Tribute to a fabulous Human we had the privilege to call our Brother.

We drive off Commercial street (Bangalore, Peninsula India), 3 pm, mid a month’s Lockdown- the streets are clutter free, we are armed with ID and saying ‘Nice!’ through the pain of losing our precious brother Sam.

Yes, he would’ve approved. “No big church service, just like he’d want it. No suit…” quiet words from his sister Dr.Prema Dhanraj, her eyes misty with love. No sad song & masses of tears. No hyper-parade of bouquets. Just a clutch of family members, though masked, distanced….

Beloved brother

He was a Minimalist with blazing intellect & humor. He lived to love but his love was quiet, no frills. If you looked for a compliment he’d say, “Nice!” Or “Good” complete with dimpled chuckle that I cannot get out of my system and shouldn’t.

My eldest sis Thel (Sam’s wife) had a Bible that we all wrote in; she snuck this in his casket: its lid standing on Stone nearby had “I am with Jesus” on it, it stilled me. Still does.

With him, I was my unselfconscious self: was it only a few years ago, he and I mimicked a local street drunks’ brawl lasting not a few minutes? Recently his health got fragile, his shoulders had that tiny tremor, you wanted to hug him just a little longer but didn’t dare make him think you were worrying. He could read your head, know your ‘unnecessary‘ thoughts!

Sam wasn’t big on ceremonious religion but had this Respect for God, a thing you didn’t mess with. It was the way he lived, careful, caring, sensitive to detail. You didn’t hide things from God, if you needed an occasional peg you had it in His presence. I remember asking him for a taste of his cigarette, I was 21. He choked laughing then gave me one: “Try exhaling that, k?” That was fun. I’m rambling. Running from memories I want to chase away, but they’re larger than life now.

The last time we spoke (10 days ago?) was an accidental Group-Call my second sis Li made via our sisters’ WhatsApp ‘Mermaid’ Group, yes mermaids πŸ˜…, don’t forget we girls grew up on beaches, (once on a sand dune we’d daydreamed of being mermaids, hehe! The name stuck).

So Li called and Sam picks up phone instead of Thel. Li : “Now who’s this low voiced man on Mermaids saying, ‘Hellooooh!?’

He chatted generally and about how good he’d been eating the past week; Thel walks in,” Uh ohhhh? Sam’s on Group call with …who?”

T ‘s her bubbly self, “This is a first group call of this, Haha!”;

she & he had become one Entity with shared polarities; how good they were together with their 2 fabulous sons Anudh & Akash: a treat to watch the four of them – each maddeningly independent, ferociously loyal to the other…… oh brilliant even to detail of when to add chillie to sizzling roast, steak!

These five can do wonders in any kind of day. Ask me how I know. Pic, Goa holiday with their beautiful darling ‘Girl-Sam'(antha) daughter-in-law who deserves a whole other Post: she’s more Indian inside than Australian : the Stunner kind you think must have some secret flaw? You look for it but it isn’t there. Ay, marriages are made in heaven, the Samuels are living proof of that...

The last thing he said in individual byes to Li and me….. “Bye Rayla!” His voice strong and cheerful. “Bye Merman, Sam.” I replied.

Age 22?

Offstage while we waited for the next Event at a local Fund raiser…how can I forget his guitar doing the Beatle’s Crybabycry:

with no Lyrics, I worked my own non-word- stylized-gibberish. He called it Russian. We did this very seriously, Thel streaming tears down her cheeks hurting from laughter…


Thel & Sam’s gorgeous sisters: I could write reams about his three illustrious sibling, each serving Humanity like only they can: Bravehearts – brave now, as the Pastor wraps our small service in a Silence that somehow feels right. I cannot find a word good enough for it. Silence can be reverent gold. The sky rumbles for a second, gentle winds settle in the family tree under which the few of us huddle, forgetting Covid.

Death is where your sting, oh grave where your victory? Here we are immortal for the Love that binds us together across continents via Videocalls coming in and familial Love thicker than blood or the sadness of Now.

Like a tree planted by streams of living water

Next to him, in engraved marble- lies the Stone of his first son, the most beautiful baby boy I had ever seen. He lived 5 days. 36 years have gone by.

Now as they lower his daddy’s mortality into the same earth, there is this silence of a family held by things best described as Peace that surpasses human understanding.

Marriage turns strangers into family. Sisters in law become a beautiful kind of sister: we admire their eyelashe and feature not just exterior but deep within. It turns our lives around to learn from each other through the years. I write this realizing how much we’ve been blessed by Sam’s presence, nah entire families, cousins, nephews, nieces….wish this post could cover also friends that became family because of Sam.

What can one say but go back and forth.

I could never count well enough even at our Scrabble board fights. He a Chartered Accountant / Sultan of Sudoku non par would cheerfully shudder. “If you try to, y’know? Maths is basic. Idiots.” His grin included all non-mathy people with me + tolerant brotherly kindness lending a generous taste of what it was to ever have a brother.

He’s not here, no Thel?” I whisper. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

“No Ray.” Her voice is level.

Thankyou Thel for the photographs.

I draw strength from her, admiring her straight firm back and calm doe eyes. Sitting down somewhere among family Stones, I am unable to tear my eyes from the candles and flower petals all around, the air softening with dusk and with the Presence of Comfort; with the presence of each other softening from sorrow. Tomorrow we’d be able to take this. Maybe not. Tomorrow would have its share of challenges. New ones? I don’t know.

As we walk back past more names and dates and symbols of Love and Departure, we walk close. Life was/ is short. I want to love without barriers and protocol.

We move past high ornate stone gates; the Caretaker and wife watch their children play with a plastic bat and ball, all safe- distanced from each other.

Somewhere a koyal calls.

It will rain tonight. You loved it cool Sam, but you’re not here.

You’re with Jesus.

I’m jealous.

Saw some of this yesterday, enroute…


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53 thoughts on “Tribute to a fabulous Human we had the privilege to call our Brother.

    1. Just a few of us could gather mid social Distancing, masks…. the works. ThankyouπŸ™‚. Yes Bangalore is a beautiful city when she’s not over run by motor smoke. Funerals are allowed with a Ltd number of attendees and time limit. No church service, but the Pastor was there. Was quick n quiet. Ay we miss him. It’s an awful feeling if not for the fact of Eternity. Thank you so much for being here and for your kind words ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Your words Rayla easily conveyed the love you had and have for Sam and I almost felt like I knew him. I loved the β€œI’m with Jesus.” The hope that God’s gives us in His Son is a beautiful thing and His peace that passes all understanding is a gift that only He can give. You made me feel like I was there and it was beautiful. Give your sister a hug for me if you can and rejoice for we shall indeed all meet again. Blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ohhhh yes youd love him brother Bruce. What a precious thing that you felt you were there, in a time of Social Distancing that too. I will pass on your wishes, that’s so kind of you. Sometimes and more often I cant believe how a tiny blog piece, is ever read. God is good and connects hearts and homes in His own divine way. Yes, oneday we will be with Jesus, what a day that will be…..πŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That IS God. Thank you for asking. Most of the time, I feel so centered in God’s presence, possibly now more than ever. Then there are those times when anxiety washes over me- uninvited and almost inexplicably. Inspirational writers are blessing me (thank you). Take care of you and yours.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou for taking the time to reply Karen, and for your encouraging words. We each need each other and Him, yes. Else we’d be dry springs and not have the stamina to go on. Wishing you all the health and healing needed for body soul and mind. Huggggg

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so, so sorry 🌹 The memories you share seem so bittersweet; beautiful yet painfully sad. And it’s heartbreaking about his first son, though I’m glad they’re together side by side now. This is a wonderful tribute to a man that sounds fiercely warm and funny and smart.
    Sending love to you and your family Β β™₯

    Caz xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah yes, he … all that and much more. Words tumble out of us at such times. It’s gratitude and a wound that will heal at it’s own pace. More so for my sis and family, that need every prayer. Bless you for saying what you did. He ..all that and more. Am still trying to come to terms with this. Goodbyes can never be said. He will be closer now than ever before l guess. Thankyou.πŸ’œ


  3. Dear sister!

    My deepest condolences to you and all concerned .

    I had heard about the dopplegangers but the man with the white shirt in the picture where five of them are present looks exactly like I used to, some five years ago. Would you be kind enough to tell me who is the person .

    Wishing you and your family safe sojourn,


    Liked by 2 people

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