In memory of an exceptional mentor

'A few months ago, when I heard that R.Mukund, the Hon. Secretary of my club, Grand Prix CC, was terminally ill, I reckoned it was time to muster all the strength and courage to face the inevitable. But, when the dreaded call came, informing me of his demise, I was absolutely gutted'

R. Mukund, WV Raman's mentor, Grand Prix CC

R.Mukund, Hon. Secretary of Grand Prix CC, passed away recently.   -  Special Arrangement

As a kid, the biggest thrill I got was by standing at the seashore and feeling the waves pound my feet. I would prepare myself for that experience. I would dig my heels in firmly and tell myself to be calm. Despite that, as the waves struck my feet, the sheer force of the waves would leave me quite unsettled.

A few months ago, when I heard that R.Mukund, the Hon. Secretary of my club, Grand Prix CC, was terminally ill, I reckoned it was time to muster all the strength and courage to face the inevitable. But, when the dreaded call came, informing me of his demise, I was absolutely gutted. For he was not just another acquaintance of mine, but someone who played a major role in shaping my cricket and as an extension, my life.

I met Mukund in the summer of 1978 (I was 13 years old then) when I signed up to play for Grand Prix CC in the TNCA league. Incidentally, it was from there my good friend, L. Sivaramakrishnan, started his cricket journey as well. At that time, it was beyond me to comprehend Mukund’s commitment and selfless service to cricket. But, with passage of time, it dawned on me that he was peerless.

Imagine getting a plot of residential property in a prime locality for a group of youngsters to practice, organizing nets where all got equal opportunities and running a league team without any corporate support.

Phew! Playing cricket was easier.

He would conduct the nets very systematically and there was no scope for any messing about. Yet, once it was over, he will don the role of a mother hen. He would force us to leave our bicycles and go back home by bus once the darkness set in. Of course, he will fish out the change for the bus fare too.

When LS and I made it to the Indian team, he felt immensely proud, but that’s where it stopped. By that I mean Mukund never ever asked for any favour from either of us! Definitely, Mukund was a divine creature. In fact, in his mind we both never got out of our early teens at all. He fussed over us when we were in our 40's the same way he did when we were in our mid teens.

A decade ago, I met him one evening and he asked me casually, “Heard you are playing for X team in the league this year”? I replied equally casually, “Get me the form, Mukund, let me sign it”. With a broad grin, he whisked the form out of his pocket and I signed once again to play for Grand Prix.

Mukund was an exceptional mentor, an extremely dutiful son, a devoted husband and a great father — a very rare complete package indeed. He epitomised what passion for cricket was all about because he served for decades without expecting anything in return. I would go to the extent of saying that I have not come across a “total giver” like Mukund thus far.

So long, Mukund. Having had the blessing of knowing you, I am sure that as and when I get there, you will have a 22-yard strip ready for me to either roll my arm over or have a hit. But for now, the lump is still there in my throat. May your soul rest in peace, great man.

(Former India cricketer W.V. Raman's tribute to his mentor R. Mukund)