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A small request: Please add your thoughts at the end making sure (please double check) nothing here get deleted. Many Thanks. - Brij
22nd August will be a black day for a lot of us. This was the day when one of the most sterling person we knew - Sairam Poonja - made his way to HIS heavenly abode. He touched our lives in many ways, never ever broke anyone's heart, was a guide to us and a true friend at all times. People who knew Sairam for even a day or two became close to him and depended upon him. I cannot even begin to to feel the enormity of the loss to his family. Sharing my family's condolences seems so feeble in this situation. How powerless is man!!!
These are times of personal crisis - at times like this our faith is shaken - we feel impotent before HIS ways. This place is an area where we could add our thoughts about Sairam and in doing so try to alleviate some of the pain we feel.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts here. Any and every thought and feeling is valuable if only it helps us think about him together.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understandings;In all ways acknowledge Him, And he shall direct your paths. Proverbs3:5-6
I find solace in this proverb
--Brijwhiz 21:02, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
I dont get it. I just dont freaking get it. Did I not pray hard enough? Did we all not freaking pray hard enough? In all the freaking 10 -12 years I knew him, not one harmful word, not one mean thought, not one loud word has ever come out of him. Then why? Is there no freaking justice? All that crap about good comes to good? What the hell is that?
I dont get it. Last evening my friends took me out to an "advance" birthday party. And in another part of the world this was happening at the exact same time.
I just dont get it. Can you really tell me this is the way it works, this is the way its supposed to freaking work????????
How could he die? How could you let him die?
Yes, yes I know all that crap about him being at peace now and it's us who are in pain because it's our loss. What about his wife? His dad? What about the whole future he never got to have?
One of the only 5 or so people in our batch who never got a KT. Yes, ask us about his potential. More than anything else, the calmest quietest most decent person.. what do they call it.. total big brother material. And he even cared about me like a big brother.
How can this happen? What could we have done to prevent this?
I look outside the window, the palms trees are just as they always were. The traffic is as always. I also know that I'll have to move on with work and all other plans as always. But what about his plans????? He must have made 5 year plans, too. His wife must have thought about their future together. Now what? When one variable is missing from the equation?
He's not in pain anymore. I wish I could keep reminding that to myself.
I dont remember the first time we met. When I was 16? First year of engineering? Somehow's he's -was -the type of guy who doens't make grand entrances. He was just always there. When was it I started tying him rakhi? When was it I stopped?
We exchanged mails every year twice at least, on March 29th and once in September. On both our birthdays. And last year, on November 7th, his anniversary. Oh God, he got to have only ONE anniversary.
One year I called him on March 30th as I could not call him on the 29th. And the next year, I just thought of him, simply, and called him on the 28th.. not even remembering that it was his birthday the next day. He dint mention it either. The next day I remembered it was his birthday, and emailed him. This is what he said - "Anyway when I got a call from you this time on the 28th I thought that you setting the average correct, last time you called me up on the 30th so you might be making up for it by calling a day earlier. Anyway its always nice to hear from you, we should speak more often than just 2 times a year (once on my b'day and once on yours). "
I guess I should be saving those few emails.. I wont be getting no more mails from him, huh?
I really dont know what I'm writing, why I'm writing all this. ...I am just so angry.
I wonder if the measure of closeness is how many times a month you talk on the phone, how many times you meet. I wonder if it can be measured by the depth we feel inside us.
I wonder if he knew how much I love him. I wonder if he knew that I know how much he cared for me.
Sai, I hope you knew - know - how much we all love and respect you.
Last Man Standing
Just lost my dear friend, Sairam;
A wonderful person he was.
A friend you could always count on;
A friend who would never let you down.
I am not sure why God chose him;
I ain't even sure how God picked him.
Does He have a list from where,
He picks a name at random?
Some say God always chooses,
the good ones when they are young.
If thats true, then I'm safe for now,
Coz I'll be the Last Man Standing.
I didn't get to see or talk with Sai since we left college. I don't even think I was one of his closet frieds. Even with all that I feel so much pain that is Indescribable. That's the kind of person he was. He had touched everyone's heart with his kindness and warmth. I feel so sad that I couldn't see him anytime recently.
This is bringing all those memory back when I lost my father. I really don't know how god picks them.
I can't even imagine how his father must feel. I know all the hope that my mother has from my brother and I am sure he had the same from his son. I won't even pretend to know what Meena must be going through.
His loss has made me realize one more time that we all need to overcome the hurdles of money and time to spend time with our loved ones.
When I recollect my days of college I always see montage of events rather than the actual time-line. Many people influenced me and guided me through life. At different junctures people like Deepak, Raghu, Meghna, Swati, Bharati, Anant, Vasudha, Pranav, Nev, Oliver, Sangram and many more held my hand and helped me move ahead. I cannot still forget how i escaped the axe in the CMA paper because Rama had helped me out with 4 queens problem at the last minute though that meant that he himself could not study it. Still the 2 constants that I see in all these montages is of Sai and Sarat. Sarat helped groom my rebellious side, Sai helped guide me a sort of maturity.
There were very few things I ever did for anyone - I guess I was too lazy to get off my arse. The one thing in college that I was proud of was thanks to Sai. When Sai came and requested, in his usual humble and calm way, whether I could do one graphics program as he and Deepak had a whole lot on their hands I agreed - cause you could not say no to that man. I slogged for that one for Sai - and got the accolades for myself. In many ways that one program woke me up again and made me love the whole subject again. Till date I do not know why he asked me to do it - but I Thank Him for the same.
The last time I saw Sai was in Poona. He used to come down to maintain the Poonawallah's system. When he was here he used to be put up in the best 4 star in town. Now I (like Raghu) have always hated to dress up (Sarat once kept me waiting outside the Taj cause he felt I was looking too downtrodden). That day I dressed up real good cause I did not want Sai to feel ashamed. It was the first time I ever entered a 4 star room. Sai was the same - smiling and enquiring about how stuff is happening. He had had a very tough day but still he was most accomodating. We had a great night and when I came home I realised that he had worked his magic again. I had opened up to him and felt free - but he never went into details about himself. As usual he did not think that was important.
I have seen Sai angry once. I think it was with Raghu cause he was playing the fool one day. It was a stern simmering anger like a father would have for his son. Let me tell you Raghu and me both kept our traps shut and started studying just so that we did not have to see him angry. That one time was enough. Still I was happy that he got angry in front of us - made us feel special, if that makes any sense!
This morning I stand at the window here in Boston, looking at the rain outside. Sai's face from the casket yesterday is before my eyes, and wont' go away. I keep thinking of his closed eyes, while mine are open at this moment. I look at the rain, and think, he will never get to see the rain anymore. Then I wonder, did he even like looking at the rains like this? I regret so much that I dont know little things like this about him. He probably knew so much more about everyone around him that we did about him, in that quiet listening way of his.
Last night I called up Sarat, sobbing, and did not know what to say, what I expected him to say. We listened to each others silences, and held the memory of Sai on the phone line. I tell Sarat, I dont want me to ever forget how I am feeling today, lest I ever feel, for one single moment, that the pain at his loss will lessen.
I suppose all we can think is that he knows. He knows our respect, our love, and how much he touched our lives.
July 1992. A neatly dressed, cleanly shaved, twinkle-eyed, radiantly shining guy attending his first class of his first day of junior college at Somaiya walked straight into the empty seat besides me. Little did I know then that this person would go on to become my best and closest friend. I consider myself really lucky that I had the privilege of being so close with this noble soul known as Sairam for 14 years.
Sai's looks hardly changed in all these years. He has always looked eactly the same as he did on that first day of his college life. My metabolism had yet to kick in at that point - I looked like a school kid back then. The first thoughts that ran through my mind when Sai sat next to me were - Oops, yet another senior who's come to rag us. But when Sai started with - How many lectures have gone through since college started? Do you have notes for those? - I realized he was a fresher just like me. I was so relieved. Our wavelengths matched immediately .
I still remember all the fun we had together during our Geology lectures in junior college - most of these lectures were spent in college festivals across Bombay. The most memorable moments being the long walks we had in the sprawling college campus, and all those cricket sessions in the campus. Sai was an instant hit with everyone. The very first day he bowled, he injured 3 people including me. His pace was devastating, and each time he hit someone he would come running, flash his innocent smile and hug the person whom he hit - Sorry yaar, hope I did not hurt you badly. He was nicknamed Harold Larwood of the bodyline fame. Word spread fast in the campus and he was immediately most wanted amongst the students - in lectures and in the ground.
I lost touch with him for a few days after the 12th results. But then, as destiny would have it - he met me just as I was returning from VJTI after taking admission in MGM college. He asked me where I had taken admission.
Then, when I landed up in MGM, I was so glad to see two known faces - Sai and Rama. We were back together. Sai said - at least I knew someone in MGM and hence opted for this college - I felt so good.
Most of you would have dear memories of the 4 years we spent in that college.
As if we were meant to be together much longer, Sai and me started off our first jobs in the same company. Guru was also there, but that was not his first job. This was the time when we all came so very close to each other. It was like a dream come true - having a very good friend besides you right from early teens right into adulthood.
Thats the period when I was to witness the emotional side of this gentleman. He would take me aside and cry like a baby pouring his heart out. The day when something bad happened with his sister or some friend he would feel their pain himself and would cry in a silent corner of the office. As far as I know, 1999-2003 were the most emotionally challenging years in Sai's life. A lot of incidents happened during this time which shook up Sai's life inside out.
One afternoon in late 1999 or early 2000 Sai came into office late in the afternoon, took me aside in 1 corner and wept really hard. His mother was detected with Cancer and it was in an advanced state. He was shocked and was feeling so helpless. But he soon gathered enough courage to help her fight. For a few months, he din't inform his mother of anything and kept fighting really hard. We went to a few hospitals and treatment started off. We got in touch with some NGO's which offered a lot of help. This is when I got to know his family closely. I have never seen so much bonding amongst brothers as between Sai and his 2 brothers.
Although he was so emotional inside, he would never let it shown to the world. He would immediately gather his strength and would always maintain great poise.
It the meanwhile when I left the company and moved on to a new one, I tried getting Sai along. But he had already made his mind to go to the US and get money to help his mother fight cancer. But just to make me feel good, he still came to give an interview in my new company. The MD, who is known for his ability see through people inside out, had just these words to say about Sai - "Too nice a person".
He was shattered when he lost his mother. But showed great strength and took care that his family did not break down. He was like a parent to his two brothers.
I was unfortunate to not have attended Sai's wedding. But he more than made it up when he came back from his marriage in Mangalore to Bombay and the very next day reached my house. Both Meena and Sai were wearing traditional marriage clothes and they looked awesome together. The hug on that day felt like that of a man who felt trimphant on achieving a feat.
The last time I heard his voice was on the July 4 weekend when Sai had organized a get together for Guru and Rama and they had called in at my place. How I missed being there.
For all these years, just being around Sai was reason enough to feel so good and relaxed. Here was one person who just by his mere presence, even without uttering a single word, could make people feel comfortable.
Ever since Aug 10 since the news of his stroke, I have been feeling so very helpless. So angry on myself that I was not able to do anything to save this angel lying in coma. It was very frustating.
But then I thought about Sai. How he gained composure and faced situations bravely. He would definitely not have liked to see us weeping. And then he became alive again. Talking to me. He is still alive and smiling in my memories and like always is always there for me.
We all mourn you
in our many different ways,
wont bring you back
We pour over old pictures
and old emails
you're forever trapped on only those.
We reminsce all the old times
over and over
the exams and assignments
you as a father figure.
Someone thinks of you
as ever the elder brother
Who cared.. and cared..
The teenage years,
the growing up
the college times,
and your maturity
throughout it all
You remain in them
How come you were just there,
just there every day
You're just as much,
Some languish in guilt,
of not having talked to you
what will I do now,
I used to talk to him everyday
Some talk of years past,
some of the weekend they met
five, just five weeks ago
Some of 'em lucky ones
have multiple memories
other less fortunate ones
dwindled to a few memories
But all of 'em memories
have the same quality
of your sincerity
you love for others
your huge huge heart
thank you for
the past 10-12 years
of gentle calm lessons
which we never knew
we were getting
People live through
what they left behind.
And I'm mistaken
in saying you're not there
Coz you live
through the many many of us
that think so fondly of you.
If you could have seen
the church so full,
there was no room
for many of us to sit
I wasn't the only fool sobbing
I heard so many tears
So many quiet tears
for allowing us
We feel you
We'll always have
our father figure
our elder brother.
And much much more
than our engineering degrees
dedicated to you
I know Sairam Poonja only for a very short time when i used to stay in Boston. One of my friends told me that he had a cardiac arrest. That itself was a big shock to me. After 2 days i heard this news. I could not believe it and was silent for some time. How can it happen? I met his wife also couple of times. Really i pity her and how can she digest this fact. I cannot imagine that.
May God give peace to his wife and family.
It is so difficult to quantify the influence of others in our lives and the directions we choose to take. For someone who was close to all of us as Sai was, that task is impossible. I remember my first impressions of Sai formed very early into our first year of engineering - I thought he was calm, composed, intelligent dude with a whole lot of integrity. Most of all - he was a good person. In the years since we all got out of college, we didn't see other more than on a few occassions, but kept in regular touch through correspondences - emails and phone calls.
But more importantly, those 4 years that we were in almost daily contact in college, as well as the years since then, my early impressions of Sai underwent some changes. I realized more and more, that to me Sai was not this uni-dimensional, do-gooder who was doing all of this for us simply to make our lives better. He had his family. He had his interests. He had his ambitions. He looked up to some of our classmates. He also had his pet peeves. He disliked some of our lecturers. He got angry. He muttered choice expletives. As Vipul described earlier so vividly, Sai loved playing cricket and he loved bowling fast - he was good at it too. And as our class's front-line pace bowler, he loved to run down and bowl quick and aggressive - not afraid to intimidate opponents on the other side of the pitch. At that time, Sai was a competitor and he wanted to do well, wanted to get wickets - help his team win. He didn't do it because he wanted to help the team win so we'd all feel better. He did it because he wanted to win.
Does it make it easier to remember someone as merely a good person? Or does it make it easier to remember that there were people like Sai who weren't afraid of being human while also being unafraid of doing what they believed was the right thing to do? It so happened that Sai loved the people he came in contact with - us lucky few, some more luckier than others, who helped shape his life as much as he helped shape ours in that subtle way that all our lives are connected. The right thing to do for him was just to be there to understand his friends and connect with us, be a man of integrity because we all would be so exposed and lost without the shelter his integrity granted us. Be steady so he can help us. And be there for us so we could help him become stronger too. One common thread in all our experiences was that Sai leaned on us at key moments - from trivial to critical - to help him realize he could handle the challenges life was throwing up for him. But more importantly, the common thread that runs through his vulnerable moments, was that he enriched our lives by conferring on us responsibility, faith and trust that we wouldn't give ourselves. He sought strength from us - and in that only made us stronger. And only connected him more strongly to us by stunning us with the realization - we were his friends and he depended on us.
How can we love someone who is larger than life? Who is too good for us? Who is too damn near perfect that he can never relate to us? Who is too sure of himself to ever need us and our help? Who makes us feel lower than inferior? We cannot!
Sai is loved because he is a fantastic human being in all the ways a person is fantastic. During his time with us - he stayed close to all dear to him. And in his passing he brought us all even closer. Made jaded people like me realize that I feel deeply the void he has left behind, feel the immeasurable sadness and grief when someone loved leaves us. Tears that well as I write about him. All feelings I thought I was too depraved to feel without feeling guilty about not feeling. Once more he helped me grow a little more. Sai's presence in our lives made us all better than we were. His memory will continue to make that happen.
And somewhere in the recesses of my mind, there is this small nagging feeling that this was his agenda all along.
-sarat (September 1st, 2006)
I knew Sai almost 6 years ago. He was the most kind , gentle and sincere person I have known.
I had just finished replying back to Sai on Sunday night, when Guru wrote to us on Monday, that he had suffered a stroke last Friday and of hope of "his complete recovery and hope he returns to normalcy soon." I wasn't a close friend in the usual sense, but there was a connection, which each time we communicated, was very strong. Heck! I didn't "know" that his mother passed away, but i knew and was afraid that it was true - somehow i never spoke about it with him, now sometimes i wish i did. Wished i had known him more intimately. He always used to ask me about my mother. However, I didn't want him to re-live that moment while telling me about it ... It was very painful to see the hurt the one time he did mention about his mother being "ill". I really hope he inherited his strength from his father, i really, truly do. And passed on most to Meena. Each time I think of Sai now, it wrenches my heart. From the movie Anand, "Zindagi aur Maut upar waaley ke haat mein hai, Jahan-Panah, isey na aap badal sakte ho na mein. Hum is rang manch ki katputliyaan hai, jinki dor upar waaley ke unglion mein bandhi hue hai. Kab? Kaun? Kaisey utheyga? koi nahin bata sakta ..." His life was big, not long, we all wish it was longer though, this was much tooo short, much too short. The reply i sent him to his last email was 3 days too late, he will never read it ... I have quite a bit left unsaid to him and much, much more unheard from him. -Amit Varde (September 5th, 2006)
That was shock for me. Sai is no more??? I still can't beleive it... Unfortunately I didn't accessed mail for quite a long time So was not aware of this. Sai, a true friend, guide, motivator... I still remember my frustrating days in the company... sai was there to always guide me and help me. I have become DBA only after his suggestion and motivation. He was the one who was constantly boosting me to do certification. I have cleared certifications. When I was started working with Microsoft, I mailed him about it and immediately got the reply to congratulate...I still remember his golden words..."It's just the begining....don't look back". Yes Sai, With your wishes I am still going ahead. I know your best wishes will be always with me. I still remember each and every word you told me. I am sure you was motivator for many persons like me. Sai...now, while writing this I am remembering your smile and your voice over the call...whenever I called you..."Hey Bhups....bol re...kaisa hai?" He always was very caring for others.... Whenever I called him, he always enquired about my father...and got a condolence mail when he was passed away. As Vipul said, He would definitely not have liked to see us weeping. Sai, you will be always with me, smiling.... in my mind, heart. - Bhupendra Valsangkar. (September 7th, 2006)
"SaiRam, SaiRam, SaiRam. I'm so glad that you are my friend. Atleast you make me remember the Almighty." This is how I used to tease him sometimes during our college days. And he used to react with his typical refreshing and innocuous smile.
Not sure if its possible for me to express the grief and the feelings. But thought of giving it a try by remembering Sai's can-do spirit.
I still remember the day of our 7th sem results - got KT in SSAD. There I was, experiencing the exam failure for the first time in life and probably, at the most critical stage of my educational career. I needed to find some comfort to get over those horrified times. And I'm not sure if it was really good on my part to think like this but I found it a bit comforting that Sai was also short of those "betraying-40". Probably, I was trying to tell myself that I did not fail because I'm stupid coz then Sai wouldn't be part of the same boat. Finally, re-checking/re-verification magic worked for me, Sai and I guess for most of us, making those "betraying-40" to be "belated-40".
The last time I spoke to him was in USA, when I decided to return back to India. Don't remember the exact conversation but was more on the lines of why did I decide to return n all...the one thing I specifically remember though, is, when I asked him about his plans to be back in India, he said that sometimes you got to do things even if you don't like...That time I thought, he is probably caught into the vicious circle of need-more-money-for-comfort. Only to realize recently how wrong I was, after reading the thoughts from Vipul where he mentioned about the illness of his mother.
Usually, we have some sort of image in our mind about most of the people, we think, we know. And if I want to express in one word then "Genuine" is what comes to the mind when I hear the name SaiRam. There is a feeling of great respect, admiration and appreciation for this person with live-for-others attitude.
An event such as this, reminds us of the mysterious nature of life and the finality of human existence. It makes us feel small and insignificant.
Let us pray that his family gets the strength needed to bear with this tragic loss.
- Sanjay Gangwal (September 21, 2006)
Note: I posted this on another site, silly me.
Sairam Poonja, or affectionately called Sai, was a graduate student from MGM College of Engg. New Bombay. I said was, since he passed away on Aug 22nd 2006.
Sai is a perfect example of what God intended of Man. He was brilliant in his studies, a great friend to have and totally unselfish at heart. He would never say No if we asked him for anything. He was the silent and listening type, but when he spoke, everything that he said, made sense and one could easily tell, there is an intellectual in our midst.
As one of our friends, Brijesh, said, "We owe him a lot during Engineering days and also our engg. degree."
I do not know why he died so young and all my prayers are with his wife, Meena and his brothers, Dad and in-laws.
Au revoir, bon amie. --neville
What do i say about Sai? Sai and I never really shared the greatest friendship ... but just the person that he was evoked a great sense of respect in everyone around him. I know or rather i knew sai since early childhood. We lived in opposite buildings and along with the rest of the gang we used to play together. Weve played all those kiddie games... karvanti gul, catch n cook, saakli, lagori, chor police, hide n seek ... those days were fun.
What actually amazes me the most is the reason for his death...chest pain... the sai i knew was always a fit and a healthy sai ... he used to be the fastest runner amongst us all and could race anyone of us by a large large margin ... he used to be so powerful when he would run. Especially when we would play a relay race ..it was taken for granted that if sai is in ur team ,ur team would win. I remember his mother always clutching on to a pile of certificates that sai would win during the sports days in school.
I once had a kind of a tiff with sai... but it was my fault totaly ... and today when i think of the way he handled it ...i think it was really mature of him to have done so and that too at the age of 15 i suppose. He kept it a secret all this while and has now taken it with him. He never had a grudge against me for it.
He was always prone towards education and i remember when i did well in my SSC exams he who usually dint mingle around too much with me, actually came out of his house to meet me and congratulate me and the genuineness in his eyes was so clear.
I also remember his dissapointment when he secured just a 77% during his SSC exams much below what he expected and much below what he deserved for the efforts that he put in.
Very soon I shifted from that locality and even though i tried hard to stay in touch ... we lost touch. So today when i think of sai ..i dont think of an engineer sai or and nri sai ...for me he and all the other friends ...i remember as friends with whom ive played with, gone for mornig walks... all those memories of sai came back to me when i heard of his death
I wish all his near and dear ones the strength and the peace to carry on and now i also wish we had known each other some more.
Munna (Renil Bose) 15th March 2007
It is over a year now that Sai is gone, but I just can not seem to come to terms with it. Meena spent the long weekend with us. I guess I am just so used to Meena and Sai that a part of me always kept thinking that Sai is in the other room... There is a small place in my heart which is still not convinced of the obvious. I am afraid to examine and inspect that part of my heart... just afraid that it might take over! In that small place, Meena/Sai, Archana/Guru, Payal and I; have adjacent homes in the Mission Area in Fremont, CA. In there somewhere Bharat (Batu) is here with us, doing his MS... Sai and Meena just filed their 140 and 485... they just closed the deal on the NH home... they just got a plasma TV... we all just attended Meena's graduation... then my graduation... had fun at Payal's baby shower... drove down to meet Guru at St. Louis (that was supposed to be this year's get together)... and make that friggin' Europe trip... i owe sai and meena a couple of parties and they owe us a couple... but who's counting....... i guess i need to just GET A GRIP, NOW!!! seeing meena like this, is like silent punishment... just known her for over a couple years now... but feel like i've know her for ages... i still remember him say - 'rama, woh (meena) scholar hai re... engg. main distinction hai usko! mujhe usko idhar padhana hai...' and then 'yeah' and 'woh' and what not... i could almost see meena before i actually saw her... and from all our weekends at sai and meena's; payal would say 'aisa kaisa re, how can they be soooo MADE FOR EACH OTHER?' anyway... last week was meena's birthday... usually, i do not remember any birthdays... sala, this birthday i cannot forget!!! memory sucks!!! wish i never remembered any of anything! but this is all in that little space in my heart!!! my fight is to not go there ever again!!! it is like smoking... i have not smoked for the last 4 years, but it does not stop me from longing for a smoke...