A good samaritan

NISHA MOHOTA dedicates her WGM title to a man about whom she knew nothing till two years ago. Kumar Ramachandran, a software professional in his 40s, didn't know much about Nisha either until he read a small paragraph about her in The Hindu one September morning in 2001.

That newspaper report not only helped Nisha considerably in her efforts to become a WGM, but it also convinced her that some good souls live on earth. She is filled with gratitude when she tells about Kumar Ramachandran's extraordinary act of kindness.

It would be better if we hear the story straight from Nisha's mouth, or heart:

"One morning, while I was staying at my friend Natarajan's house in Chennai, I got a phone call from Swati Ghate, my friend, colleague and teammate in the Indian team. She told me that one gentleman had called up at Hotel Taj Connemara, where the other Indian players were staying after the Asian women's championship, and asked about me. She said that man wanted me to contact him.

"I thought Swati was trying to fool me; we always do that to each other, you know. I dialled that number, however, and spoke to the gentleman in question. He told me his name and that he was a software professional. He said he had read a report in The Hindu that morning.

"It was about the Indian players who had qualified for the World championship from the Asian meet, which concluded the previous day. I was among the qualifiers for the World championship to be held in Moscow later that year. I had said in the report that a notebook computer would have been useful. In Chennai I had borrowed laptops from Swati and Bhagyashree and found working on them extremely useful. I couldn't have afforded one myself.

"He said he wanted to meet me that day at a restaurant in Chennai. I agreed. Since I had never seen him before, he told me how he looked like and what he was going to wear for our meeting. And he told me why he wanted to meet me.

"I was shocked. This man who knew nothing about me or chess told me that he wanted to loan his personal laptop. And he wasn't an industrialist. And he wasn't doing it for publicity.

I never thought such good people existed in this world.

"So we met and I asked him if he was sure of what he was going to do, giving something so expensive to a perfect stranger. He said he was. He insisted I take his laptop.

"I agreed and I began to work with it. I soon found out how my workload had decreased drastically. I took it to Moscow for the World championship and there I did better than all my teammates. You may recall that I was the only Indian woman to make it to the second round.

"He had loaned his laptop for six months. So I wanted to return it. But he asked me to keep it for another six months. For, I was trying to make the two norms I needed to complete the WGM title.

I could not get my title so quickly. But he wanted me to use his laptop till I became a WGM. Now that I have completed my title, I have to give it back to him. In a way I owe my WGM title to him; it wouldn't have been possible for me to get it so fast without his kind gesture. I made my second and third norms after I got this laptop. I also want to thank The Hindu and Arvind Aaron, who wrote that little paragraph about me."