Ejji K Umamahesh was a sparkplug. That's not a description you'll find in an obituary published in the media usually, but there seems to be no other adjective most suited for Ejji, who passed away a day before his 72nd birthday in Chennai on Friday. It wasn't a surprise, Ejji knew that he was going in for a high risk heart surgery and that there was a 10% chance that he wouldn't make it. Though he had written the obituaries before itself, he left the notices with the family to put them up in case the surgery is not successful- one obituary for the newspapers and one for Facebook.
"Lived on his own terms as a Religionless Citizen of the World on Village Earth," begins the obit in the paper, below a photo of Ejji sporting shades. Congenital Sybarite, Recycled Teenager, Rat-Race Runner (Retd.), Whole time Househusband & Homemaker, Compulsive Party Host, Theater & Movie Actor, International Car Rally Driver & Organiser, Rationalist, Humanist, Athiesit, Free Thinkeer, Past Rotatrian, and so on go the titles by which Ejji would like to be remembered by the world.
A former car rally driver, Ejji was Former Deputy Secretary, Formula One, Indian Grand Prix at Buddh International Circuit. A man who loved cars and racing, for his Facebook friends, he had an obituary that describes him in terms of a vintage vehicle.
"I regret to inform you that my vintage vehicle that was being restored, in spite of the best mechanics in India with mastery over their craft, modern tools and expertise at their command, did all they could to revive it, but unfortunately did not succeed. The engine gasket blew, the engine housing cracked, the pistons seized, and the old jalopy is now ready to be scrapped. Luckily a few parts that have survived destruction will be donated to other similar vintage vehicle owners who can put them to good use in their own machine," he wrote.
And indeed, the Ejji family has confirmed that he donated all his usable organs and body parts for transplantation. The rest of him has been donated for anatomical demonstration and research purposes.
Summing up his life, which he lived with no regrets, he added, "Must say that for the most inhospitable terrains around the world that I drove it for 72 years, guzzling 'fuel' of all sorts, adding additives that defy description and logic, surviving desert temperature highs, to colds that can freeze the balls of a brass monkey, it has served truly well. It surely will be remembered. Thank you. (An official announcement about the scrapping of the vintage machine will be released in the press soon.)"
In a parting note, addressed to his dear friends, enemies and those in-between, he wrote, "Thanks for sharing my exciting life. My party is over, and I hope there is no hangover for those I leave behind. Time is running out for everyone. Live well, enjoy your life, and continue the party."
Ejji with his wife Shyamala, and daughters Rasika and Sarika.
In an old blog post, Ejji, who was clearly fond of writing about himself in the third person, gave an account of his life at 65. He recalled how he'd begun his career as a toilet supervisor at Safire Theatre in Chennai, went on to become a businessman and finally quit the rat race to follow his heart and do exactly what he wanted to do. Describing his diet, he wrote: 'Ejji is an “omnivore”. He eats and drinks anything under the sun. Exotic food is his specialty.'
He also wrote about his family, the dear people who sportively published his obituaries the way he wished.
"Ejji married Shyamala in 1975 at a non-religious function at a total expense of Rs60-00! He is an ardent advocate of such unostentatious weddings. Needless to say Ejji has no religion, is an atheist and an agnostic. They have two daughters Rasika (born 1976) and Sarika (born 1978), who call their parents by first name," he wrote in the blog.
Ejji's daughters Rasika and Sarika told TNM that they remember their father as, "A man who lived life to the fullest and by his motto, “Live! Don’t exist.” Ejji's newspaper obituary ends on this note too.
We will leave you with an interview which Ejji had earlier shared on his Facebook wall. In his interview to The Hindu MetroPlus, Ejji rightly says, "Skill is not just about repairing an aircraft. It is also about making a parotta."