NEW DELHI: The world has become less fair now that it is no longer possible to drop in on Ram Jethmalani and seek his participation in one’s battles. There was never any question of Ram not being there, or his being anything other than ready to take on the rest of the world for the causes he believed in. After all, despite celebrating birthday after birthday, he was eternally young. There was never a moment when the sight or touch of a beautiful and caring woman failed to light up an already expressive countenance. What would men be without women to bring out the best in them? Ram never moved away from this truth, and throughout his life, was surrounded by beauty, both of the inner as well as the external variety. He liked and lived the life his brilliance in the law earned for him, and no doctor or saint could prevent him from reaching for that glass of scotch and sipping it, even when he was live on television. We, craven souls, hide away the glasses of liquor when the cameras come by, but not Ram. He was himself, and if you did not like what you saw, heard and experienced, well, too bad for you. Ram Jethmalani was not going to change, no matter whose favour he could have secured had he hidden away just a smidgen of the views that he had on certain people. Given such transparency and honesty, Ram had contempt for those who masked their feelings in ersatz friendliness. Never afraid to do battle openly, he was disgusted by those who talked friendship while secretly influencing a favourite journalist to write a negative story about the supposed friend, or retailing lies to those in high office, so that the latter became distant from those whom they ought to have brought close to themselves. Ram disliked human snakes, and showed it.
To those he loved, he was playful and supportive. To those he saw as harmful to the national interest, he was ruthless in his efforts at taking them down. There was no cause that Ram would not support, were he convinced of its need or if it were once brought to his attention by a friend. There was no foe whom he would not fight, no matter how powerful, if he regarded such opposition as his duty. The Jewish people say that there are only a few dozen righteous individuals in the world who are blessed by their qualities, and who keep Jehovah from annihilating the human race in disgust at the rest. Ram Jethmalani was among this tiny group endowed with giant qualities who kept the world filled with hope.
Ram was irreplaceable, Ram was my friend, beginning in the 1980s when we were introduced to each other by Ramakrishna Hegde at his Rajmahal Vilas Extension house in Bangalore. Words, whether spoken or written, are too puny to capture the electricity that Ram Jethmalani brought into any room fortunate enough to attract his interest, and it is not possible for me to say more about a force of nature in human form who always generated a glow around him for just being there, for just being himself.
Auf Wiedersehen, dearest friend and inspiration. Enter Valhalla, the abode of your fellow heroes.