Dr. K. K. Sekharan, memories

Dealing with obituaries gets harder as one gets older. We start losing people of our own age, people you have shared the same stages in life. All the claims that these are times to celebrate the lives of the departed to rejoice in what they accomplished and not to mourn, should apply to the younger generation who have legitimate reasons to commemorate their loved ones for having enjoyed productive and pleasant times here. These children certainly had a father they can be proud of forever. And one who would be hard to emulate.
      But to me, the perspective is different.
     I am the same age as Sekharan. We became friends as we met the very first time – a picnic in a park around Kingwood. It was 1979 or so. From that very day, we have remained good friends, a family, for several years. We were young – once upon a time -we came from similar backgrounds and culture, traditions, purpose, ambitions and hardships, we did succeed in our professions, we raised our children together, we met as often as we could, we enjoyed doing things jointly, we celebrated birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries and Shashtipoorthis and we treasured each other’s company. And then we got old and limited and faded. Now, he is gone. I am still around.
      As much as I lost a dear friend, the one consolation I have, is that he was not himself for many years, and without much hope for a recovery, I accept it as a relief that he has escaped from the clutches of a sad and hopeless predicament. I am sure, he felt the same way. We all would.
     Sekharan was a unique person, a distinctly different creation, if I may. We don’t get to see many of his kind around. A man of few words, but very bright, resolute, determined, at times even remote, but one who would accomplish anything he sets his mind on, no matter what that objective is. A most dependable friend, you can trust and entrust him, and leave the rest up to him. It would be done, and done better than anybody else could have done.
     Whether it is running the marathon, what a coincidence that our Houston marathon is tomorrow, or learning Bharatnatyam dancing at 65, he was determined to excel. There was nothing impossible, nothing insurmountable in his vocabulary. Just interesting challenges and exciting goals that he could and would be conquered. Never a question; not even a hint.
     I remember once he was in our house and wanted to do the treadmill on my equipment. Normally I struggle doing about three miles an hour, of course with no slope, but he straightaway went to 6 or 7 miles with the steepest incline. And he kept doing it without a clue of tiredness. I was surprised, and even a bit jealous and I asked him, what the heck or you trying to prove, Sekharan? Showing off? You have to respect your age and find your limits. But Sekharan did not have limits in his glossary. If he decided on something, he will make sure it happened.
     During the last few years, he was compromised. It was so sadly ironic, that someone who was so very healthy, had to endure such a situation. That is when we revisit our acceptance in a designed destiny, the fate element. I believe in a higher decision, as much as science may frown upon calling you fatalistic, sentimentalist, ignorant.
     Perhaps each of us is sent down here with an assignment to complete, with a certain length of time and resources offered at the discretion of the Creator. With the kind of tenacity, determination, and over-enthusiasm, perhaps my friend completed his assigned chores, exhausting his allocated supplies, way ahead of his time. In school, while taking tests, the smart ones completed the question papers well ahead of others. And in the Marathon, the winners completed and took rest while the slow ones kept toiling. Sekharan apparently did it with his life. He was perhaps taking it easy, resting up, during the last few years, allowing and offering an opportunity, for his loving family to take care of him. Even testing them out! Who knows, he might have been contemplating! Being Sekharan, one would never know, and we would never find out.
     He was a brilliant physicist. Only brilliant people would choose such a tough field and can do well. And of course, it is dry and boring to others who cannot fathom it. And Sekharan’s personality perfectly matched that of a physicist. Clean, distinguished, objective, uncluttered, and defined as the subject.
     As you know, in the Hindu pantheon, there are male and female deities. You may have heard about the Ardhanareeswara concept. The symbolic, spiritual explanation is that the male aspect represents the matter and the female, that of energy. As distinctly different they are, abiding by the notion that ‘opposites attract’, the inert matter cannot function to its potential without the counterpart, the vigor of energy. And the couple functioned in unison like an equation in Physics. And in their family, I don’t need to tell you who was the matter and who was the energy.
      If one follows science, Particle Physics and its potential has a huge role in our past, present, and future, in all the prospects and potential of humanity. He was an example of that enormous potential.
     With that concept, let us collectively wish Sekharan a passage into Eternity and pray that his soul earns the Ultimate Salvation, blending with the Absolute Consciousness. Moksha. That only the saintly can attain. And my friend was a saint in his own inimitable way.
     And Sekharan always has been way ahead of us. Now, certainly more than ever.
Thank you. Om Shanthi, Shanthi, Shanthi.

Author: Dr. Venugopal Menon

Was born and raised in a loving family in pre-independent India, became a doctor, served Indian army, got married, then came over to America with wife and a daughter, established as a successful Allergist, raised a family of three children, was involved in many social establishments, retired, and wrote memoirs, 'My Mother Called Me Unni, A Doctor's Tale of Migration'.

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