There are a few people who prefer to remain backstage, but are so critical that work won’t go on without their presence and assistance. Ramesh was one such extraordinary individual who made his presence felt by his quiet work. He was the one who ran our dispensary early on and also built our reputation as a health NGO. Conditions could not have been more adverse that what they were then. We were living in an alien place amidst very little physical comfort. Water had to be bought from a tube well around 100 feet away and electricity was known more by its absence. There was no milk or milk products in our food. Our meals were limited both by the money we had and by our poor culinary skills. There was hardly any money to run the hospital. And to top it all, we had raised the expectations of both the tribal and rural communities.
Ramesh was not even a member of SVYM then. I once queried him why he had accompanied me on this difficult mission. He said that he found me struggling alone and presumed that I could do with some help. And by virtue of being born and brought up in a rural area, he thought that he was more qualified than me to work under such demanding conditions. He was so simplistically selfless! He had no grandiose ambitions nor desired any fame or fortune.
It fell on me to mobilize resources and support from the outside community and this meant that I was travelling more than staying back at Brahmagiri. It was during these times that Ramesh held fort and ran the hospital and our small kitchen, went out on house calls and attended to patients on the mobile that we had begun using the old jeep lent to us by the Ramakrishna Vidyashala Mysore. He was a true multitasker. More than anything else, he endeared himself to the tribals and they look forward to his occasional visits even today. His commitment to patient care was unparalleled and this helped raise the bar for all those who came to serve here later.
I remember how one day I found him carrying a tribal lady in his arms into our dispensary. I was stunned by what I saw. Ramesh had gone to Elachikattehadi (a Kadukuruba tribal colony close to Brahmagiri) to attend to a house call. There he found Puttamma, severely dehydrated from an acute diarrheal attack. He wanted to shift her to our dispensary and infuse her with life saving fluids. He could not find any male member either in the family or in the colony to help bring her to the clinic. The women did not seem to be of much help either. Left with no choice, he carried her to the clinic himself and calmly set about infusing the intravenous fluids. Puttamma recovered completely and was back home a day later. She even today remembers how ‘Ramesh Daaktru’ saved her life. I am not sure if anyone else even knows about this incident. Ramesh did not like speaking about it. To him, it was just what he was supposed to do under those circumstances. He avoided the limelight at all times and found contentment in his work.
Dinner time at Brahmagiri
From Left: K.Balasubramanya, Ramesh, Seetharam, Karthik
There was so much to learn from him and I enjoyed every minute of his company. His sense of humor was something everyone remembers and which I am constantly reminded of, by being the butt of his jokes. Thank you Ramesh, for being the person that you are. Our friendship is something I cherish the most in my life.