me in the air with joy and I lost my voice for six months! I think I was scared or overwhelmed by his reaction to my singing.

Bawa was always looking to “hang” out with us, and I don’t think we appreciated him as much as we should have as we ignored his attempts to be part of our gang. When I think back on this, it was just being young and quick and not interested in slowing down our pace.

I remember thinking that we should have included him in our games more often.

One of my most special memory is: upon returning from the USA with his PhD Bawa brought me a slide rule. This was really big deal! I was the only one in my class who had one.

Also, I don’t know if everyone knows this but Bawa was quite instrumental in my coming to Canada.

We had all come together for Vanaja’s wedding, and I was working on the west coast (Mithapur) – I had a good job, and we all came and we were sitting upstairs in the hall.

He said, Hi and then pushed for me to get my PhD.

I said that I loved my job, and I don’t know why I would do that.

He said, “you don’t have any commitments. You should go.”

He knew someone at the research council in Edmonton, Dr. Burkowitz who was an expert in coal.

He wrote to Dr. Burkowitz, and few months later, I got a letter from the head of the Chemical Engineering at the university of Alberta, Dr. Robinson asking me to send details of my education and my marks. I got a scholarship and the rest was history.

He changed my life. I met the love of my life -Dawn- and continued on to have an incredible life here in Canada, a life that may not have had if he had not pushed me towards higher education.

I think I have only disappointed him once; that was because as I did not marry someone from India. However, the minute he met my beautiful wife, and first daughter Leela, all that disapproval melted away. He adored Dawn, but then who doesn’t. Dawn was eager to be a part of the family and impressed Bawa with her propensity for wearing sari, eating vegetarian food- the spicier the better, and for integrating the Indian culture into her life. I had chosen someone who loved and respected my culture and he respected me for that, along with my high level of education and in his opinion, following in his footsteps.

Finally, a story that I had shared with my daughter Leela is as follows:

My friend Judy Nixon was visiting, and got into an argument with Bawa and Leela joined in.

He was extremely interested in Leela’s argument and gave her space to develop her point of view. Leela remembers this with great love and respect.

I am very grateful to Shoba for giving us all this opportunity to remember a great man, who was very proud and passionate. Those two qualities are part of what makes the Darsi clan so special and he added so much to our family.

Sarojini, CR Darsi, Dr. CVS Ratnam, Dawn

At Hyderabad 20-8-1988


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