Dr Sekhar Neelakantam
Shradhanjali by Prof Rajender Reddy
While there is no dearth of descriptions in the English vocabulary, no words can do justice-describing Sekhar. In simple terms, Sekhar can best be described as a Maven and a Mensch (In Yiddish-“ a good person”). He was benevolent, a great friend loyal to the deepest parts of our bones, fun loving, music connoisseur, and someone who placed his friendship above anything else.
Sekhar, while short in height, was a feisty individual. He had his hands in all aspects of our lives-loved to intimidate everyone in our class-they still loved him for it, fun in going around on his scooter, participating in entertainment activites amongst other endeavors, but ironically did not involve our educational pursuits. Some would describe him as a “ lathor”.
Sekhar came from a family that had roots in business. He made his family very proud by gaining admission into Medical School. He and his older brother, Ramesh, also in Medical School and a senior to us, were the apples of their family’s eyes. They were treated special given the elite status of being in Medical School. While we all have affectionate families, his family was special. Sekhar’s house was the pivot for all activities. At least once every week, we would gather there for activities of going to movies, the restaurants, or to listen to music (he has just bought a tape recorder and the first among my group of friends then). His family always welcomed us into his house with an “ au beta” or “bidda lopakiliki ra”. There was always plenty of food for us while his family itself was large. Bakul who lived a couple of doors from him can perhaps relate best.
I got to know Sekhar even better after he moved to the Bahamas. My family, including our two kids then, and I have vivid and nice memories. His death was tragic and our lives have a void that is hard to grasp and live with.
I still have music made by him from the 70s and 80s and listen to it on occasion-makes me shed a tear or two while rejoicing in our times together.
Sekhar-all your friends and family mourn your loss to this day.
At times, we feel cheated by you leaving us.
The quote by John Bunyan best epitomizes Sekhar’s philosophy in life.
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
(Sekhar and me in Montego Bay 1977)
My first encounter with Sekhar was on the second day of starting Medical School. Either he or I were following each other near Badi Chawadi Police Station, when Sekhar asked me whether I was going to the medical college, to which I said yes! That was it, the beginning of a long lasting friendship in the Medical School.
Anyone who knew Sekhar will tell outwardly he was naughty, played pranks, teased the classmates, but beneath that exterior, he was the kindest loving soul I have known.
I became a permanent pillion rider on Sekhar’s scooter and the gang (Mike, Sekhar, me, Rajender, Mohan, Girish , Razvi, Amrith and Prasad) went around everywhere.
Sekhar was spontaneous in decision making with bizarre consequences – for example the gang decided to go on an impromptu picnic to either Gandipet or Nagarjun Sagar following Sekhar’s suggestion. We came back and found out that the rest of classmates had to undergo a tough biochemistry test which we conveniently missed!!
He was full of life and wanted to see everyone happy and was very much loved by our families.
Sekhar made a great impact when he went to work in St Vincent islands followed by coming to work in Kingston, Jamaica as an anaesthetist. Both of us passed the Diploma in Anaesthetics from the University of West Indies.
Sekhar, always an entertainer would bring his music, drinks and plenty of food from Kingston to Montego bay, where we used to have a weekend of Taash and entertainment.
Sekhar as colleagues will recollect was the best dressed in the class with his silk shirts, huge bell bottoms and platform shoes, which all of us wanted to imitate!
After leaving Jamaica, Sekhar went on to work in Bahamas, where once again he was the centre of attraction within the Indian diaspora and the locals.
After his stint in Bahamas, Sekhar came back to Hyderabad and met the most unfortunate untimely death.
He has been a sad loss and has left a gap in our lives.
May he rest in peace!
Shradhanjali by Yadagiri Chary
I would like to share my feelings about another departed friend Shekhar.
What a person he was! Flamboyant,naughty,witty, and what not. His belly full laughter still rings in my ears.
He came from a business family and was well off but still down to earth. He was in the company of Mike, Bakul,Girish, Rajender, Razvi and Mohan Reddy.
Playing pranks, teasing classmates, it was always fun and some activity surrounding him His “Gilli Danda” game at Nizamsagar picnic was the highlight.. Never a dull moment.
After graduation he went to West Indies and became an anesthesiologist. I lost touch with him during those years.
After coming to India, my last meeting with him was in a Chinese hotel at Basheerbagh. Sambaiah came from USA and he called for the meeting as he was waiting to board a bus to Guntur that night. I was in best of the moods and was entertaining both of them with my jokes and anectodes. He was laughing and laughing till midnight. In the melee Sambaiah missed his bus. He accomodated him in his hotel at Abids for that night..
I left the place assuring both of them that we will be meeting again, which never happened.
Few days/months later I recieved the information that Shekhar died in a ghastly accident as he was coming to city from Mahboobnagar and Amritlal who was with him was seriously injured and in coma, admitted in OGH..
Both, I believe went to perform some surgery at Mehboobnagar and on their way back, the tragedy struck. I was shaken beyond anybody’s imagination with the tragic news.
I later came to know that he was planning to get married to a colleague from West Indies and everything was going according to he plan. She was supposed to be visiting shortly before the accident.
His loss left a big void amongst us and difficult to fill. He always had a special place for me
Luckily Amrithlal recovered in course of time.
May his soul rest in peace..
Shradhanjali by Dr Janardhan Reddy
Neelakantam Sekhar, long in name only
Short, feisty, loyal and friendly
Music connoisseur, party animal
Intimidating, fun loving and jovial
His home – ‘adda’ and focal point for all of us His mom made sure – plenty of food always
Business family background
Educational careers, very few pursued
Only him and his brother in MBBS
Royal princes and apples of family’s eyes
Movies, restaurants, picnic parties
His tape recorder – first among our friends
Had more time with him – in Bahamas
My family enjoyed his frequent visits
His tragic demise, great loss
Left a big void in our hearts
Get tears when I listen to his tapes
Perhaps, God needed his company more than us!