13 December, 2008

The ties that bind … Goodbye Uncle

13th December 2008. I receive a call at around 8.00 am from my classmate Nalin that Pradeep’s dad who was hospitalized for now over two months is no more. The first reaction is surprise followed by numbness and then regret. The rites are at 10.30 -11.00 am at Mahim at Deepak’s, his elder brother’s home and then it was off to Shivaji Park.

From Mulund which is around 25 km’s away, as I started on my two-wheeler all my thoughts were on Pradeep. He is settled in the USA now with his wife Ameetha, Son Taran and Dog Samba. None of them could be here at this point. He had been here last month when Uncle was first diagnosed ill and the recovery took its own time and we got to speak then, not meet. Nalin had met Uncle in the hospital during the time he had stabilized. He recounts that Uncle was mighty happy that his life had been made complete by his two sons who had settled well in their life and their families there on. After a long battle with his ailment he made his peace & moved into the next world.

In such cases my heart always goes out to the people he left behind; his wife and partner of more than four decades, his sons, daughters in law and the grandchildren. On all of them his mark was left in some measure. Deepak the elder son was performing the rites as Nalin, Mohnish and I watched along with many friends and relatives who had gathered to pay their respects. The hurt in the eyes of Deepak was palpable in the stiffly held shoulders, he who had to be the strength here, while some part of him wanted to break down himself. Aunty was crying and the softly sniffling sounds of grief from a lady who till now always was high decibel were painful.

My memories of Pradeep’s dad are sketchy. He always was the stern faced, gruff man who would sit in the balcony of their house in Gloria society. The demeanor though stern was only that, until one looked into his eyes which had pure mischief. He would sneak in a one liner which would be so funny that it would have us in splits. My pal gets his comic timing from his dad for sure. The house would be full and noisy all the time and not with one word were people made to feel that it is a trouble. It was an open house and a very very warm household. Aunty would make this yummy fish curries and the smells of cooking and domesticity would abound. In the speed of achievement and establishment of selves, the trips to that home had stopped and meetings by themselves became occasional. Pradeep went to the USA and it became even more difficult. Then Deepak moved to Mahim. Surprisingly the environs is quite similar to Gloria society at Mulund, was my impression today.

Deepak broke down when the last mortal remains were assigned to the flames, in the arms of a friend, though he quickly composed himself. All of us were there for Pradeep and share his loss. The call of the career puts people in geographies so distant that it is gut wrenching to see when a stark reality like this prevents their being here in person. Pradeep would say goodbye to his Dad in his own way, maybe he already did. I pen this on behalf of all us guys here in Mumbai and there in the USA who would be feeling no different. These are the ties that bind us…the ties shall remain always as we say..Goodbye Uncle.


Pradeep said...

Kau, Thanks for your blog. His sense of humor and his ability to be strong even in moments of pain is something I would never forget. He made the doctors and nurses laugh all the time with his jokes. His non-tension attitude (ananth always said about my dad, tera dad tho mast maula hain re, maja aata hain), his spirit and jokes made him a person that everyone loved dearly.
I am not a good writer, so cant say it in words. I will miss him dearly and always try to keep up to his level of humor.

Goodbye Dad.

Kau Kau goes the Crow said...

Hey Pal, he shall be missed but he lives on amongst all of you and shall continue to always.In your laugh and a line he shall laugh amongst us.

My condolences to all at home.

Ananth said...

It took me a long time to write this, not because necessarily I was busy, but mainly because i was afraid everytime i start thinking about unkle (I used to joke with Pradeep, asking "Oye, Pakya kidhar hai??), i cannot hold back the tears and the overwhelming feeling that forms a knot in my chest and stomach. Even as I write this, I am choking, literally fighting back my tears and sniffles while at work, but feel I need to get this off my chest and face the reality of life as it is the only way for closure.

Unkle has always been a smooth operator; laid back attitude, mischief in the eyes, jokes to keep you in splits....I still remember a couple of times when I was at Gloria at Pradeeps place during the day time (mid day), and surprised to hear snoring come from the other room. And then I was told that unkle is just on his break from his company (Voltas) and takes naps in the afternoons at home :-) Kitnaa sahee hai! And how can I for get the many times when I was made to feel so special in Pradeeps' place, where knowing my passion for Aunty's fish fry, Uncle used to make a special trip (and I take great pride in saying this) just for me, to get the freshest and choiciest of fishes. And then of course, there were those incidents where Pradeep and I would go walking to the corner bakery or shop and catch unkle sneaking a beedi, hiding from aunty.

It really broke my heart to learn about uncle's heart problems earlier. But knowing the person, his spirits were always soaring and he was never bogged down by ailments. In the last several weeks when Uncle was in the hospital, it still seemed like a battle of "mind over matter". But I guess over time, the mortal human frame can only support the mind so much. But as I learned even in the last 2 days, uncle was looking to Taran's photos and missing the family here and many other things in between. Maybe that was just his way of reconciling to the inevitible.

Who do I kid about with Pradeep now? How can I make my corny remarks to him like "..Rishtey mein Pakya Tera Baap lagta hai, Naam hai Pakyaa..." or call him up and say "Pakya ke chokrey ko phone dey, chal!"

Goodbye Uncle, and Godspeed!! With tears welled in my eyes and love and affection always for you, YOU SHALL BE MISSED!!

Kau Kau goes the Crow said...

Hey Taks,

It is straight from the heart like always, must say. Needed stating it, the way u have.