Climbing trees, plucking mangoes, going to each other’s house in their native village Konetampettai. These are some of the memories that remain afresh in the mind of P. Subramani alias Chittamutti, the childhood friend of S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, fondly called as Mani in his village.

“We went around the village together. Mani’s mother Shakuntala, known as Chinnama, used to call me Chittamutti, and the entire village knows me by that name now. He was loved by everyone in the hamlet. He bore my daughter’s medical expenses,” recalls Mr. Subramani, who still lives at Konetampettai.

A pall of gloom descended upon Konetampettai, the native village of SPB’s mother. “He was from a Brahmin family and we are from the ST community. But his family was very close to us. We met him when he came to our village a few years ago,” says Jayamma, Mr. Subramani’s daughter-in-law.

The entire village recalls him as humble and friendly, and a person who never forgot his roots. “He used to ask about every detail of the hamlet. Our families are very close. There is no caste divide in our hamlet,” says Rajendra Prasad, who identified himself as SPB’s family friend.

He recalls that whenever villagers went to invite him to the hamlet for a function, he would ask what he should do for the village. “His last visit was in August 2018 and he helped build toilets for the school and a RO plant. He was punctual. The entire village is sad to have lost him. Many have been crying since Thursday night. We can never meet such a person,” he says.

A. Bhanumurthy, SPB’s cousin, says they were like Arjuna and Krishna. “The last time I spoke to him was on September 12. I asked him when he was getting discharged and he said he was feeling better,” he recalls. He says his cousin could never hurt anybody, even if it was his enemy. “He will mingle with everyone, right from the Prime Minister to an ordinary man.”

An ardent lover of cricket, tennis and reading, SPB was a keen observer too. “He was an authority in Telugu pronunciation. He could sing in any language. He had always showed the keenness and dedication of a student… He wanted to rebuild his house in the village and even approved the plan,” he adds.

His loss has left many speechless. “All the music lovers are in tears. We have lost a great person. Our village will miss him very much,” says Mr. Rajendra Prasad.

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