Sunday, June 29, 2008


If, as they say, those that the gods love die young, then Vinay Chakravarthy must surely be amongst the ones that have an abundance of celestial grace.

In the few months that I have been living in NY, very few lives have touched me as deeply as that of this 29-year-old, who died in Boston earlier this week, after having looked death smilingly in the eye for nearly two years and never blinked.

I am deeply touched by the fact that mine was the last newspaper report on Vinay, and that despite his agonising last moments, he personally acknowledged it.

I first heard about Vinay from a doctor friend: about the young doctor's fight against his leukemia and his herculean effort to stay alive, his never-say-die spirit and how his story inspired thousands of fellow Indians to enrol for the US National Bone Marrow Registry so that, in future, those like him would be able to find bone marrow donors.

Before Vinay, there had also been young Sameer Bhatia and so closely were the stories and destinies of these two men intertwined that they became, to all intents and purposes, blood brothers.

Though Sameer had died only a few weeks before I arrived in the US, I was able to talk to his father, Kumar Bhatia and got to know more about his son's last moments. It also came as a pleasant surprise that the Chakravarthys were from my part of the world: Vinay's father, Parthasarathy, switched over to Tamil as soon as I introduced myself.

Throughout their darkest moments, neither Sameer nor Vinay stopped smiling or being cheerful.
Even after bone-crunching chemotherapy sessions, the families remembered the men never complained nor crumpled up. And they left records of their own lives in their blogs.

As for the Chakravarthy family, to simply say I share in their sorrow is not enough. I have a standing invitation from the family to come and visit their beautiful Californian home anytime I feel like it. I wish I could have gone when Vinay was still alive.

To Rashmi, his beautiful young wife, who held her husband's hand as he quietly slipped into death and to his parents who remained optimistic and cheerful even as they saw their son slowly sink, and to the thousands of his friends who will now carry on his work, Vinay will now be more alive than ever.

Vinay and Rashmi in the days before the leukemia struck and the couple, much later, together again in Vinay's sick ward. All photographs are courtesy Seshu Photography.