And one more reaches the finishing line

A friend died yesterday. Known him for 30 years from the first week at St.Xavier's college. Everyone was too busy in those days so we hung out together but I did not really know him then. Besides none of us had evolved yet - we were babies then. We all went our way after graduation and lost touch. But every year I'd receive greeting cards at Diwali & and New Years by snail mail from 'Muks' as he was called. There was no internet and there were no cell phones and I had just started out my life so we had no telephones at home either. So the annual card was the only connection - and I'd call back to chat and wish him back. Babies, change of address and life interrupted the flow and we lost touch until somehow it was reestablished. And then we got to know Muks well. He led an exemplary life fulfilling his duties as a son. The things he did for his family awed me. And I talked about him to my children as a role model for family values. He was exactly my age but at around the age of 30 he had managed the hospitalisation of his dad for a liver transplant in Singapore. All other aspects of life had been set aside by the entire family in order to watch over the father. This dedication impressed me - because who could set aside half a year this way in today's day and age? He was always wealthy in college - but his behavior never gave us an inkling of this wealth. He'd received a Mercedes Benz for his birthday - a green one - and he'd drive it to college - but out of modesty he'd park it far away - so that it would remain a quiet fact. He was the single source of contact when we needed to find anyone from our batch because he was the one guy who stayed in touch with everyone. He'd write to wish everyone for their birthdays. And since the days of email he'd write to everyone else to remind us of X's birthday or Y's birthday. He'd arrange meet-ups and introduce people who he thought might get along. He was the glue that bound people together. Why did he do it? He was probably busier than most of us - with a large company to run and a large and close knit family to be a part of in addition to social engagements and active interest in theatre, travel and photography. So why did he make time to keep up with people. He kept up with everybody. Not just one or two - but everyone who happened to be there in his class - was known personally to him. We'd chat once a year on his long rides to the airport and catch up on life and make plans to meet up. Years ago 1991 - we'd made plans this way - and Bombay was just too busy. Then it so happened that we would have both be in Udaipur (his home town) at the same time  so we agreed to meet there. I was pregnant with my first baby  so we met up for coffee after my day of work and had a great time - the first time we met 5 years after graduating from college. And so before I went to Udaipur a few months ago I called him up. But he did not answer. I assumed he must be travelling overseas or must have been busy.Who would have imagined that he is not taking calls because he is battling cancer? I found out only 3 weeks ago. He was in hospital then. Met him. With his best buddy Saif. Saif laughed and joked and with his family surrounding him, we tried to wake him from his coma with tales of old jokes and old pranks. He did not wake up. Not that evening. Not ever. Yesterday he passed away. I regret not having acted on our plans to meet up more often. He worked so tirelessly in staying connected and put in all the effort needed to call and arrange group meet-ups. Without ego & with enthu. I regret losing all those opportunities. For all his good karma, he had a good life. And in the end he received the biggest reward that life can shower on a person - something that only the fortunate good people get : he died in the arms of the family that loved him and cherished him, in the arms of the people he loved and cherished - surrounded by his wife, his children, his brother & sisters. He breathed his last ensconced in love. A well deserved reward for a life lived so well. Will miss you buddy! July 16th, 2012

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