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Everyone who has worked in the ANI newsroom at any point till now has the memory burned into their brain of an impeccably dressed gentleman slowly making his way from desk to desk, talking to editors and journalists and quite often seen having a good laugh over an interesting quip the person shared.
The person we talk about here is the Editor-in-chief, News, ANI Mr. Ramamohan Rao, who is no longer with us. The news of Mr. Rao's demise came as a shocker, especially to those who shared a close bond with him.
Everyone was aware of the deteriorating state of his health, but when the news of his demise slowly began to spread across the newsroom on Saturday morning, several of us at the Print desk turned in our seats to simply look at each other; probably, trying to convey and share the sense of an immense loss.
A perpetual smile, silvery hair, adorable and stylish suspenders and a trademark scarf are all how we still Rao sir as.
Many of us, who were still trying to break into the new atmosphere of ANI, were immediately put to ease by Rao sir, who would casually walk up to us and chat us up.
The most common memory that we, the Print desk, have of Rao sir is him being a "Santa Claus" for us.
Disregarding the fact that we were adults, he would always stuff our fists with an assortment of candies everyday and then proceed to ask us what story we were working on. For five minutes a day, we felt like small children in a bustling, noisy newsroom.
What stood out the most about him was how unbelievably humble he was. Everybody knew who he was. Everyone knew his accomplishments. And most importantly, everyone knew he was the father of ANI Editor, News Smita Prakash. But somehow, he managed to just be a senior in the office trying to help out the youngsters, without letting others get intimidated by his glorious past.
We also fondly remember him talking to us about his days with former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
"I really liked him. You will probably never see someone like him ever again. I was lucky," Rao sir would often say.
The wealth of knowledge he had regarding India's political history, especially when it was at its budding stage would leave most of us hanging on to every word he said.
Eyes turn moist, as we look over our computers and across the room to his office's door. He will now never walk out of those corridors again and strike up a conversation or simply stuff our fists with candy.
Rao sir was our inspiration, and sheer sunshine amid the daily chaos in the newsroom, and while it is going to take a long time, really long, for it to actually sink in, we, his students and children at ANI, will miss him beyond words and expression.
Even as we all remember him with the fondest memories, here are few of the many messages from those who could express what he meant to us. Others, who couldn't and didn't, share a similar sentiment, we are sure:
"In Rao Sir's passing, I have lost a person who acted as my guide & compass. A person who held my hand with understanding & caring. It is hard for me to put in words or to say anything more...."
"Once I pouted after he forgot to give me my regular dose of candy. Next day he gave me an entire bag of caramels! My first friend in ANI...it is yet to sink in that I will never see him again."
"A man of humility... Rao Sir's demise is a huge loss to Indian information service fraternity. May his soul rest in peace."
"He was always helpful to youngsters and motivated each and every one of us to strive for accuracy and facts while writing news items. His guidance was invaluable to each and every one of us. Will dearly miss his smiling face in the ANI newsroom."
"Age no bar, when it comes to passion for work, Rao sir was the perfect example for that. He has been an inspiration for us.
May his soul rest in peace."
"From my experience with Rao sir, I can say that he was a vibrant personality, full of life. He took keen interest in checking stories even in spite of his ill health and was very engaging. Will miss the effervescence."
"Even though we will never see you again, you will forever be in our thoughts. Rao sir you will be missed dearly,"
"Rao sir was a man full of life. He always encouraged youngsters and motivated us to do better. Till his last breath he was passionate about his work. He will be deeply missed."
"My memories of Rao sir is of a person who believed in the abilities of people working under him."
"Nobody can fill the void after the passing away of our beloved Rao Sir, whom I adored more so because he resembled my grandfather who passed away a few years back. We love you Rao sir."
"A warm and affectionate human being who was a role model for any budding journalist. His amazing work experience and his unique anecdotes were a treasure trove."
"Rao sir will always be remembered as the warmest mentor, guide and friend. He had a charisma like no other with an every shinning smile on his face. I personally had many fond memories with him. Can never forget the way he use to specially come and meet whenever in office inquiring about work. And always compliment me. His loss can never be filled by anyone else. May his soul rest in peace."
"He would always listen and try his best to help us out. Never ever saw him angry or screaming at anyone."
"The man with well gelled hair and his love for suspenders. The man if not seen could be recognised by his husky voice. His ideas towards life with a sprinkle of humour. His love for words and seeking perfection. You will be dearly missed. Rest In Peace Rao sir.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)