I lost my elder brother the other day. Bijoy was the third brother after my eldest brother and sister. The second brother Ajoy left us more than six years ago
Bijoy was 84 and was doing well till last year. Then his health started failing and yet he put up a brave front. His wife assisted him very ably caring for him all the while. But with one thing or another he had to be repeatedly hospitalized. Of late, Death was seemingly stalking him and made occasional lunges at him. He, however, fought them off. He came out of Septicemia and a pre-dialysis cardiac arrest – conditions serious enough from which very few ever came back. But in his case, every time Death did back off and he came back home. Even after repair of his fractured hip bone he came back and was recovering well when Death, apparently, changed its strategy and decided to cheat. Instead of attacking from the front it came quietly by stealth, crept in at the dead of the night and took him away.
Memories of eighty-odd years came flooding to me. We had been children together and played games together. I remember when father would be playing badminton on the courts of Victoria College at Gwalior both of us would play our own game with an used shuttle cock a little away without a net. We were not tall enough then for a net, anyway. If it became windy we would move into the wide verandahs of the college and play till it became dark. We were active in adolescence, too, and would play in a make-shift court in the neighbourhood. Here elders, father’s former students organised a club for us children and named it “Club de Juvenile”. We would regularly play badminton here.
In the College he excelled in NCC which virtually became an obsession. His well-starched uniform and highly polished regulation boots had to catch the eyes of the seniors making him the favourite of the Commanding Officer. They had him lead the NCC contingent of the Republic Day parade at Delhi. But on the lighter side, he would excellently mimic his CO, Capt. Gill – complete with the latter’s thick Punjabi accent.
Ever a sports lover, it was billiards that brought him a break after post graduation. A fair amount of finesse acquired in the game brought him to the notice of others in the Jiwaji Club where he used to play. That got him the job in the Gazetteer Unit of the then newly established state of Madhya Pradesh. Once he acquired a foothold, he swung his way up by sheer hard work and exemplary commitment, to head the newly established state tourism office. Post-graduation in history came in handy and he mapped out the tourism potential of the state that has a number of places of historical importance. With his energy and drive, tourism in the state was promoted like never before. Eventually a tourism development corporation, for which he had worked tirelessly, was established to build on further on the solid foundation that he laid. Retiring from the post of Managing Director he ran a consultancy. His expertise on tourism soon fetched him a World Bank assignment that ran for about a couple of years.
Basically, extrovert, affable and genial as he was, he was surrounded by friends who would make everyone laugh. I recall those early days in Bhopal around late 1950s when the Medical College was yet to come up and there was the Bhopal Club still on top of the hill where the College has now come up. Peals of laughter would be heard at even the tennis court when he and his friends would play billiards. That club was an obsession with him and he couldn’t stay away from it in the evenings. Even in the driving rain of Bhopal in the peak of the monsoon he would don his raincoat, sit astride his Vespa drive up to the club unmindful of the risks on the roads.
Bhopal was his “karmasthana”* for more than sixty years where he devoted himself to work and where his genius flowered. Here he got married to a beautiful devoted wife who gave him a brilliant son. Bhopal is where he found fulfillment in life and in the midst of laughter and happiness he quietly left it – at dead of one beastly night.
Au revoir, my beloved brother! Go and rest in peace.