There are people who leave such an impression in us that their imprint always remains cherished. Mr. S as I would like to refer to him in this blog, was one such person. When I received the news that he is no more, the first reaction was one of being shell shocked. Then came the tears and then came memories which brought a smile on my face. A smile that wiped away the tears!! His wry sense of humour, his compassion, his ability to bring laughter wherever he is, is something that needs to be experienced. Looking back, for me he was more a mentor I could reach out to, if I needed any guidance.

My journey in an organization began on the same day as his (the only factor that was similar). I started as an executive while he was in a much higher role in the same department. Two situations that panned out almost two and half decades back remain etched in mind. In both the situations the way he helped me handle the situations, stay as a learning for me even today.

My role necessitated me to work with advertising agencies. The person I was interacting with at the advertising agency (Referred to as Mr. P, in this blog) was upset that we were not giving him the details that he needed for some work that he had to do for us. In his conversation with me and in an agitated state, he used the 4-letter swear word and I was scandalized to say the least (even now I am not able to bring myself to type it also :-(). I did not know whom to share on my agitated state of mind with. Finally I mustered the courage to share it with a colleague who shared it with Mr. S. A couple of days later, Mr. S asked me to explain the situation and after he heard it, he told me that he was going to call Mr. P to sort it out.

I was still piqued with Mr. P for having spoken to me like that and refused to even look at him when he came to our office. I was called by Mr. S to his cabin. With Mr. P too in the cabin Mr. S said, “Malathy, Mr. P refutes using the word with you. Only both of you know what happened. It is his word against yours. Sort it out now.”

All I needed was that encouraging statement. I was like a bull in a China shop. I knew that I was not fabricating a story of the word being said and that gave me more confidence. A few minutes later, Mr. P accepted that he used the 4-letter word in anger and tendered an apology. When Mr. P was about to leave, Mr. S told him to be careful of what he said and to whom it was said to. It was said in a tone that brooked no argument but with his trademark smile.

As I pen this blog, I am reminded of a quote that I read recently, ‘Class is knowing what to say, when to say it and when to stop.’

I was at a point in time in my life when I was torn between continuing in my job and calling it quits, due to a personal situation. When I had shared with Mr. S on this, he was aware that there were people who were offering suggestions to me to call it quits and handle the situation. I recall him requesting me not to take a decision in haste but to speak to his wife who was handling both her professional and personal roles for some years then. She was holding a key role in the organization where she was working. The few hours that she spent helping me to unwind, her sharing of her perspectives and experience of handling both her personal and professional roles, was really reassuring. It gave me the view that it is possible to work and yet handle the home front. The one thought that was dominating my mind was, “I am holding a much lower role in the organization as compared to him. I haven’t had much interaction with his wife. They are so helpful even then? Amazing people!!!” Though I had to take a call to call it quits from the organization, I chose to stay in touch with them in my own small way all through these years.

Till date both these situations remain evergreen in memory. It was only after I heard the news of Mr. S passing away and my own travel down the memory lane I realised, that unconsciously I have tried to emulate with others, what they have been to me – ‘Sharing, contributing and reaching out to support others when there is a need.”

This is my recounting of the way he has touched my life. I am sure he has touched many other lives through his compassionate contribution!!