The closing session of the Seoul convention was made memorable of course by great speeches from the top Rotary leadership, including R I President K R Ravindran’s re-living his trauma as an 11-year-old child when he watched his almost paralysed mother being taken to the hospital struggling for every breath, until the ventilator arranged by a group of Rotarians was flown into Colombo.
This was almost a kind of farewell speech because he will not be addressing any large Rotary gatherings till his term ends in June. But the delegates, many of whom were wiping their tears, had another treat in store. As the Ravindrans stood on the stage acknowledging the prolonged applause, their little 18-month- old granddaughter Raika, who was playing by herself in the front row, spotted her beloved grandpa on the stage. She did not care this was the President of RI at his moment of glory in front of an adulatory audience. Unnoticed by her parents, she quietly made her way to the front of the stage and began climbing the steps, calling out ‘Pa’ to Ravindran. Noticing this, Ravindran hastily walked down to meet her, scooped her up in his arms, and carried her back to the stage, even as the applauding delegates were on their feet. To many this was the most endearing moment of the conference. “It was such a beautiful moment, so natural … of course such things can’t be rehearsed. The music was outstanding. I’ve attended some 40-odd Conventions, but this was one of the most dignified closing sessions, said a past RI President.