Just two words greeted me on my mobile as I entered my office this seventh day of the month of March. I have a full day’s work ahead of me, and though the sense of loss pervaded in my feelings throughout the day, I remained in my office and left at the scheduled time.
My cousin brother’s missive in the form of an SMS in the morning brought the realization that Jhetu (dad’s elder bro) is no longer amidst us. Throughout the day, I recollected several memories involving him, and that is the genesis of this piece.
I have heard that Jhetu has had a massive cardiac arrest about a week back. Since hospitalization on that day, his condition has been rapidly deteriorating, and he slipped into coma. When I spoke to my cousin the day before, he informed me that the doctors have given up hope and only miracles could have turned things for the better.
Alas, that was not to be.
Since he had stepped into his eighties, Jhetu wasn’t particularly keeping well. The loss of his wife less than a year ago had dealt a further blow to him. Yet, last when I met him about six or seven months back, little realizing that this would be the last that I would see of him, he didn’t seem despondent about life and its vicissitudes.
He loved me much. I have fond childhood memories associated with him. When I was about seven or eight years old, I would often enjoy the evenings going out with him. The lure was a treat of sweets, something that I was extremely fond of in my childhood, at a shop called TEA HOUSE in Police Bazar, Shillong – the town where I grew up in a joint family, and Jhetu was the second commander-in-chief of the household after my granddad. He often made fun at my expense on those outings. After we had finished devouring the sweets and the snacks, he would tell me to secretly crawl out of the shop as he had forgotten his wallet at home. And I am told that is what I exactly did on those occasions …
He was the eldest of five siblings. During his younger days, he had to live in different places and attended many different schools. Something that didn’t give him the stability one ought to have during one’s schooling. He fought the adversities that life challenged him with great élan and supported his family.
Memories of playing Carrom with him, or indulging in literary discussion that could have been the growing ground for aspirations related with aesthetics would forever remain with me.
Every generation attempts to pass over the good values that they inherit to the next generation. People like my Granddad and Jhetu always stood for old world values of honesty and devotion towards duty. I was really touched by an experience a year back or so.
Jhetu was once given a book on medicine by a Doctor friend of his several years ago. The Doctor passed away in the meanwhile. The book stayed with him for many years in his room in our house in Shillong. Jhetu shifted to a different city to spend his retired life. During one of our meetings, he requested me to find the book from his room. He would like to hand over the book to the son of the Doctor. He felt that was a debt he owed to his friend. I did search for that book as requested with a fine tooth comb, but the book had gone missing.
I wish I could have honored his last wish.
Adieu Jhetu. May you rest in peace.