Saturday, March 9, 2002

From journalism to world of ideas

Syed Nooruzzaman

T..K.Ramasamy         Portrait:Kuldip Dhiman

IT was around 10.15 in the morning. The telephone began ringing. As I picked up the receiver, the person at the other end cried, "Please uncle, come to Mr Ramasamy's house. He is serious. He requires to be taken to hospital."

She was his adopted daughter, who came in contact with this great journalist through his niece. Ramasamy was a bachelor by choice. But that was in the conventional sense. Otherwise, he had married journalism immediately after doing MA in economics at Nagpur. His affair with the profession of his choice began with Nagpur's Hitvada. After a few years he shifted to New Delhi's Patriot and then to New Wave. A major opportunity came his way when he was offered the job of Assistant Editor at The Tribune 20 years ago.

At Chandigarh, he was able not only to present his views to a larger audience but also to directly interact with people who mattered in different areas of activity. That was how he created a vast network of friends and admirers. Hence his decision never to leave the City Beautiful. His end came as he wanted —in a dignified manner. He did not own a house because he never wanted to have such an asset. Yet he did not have to live with any of his many friends always ready to oblige him. He died at his official residence as a self-respecting person which he was every inch.


He had retired two years ago. But he was re-employed keeping in view his professional worth, though it was physically not possible for him to function from The Tribune's office complex. His house was, therefore, converted into an office-cum-residence. That meant the office itself came to him. This was the measure of the man's utility.

He did not die the day his adopted daughter pressed the panic button. As this writer, a colleague indebted to Ramasamy professionally, reached his house, the ailing journalist was unable to communicate with anybody. He had a serious breathing problem and was feeling extremely weak. He was taking some medicine through an inhaler. Within a few minutes he regained some strength and was his usual self: " Today I want to write on the overall political situation in the country. What is the subject you want to write on?" Soon he fell on his bed saying, "No, no. I am feeling severe weakness. I won't be able to write." He was talking in a feeble voice about the daily editorial writing progamme. He died next morning, perhaps thinking what will happen to the country at a time when the economy was not doing well and the communal temperature was rising dangerously again.

That was Ramasamy. He was bothered about the well-being of the country more than his own. In fact, he was worried about everything going wrong except his own health. He could hardly walk from his bedroom to his kitchen or to his bathroom. But whenever we asked him how he was, pat came the reply, " I am perfectly alright." The truth, however, was that he could not live without medicine. His medicine consisted of his regular writing and the abundant will power to survive all odds.

Those like me who worked with him as his immediate juniors obviously know it more than his friends, well-wishers and admirers outside The Tribune family that Ramasamy was more than a journalist. He had grown into a man of ideas, towering over his contemporaries. Whenever we talked to him before beginning to write on an assigned topic, he was ready with some useful idea to be incorporated into that particular piece to enhance its appeal considerably.

Journalism was his 24-hour engagement, and he was fully aware of what was happening despite remaining confined to his house.

His failing health could not affect his mental capability. His mind was as sharp as ever, giving a lie to the conventional belief that a weak body possesses a weak mind. He had learnt how to handle the computer when he was unable to move out of his house owing to his breathing problem.

Ramasamy had a passion for promoting those of his juniors who he noticed had the germs of a true professional willing to work hard. His nursery was always full of budding journalists and writers. This rare avocation gave him an unusual feeling of satisfaction and immense strength to live a fully contented life. He belonged to the breed of journalists getting extinct.