(3 August 1946 – 25 October 2022)
A loving and faithful friend
My oldest and dearest friend, Prem Poornima, left her body last week in South Africa. Although we all knew that she was battling cancer, the end was unexpectedly swift. The words ‘vital’, ’vibrant’ and ‘intelligently beautiful’ best describe her. In fact, so attractive was she that Cliff Richard, on one of his trips to SA, spent time with her and dedicated his song ‘Theme for a Dream’ to her! I love that story!
We first met at university in South Africa in 1963 and we both worked on many projects and played (in the South African sun) together. After graduating we travelled to the UK and then hitchhiked round Europe on the obligatory ‘Grand Tour’. Our paths then followed a pattern of separating to live our lives and then meeting again – in various parts of the world!
While still at university us two friends had fallen in love with another set of friends: her with Tommy Bedford (rugby fans will know him as captain of the Springboks team) and me with Keith Kinsella, also a top rugby player (later played for Canada) and chairman of Natal University. As the years passed, they were also part of the meeting and leaving dance and we are still in touch today, nearly 60 years later, which I think is rather wonderful considering how much we all did and where we all travelled. But maybe those are the reasons we did often connect – always something new and interesting to report!
When she was 6 months pregnant, Poornima courageously decided to come with me to India to meet Osho in 1972. He gave her the name: Ma Prem Poornima. With Osho we went to the Mount Abu camp in 1972 – it was a very special time. On our return to Mumbai, she was feeling a bit tired so she decided to go First Class on the train and ended up sitting and chatting with Osho and Nirvano in their compartment – which made me very jealous as I was ensconced on one of those wooden luggage racks (remember them?) in Third Class.
I stayed in India but she returned to South Africa to bring up her son, Sy. She did, however, make many trips to Pune (where we met) and spent 6 months with Sy in Rajneeshpuram, where he took sannyas.
I last saw my friend during a trip to India in 2006 when we rented Dhiren’s flat in Out of Africa. In 2008 I went to China and continued to visit there over the next 12 years. Poornima strongly disapproved of my love for China (and said so, loudly!) so communications faltered a little. But, once we were both marooned at home during the Covid pandemic, and she was diagnosed with cancer, we emailed and skyped frequently, more so in the past year.
She was a loving and faithful friend and played a huge part in my life. I will miss her dearly.
You can leave a message / tribute / anecdote by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org (pls add ‘Poornima’ in the subject field).