Though 24-year-old MIT graduate student Bhuwan Singh was brilliant, his first love was not science but people. His role model was not Einstein, but Mother Theresa, his father said at Monday's standing-room-only memorial service attended by some 300 people in La Sala de Puerto Rico.
The speakers -- who included Singh's brother, sister, girlfriend, housemaster, and friend after friend -- shared stories about his selflessness, generosity, humor and leadership.
"If kindness were a religion, he spread it with unshakeable conviction. If happiness were a faith, he shared it openly. And if joy were a truth, he proclaimed it to all the world, for in the purest sense, Bhuwan was the incarnation of giving," said Singh's friend Eric Caulfield, like Singh a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science.
"He was the most caring person I've ever known," said Professor Terry Orlando, Singh's research advisor and housemaster at Ashdown House, where Singh lived. "If there was a student I was concerned about in the house, all I had to do was ask Bhuwan. He would already know the situation, and he would advise me about what to do."
Orlando also remembered how "every Valentine's Day, roses magically appeared for every woman in Ashdown." He knew Singh was responsible and often asked him to give him the receipts for the flowers. "He always said, 'Oh, okay, I will,' but he never did. It was just something he wanted to do."
Singh's girlfriend, Angela Chow, a student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, recalled that on one of their first dates, "a homeless woman approached him and he gave her all the money in his wallet. We had to go back home because he didn't have any money left." When she asked him whether he was concerned about how she'd use the money, he told her, "It doesn't matter. Even if it made her happy for one night, it was worth it."
"Bhuwan's loss constitutes a rip, a tear in the MIT community that won't be easily repaired. His influence here will linger," said Dean for Graduate Students Isaac Colbert.
Singh's body was found Friday, May 7 in a research space at the Center for Materials Science and Engineering. Foul play has been ruled out as a cause of death.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 12, 2004 (download PDF).