I saw Pran for one final time today. When I first met him nearly 11 years ago in Thiruvananthapuram, he instantly had a great influence on me. But today, the aura was gone and the mood was dull.
I am in the software industry only because there was Pran. I used to write my thoughts on this very blog when suddenly one night I received an email from ‘Pran Kurup’. He said he enjoyed reading my blog and asked me what I was doing.
In two days, he wrote another email asking whether I had considered working in the hi-tech industry. Someone who completed a post graduation course in Physics and who was waiting to opt between higher studies and employment in banking sector, could never have even thought about working in the software industry, back in 2005. But he had his influence on me.
I came to Thiruvananthapuram to meet him, discussed several things, and ended up spending 5 hours in his office. He left an impression on me so positive and lasting that I wanted to work for him. Soon came the offer letter; my first. Pran was literally opening doors to a world that I had never imagined myself to be in.
I moved on from Vitalect, Pran’s company after a year. He had just one question for me, “Did you find the other company or the other company found you?”. He was so happy when I answered it was the second. It was not the end, but the beginning of a sweet relationship with him. Pran wrote good things about me on LinkedIn, which has been helpful in my career.
We used to be in good touch and he continued to have his influence on me. If he sees me online late at night, he would write an email asking me to take a break, something which he himself wouldn’t practise in life!
When he came to Thiruvananthapuram, he used to bring chocolates and write to me, even when I was not working for him. He would write to me on special occasions and festivals too. At times, I would get an email from him, with the content, “How is life treating you?”. In hindsight, perhaps he was the dominant player in our camaraderie.
He knew about my activities to solve the Netaji death mystery, and used to encourage me. He also knew that my long-term desire was to start my own business. He would write an email occasionally to me asking about the status of that dream. He would prod me by saying that the best time to start something new was your young age.
There are some interesting memories. Pran once gave me cooking tips to survive during my bachelor days. We used to discuss cricket, politics, history, and just about everything. Out of the blue, he once shared some details and asked me if I could add them to the Wikipedia article on Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir!
Why I write about all these here? Because although these may sound trivial, someone who knew how busy Pran otherwise was, would understand that it would take some dedicated effort for him to do all these to keep his contacts circle warm.
He continued to be an influence. Years later, in 2011, Pran happened to meet Vinod, CEO of the then company I was working for. Pran was junior to Vinod at IIT Kharagpur. As Pran was fully aware of my work history, he discussed with Vinod about me too.
When Vinod reached office, he called me up for a discussion and reminisced the good old times they spent at the IIT. Later, we would purchase Pran’s software for managing the training and certification of employees at that organisation. Thus indirectly, Pran upgraded my status from his report to his client in 5 years!
After Pran started to become actively involved in politics with his volunteering for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), he used to contact me for my thoughts and at times intuition, on the party’s chances in Kerala. For instance, he would ask me about the possibilities of AAP in the elections. I used to follow him everywhere on the internet, including his Pakora Korner blog and the Economic Times column.
I had created the Wikipedia page on Vitalect several years after I left the company. In a small attempt to keep his memory alive, I just created a Wikipedia page on Pran.
Today, when I stood still beside the freezer that contained Pran sans his magical charm, my mind was blank, except for heartfelt prayers that his good soul may find eternal peace. I thanked him, for whoever he was to me. He will continue to have his influence on me. But his physical presence will be terribly missed.