(Or, on his transformation into a butterfly that has taken wings)

I vividly recall, in St. Joseph’s Boys School, some five decades ago
Actually in the library, first crossing paths with Joy, our very shy hero.

Into our school world, in 7th grade, did he first burst out in a blaze
Thanks to Fr. Peter Pinto and a non-traditional heat transfer problem
“Oh, ‘twas thanks to falling over and hitting my head, I was in a daze!”
He’d recount later, with a chuckle, about that first moment of stardom. 

When he parachuted onto the national scene, cracking that silly JEE
Those dudes at Agrawal’s were, no doubt, jumping up & down in glee!
The rest of us looked on in awe, best described by Oliver Goldsmith:
“And still they gaz'd and still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all he knew."
Fortunately, in his footsteps, I was also able to head to IIT, forthwith. 

It was, however, at Stanford, that I truly dug into Joy’s humanity
Where, with his trademark smile (no hug!),  he welcomed me at SFO
Our journey together continued till we scored a memorable twenty
At his & Ajit’s home we’d all party, solving the world’s problems, all aglow!

Together we grew up. Inspired by Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate
We even exchanged email, laboriously writing some brilliant doggerel
Understanding ourselves & the world; who cared about the doctoral? 
Many hours, many cups of coffee, tea, and cheap wine, raging debate. 

When my world changed, when I decided to but marry
None other than my dear wife, Surekha, aka Dolly.
Joining me in NYC was Joy, there to welcome and smother
And, like for so many others, become her (elder) brother.
Tsukuba, Japan, January, 1994 
(Photo credit: Surekha Akella)
Us good friends, shadchans, tore our hair in despair,
Till Priya arrived in Joy’s life, like a breath of fresh air
It took a while for Joshua to arrive, a bundle to enjoy
Joined by Leah. To be doted on by our very own Joy.
A trotting they would go, from Antarctica to Turkey
The quirkier the place, the happier; this crew all perky!

As I sit here, think of my friend, look back on the years, and sadly bid “Adieu!”
So many thoughts flash past my inner eye. Dr. Gizmo. Paparazzi. Generous. Gentle. 
Unassuming. Vulnerable. Curious. True friend. Doting spouse. Proud father. Phew!

Like a comet, you briefly blazed across the firmament
All the lives that you have touched, your living testament.
Acts 20:35: “… we must remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Revelation 2:26-28:… “To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end … I will also give the morning star.””


My parents, Prof. and Mrs. A. K. Rao, were the chief guests at our 10th standard graduation ceremony at St. Joseph’s Boys High School. Here you see my mother, Krishna Kumari Akella, pinning the graduation lapel on Joy’s blazer. (Photo credit: Joy’s photo collection; circa Dec 1977)
Prasad’s recollections for the JTF launch in 2022
Nita Goyal’s recollections for the JTF launch in 2022
Carefree times, Stanford, circa 1987

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