Amongst the millions who watched Michael Jackson's funeral in far away Los Angeles was the grief stricken Ramesh family here -- a tearful M V Ramesh, who was the pop icon's personal driver, and his eight-year-old son Tanuj who held tightly on to the toys gifted to him by music world's ultimate star.
Ramesh, 38, was one of Jackson's three personal drivers when he lived in Bahrain for a year from 2005 till 2006. He drove Jackson's 2006 model Rolls Royce.
"He was really nice and so friendly with all of us. He told me that I could be free with him and could share our joys and sorrows with him," Ramesh said from his home in this Kerala town, about 500 km from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram.
"Jackson's three children, Prince, Paris and Blanket, also lived with him," he recalled fondly.
Remembering the job interview before he was taken on, Ramesh said he was questioned by Jackson himself as well as his secretary and manager in March 2006. He stayed on in the job till Jackson and his family left Bahrain by the end of the same year.
The link with showbiz's brightest and most mercurial star did not break even after that.
"Even after he left Bahrain, he called me twice. The last call came when he wished me Happy New Year in 2007," said Ramesh, who now works as a shopkeeper in Bahrain and is home on leave.
Tuesday night was tough for Ramesh. The family gathered around the television set to bid adieu to the former boss, who was revered as much as he was reviled, as his funeral was broadcast alive to millions around the world.
"My son Tanuj was holding a few toys that Jackson gave me for him just before he left Bahrain. All of us watched TV and we were sad. I can't believe he is no more," Ramesh said, remembering how the strange star covered his face every time he stepped out with his children.
With MJ, as he was called, no more, Ramesh's image of the man is not the much written about music genius as much in the news for his songs as his eccentricities but the kind boss who gifted toy cars and dolls to the children of his employees.