The Gods did love him. And they have called him to be with them.
Raja Seetharaman died on Wednesday night.
And we have lost a young man who worked tirelessly for this city.
He died in an accident on the premises of the Mambalam railway station. And when the news trickled to us from the GH mortuary on Thursday morning, all of us who worked closely with him went numb.
I did too.
On Sunday we had met at the formal release of the first part of a three-volume gazetteer on 400 years of Madras that is Chennai produced by the Association of British Scholars in India, a finale to the Madras Day celebrations. And we had chatted for long over coffee - on how we could, in 2009, take to north Madras an exhibition that he and colleague D. H. Rao had put together at the Rajaji Hall in the Government Estates this year.
Raja was his buoyant self that evening. He was dead three days later.
He had invited me to his splendid house in Chintadripet (chinna tari pettai) on many occasions and here I was at his place to attend his funeral. In a heritage house which had also been a stop for people who had taken part in the Walking Tour of Chintadripet that V. Sriram had conducted for Madras Day 2008. Hardly a fortnight ago.
On Thursday, Iyyah Mudali Street was for mourners.
Raja was a passionate collector of coins, postage materials and wedding invitations.
But he rarely showed off his collection.
Instead, he was a tireless worker and organiser. The sort of man who went many extra miles to ensure that a show on the city's history/heritage was a good one.
He was on stage at Rajaji Hall a fortnight ago, launching that exhibition for Madras Day and rewarding us with a special postal cover he and Rao had helped to bring out.
We will miss Raja.
But all of us who work in small ways for this city hope to do some thing in his memory.
I wish our city-based newspapers would recognise men and women like Raja.
They rarely do.
When I suggested to a reporter of 'The Hindu' that a tribute be published, I was told that since Raja was not a celebrity his editors would not buy the story.
Our media does not believe in celebrating our own people. People who go out of their way to contribute to this city.
It is busy chasing celebrities at nightclubs and hotels.
And this attitude is a real shame.
Tributes to men and women of substance, of our city are a must. I hope our newspapers and our community recognise this.