On June 14, 2021, we lost a jewel of a human being. His name, VK Harindran, would probably not ring a bell even for the large number of people – in Bangalore and elsewhere – who are in mourning this week. But Hari, as he was commonly and affectionately known, had a special place in the hearts of anyone who had the good fortune to have known him. What was it about Hari that made him so special? Was it the fact that he was a low-key pioneer in the fast-track field of information technology, a successful entrepreneur associated with a number of companies such as ProcSys (of which he was Chairman and CEO), PSI Data Systems and Peninsula Electronics?
Was it his illustrious lineage, with both his parents having been prominent in politics, especially in Kerala? His mother was Leela Damodara Menon, who had two innings as a member of the Kerala Legislative Assembly and was later also a member of the Rajya Sabha. His father, KA Damodara Menon, was a journalist (an early editor of Mathrubhumi) and author, besides being a freedom fighter and serving in the Provincial Parliament and the Lok Sabha in the 1950s before becoming an MLA and Minister in Kerala in the 1960s.
Was it the fact that Hari was married to a high-profile woman, Nandana Reddy – trade unionist, social and political activist, civil liberties and child rights advocate, and co-founder of the Concerned for Working Children (a non-profit organisation which Hari also supported and served as a member of the Governing Board)?
Was it that he was the male equivalent of the hostess with the mostest: warm and welcoming, generous and hospitable, enthusiastically presiding over virtually daily gatherings of friends and family, not to mention the much-awaited annual Onam sadhyas, in the open house that was their home?
All these aspects of his life no doubt contributed to his personality and popularity, along with many others: his devotion to tennis and golf, his piano flourishes, his culinary experiments, his resemblance to legendary singer Yesudas (or vice versa, as he put it!), his wicked sense of humour and irrepressible joie de vivre.
But to me, what made Hari truly special was the rare human being he was: genuinely good, incurably sweet. It was as if every cell in his body was brimming with happiness, kindness, love and affection. That body is now gone, but his spirit remains – somewhere over the rainbow.