Professor VM Shamraj was our sports Professor at Osmania Engineering College - our go to for all sportsmen at college. He taught in the Mechanical Engineering department (which was replete with cricketing talent in its faculty - with Professor Rammurthy also being part of that department). Prof Shamraj played football at state level, won All India football Universities in 1959 for Osmania (not replicated again since then), played cricket and tennis for the University. Professor Rammurthy played cricket for Andhra and Orissa in his time. Professor Shamraj was very active and most helpful all through those years.
He was the one who I first met, thanks to Chakkar, who took me to him after my father passed away, saying he will tell you how to apply in sports quota. Prof Shamraj was very helpful, he told me to get my certificates changed to not just about representation but about my strong point - being on winning teams. That always stayed with me. He was on the committee that interviewed me for the engineering seat and he was the only one who asked me questions on cricket. Later he became my mentor and guide for all sports and academic related issue sin college. When we launched '50 Not Out' in Hyderabad, I made sure that Pavan went and picked him up and got him to the launch. He was frail but he enjoyed the outing!
|Sunil, Shamraj saab and Me|
While writing my new novel based on my years at the University I realised the part Professor Shamraj had played in my growth and tried to call him on the number I had. It didn't work so I got his number from his daughter Sharmila who was my senior at the MBA college and rang him up. He was happy to hear from me and invited me over when I told him he featured in my book. I could not meet him then and he was not well so it took almost a month to finally meet him.
I took Sunil Jyoti along, another sportsman whom Professor Shamraj knew, and we met him. He was lying in bed and recollected a lot of our old memories - he commented on my bowling, what Uncle Jai would say about me, some trips we had made and matches we played together for MCC. We spent a good part of the hour with him, took a few pics and returned.
|Prof Shamraj and Me|
It was good to see the twinkle in his eye, hear the warmth in his voice as he said 'How are you re' just as he would all those years ago. I'll add to this post as I go by because there is much to write about him but suffice to say now that it was so nice to catch up with him and laugh at the old days and rue the fact that 'those days will never come again'.
Get well soon Shamraj saab. We need you at the book launch!
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