Saturday, May 25, 2013

From a Friend's Heart

I can never imagine to pen down strong emotions with so much ease and write something as emotive, stirring and compassionate as the following messageNot even a bit close! 
It's an exceptionally beautiful message written by one of the closest friends of my brother who passed away twenty days back after a long and valiant battle with Pancreatic Cancer.
I wish I had enough good expressions to express how I felt after reading it. I wish my brother was alive to appreciate his friend's thoughts. I wish his daughters could know how great their father was. I wish life was less cruel. I wish things were a lot easier. I wish!

Just a small attempt to keep him alive with me here, on this blog.

It’s hard to write an obituary when the subject is arguably your closest friend. Obituaries were farthest from our minds when we met in Goa in March last year. Non-stop laughter was interrupted only when we went down memory lane. Water skiing in the Arabian sea, drawing on hookahs, munching on authentic Italian pastas at the beautiful Arpora Saturday market made it a holiday of a lifetime. And like always there was one guy who was the life of the party. Maddy was full of life and savouring every second of it. All of us will always owe a debt of gratitude to Anupam whose initiative and insistence led to this reunion being held when it was. A month later and it would never have happened and we wouldn’t have had the last opportunity to witness Maddy as we knew him.

Maddy came up with the suggestion that the next reunion be held later in the year. The conservative sorts amongst us were talking in terms of at least a two year gap between reunions to retain the novelty factor. Maddy would have none of it and in the ‘naa meri naa teri’ sprit we agreed to meet in 2013. In hindsight he could perhaps sense that he didn’t have a lot of time left. His body and his mind must have been giving him warning signals because a month later he was diagnosed with third stage pancreatic cancer. 

What followed was a year of intense suffering and pain, but Maddy never lost his dignity. His main partner-in-suffering was his beloved wife Sucharita whose courage in times of adversity can only be admired. Whenever I went to see Maddy, she would greet me with a smile, offer me a cup of tea and never mope or complain. Neither would Maddy. Such dignity in suffering humbles me. Maddy leaves behind Sucharita, two beautiful daughters Anubhuti and Ananya, his parents and his brother Sushant and so many of us who were blessed to be his friends. However Maddy wouldn’t have wanted me to dwell only on the sadness. In fact he was a guy who didn't have too many negative bones in his body. So let me just talk about what he meant to me.

I first met him in Indore in 1994 when we were a bunch of excited twenty somethings hoping to make something of our lives. I was in awe of him. He came from Delhi and I came from a small town in Bengal. He had a funny hairstyle, had attended interviews at all the 4 IIMs (thankfully not cleared them, otherwise we never would have met), spoke with a Punjabi twang and cracked jokes at the drop of a hat. Somehow fate conspired to make us roommates at the fancy sounding Ratlam Kothi. Within a month we pretty much knew everything there was to know about each other. I continued to be in awe of him. Not only was he brighter than me, he was computer literate, read management and self help books and could draw beautifully. I was rubbish at all of this. He would beat the commerce graduates and engineers in the finance and accounts related subjects. And to think of it, he had graduated in zoology! I borrowed all his jokes and retold them as mine. He ruined my language by adding cuss words to my vocabulary which refuse to go even after 20 years. We may have had the odd argument but I can’t remember either of us sulking for too long. He was a little spoilt like all boys are when they have stayed too long at home, but he quickly learned how to (pretend to)wash a pair of jeans. He never quite learned how to make cucumber sandwiches when all of us had run out of money to pay for the mess food towards the end of our stay in Indore. And he could never wake up on time for breakfast. I have to take credit along with our flatmate KK for having kept him and the equally lazy Debu, well fed for the better part of our second year in Indore. Yes breakfast was served on the bed for these gentlemen! It wasn’t all about fun and games though. Maddy could give you the soundest advice when you asked for it. The counselling that Maddy and Debu gave me in a fly infested dhaba over sugary tea changed my life for the better. After Indore Maddy went to Baroda to work in Sun Pharma. I don’t think his heart was in it. He missed his family and his hometown and a combination of circumstances made him return to Delhi where his heart always was. He worked in a few companies and ended up in an IT company which was always his real passion. It was there that he met Sucharita and they teamed up in life as well as in work because Maddy was on his way to becoming an entrepreneur. He always wanted to be his own master and being an entrepreneur suited him just fine. All through these years, we would meet once or twice a year and he would excitedly tell me about his morning sessions of football, about his new found interest in the stock markets and of course about his family. Always gung-ho and generally pleased with life. Even when the business environment was tough during the financial crisis, he would never wallow in self pity. Solid, dependable Maddy.

We became even closer during his fight with cancer as I tried hard to keep his spirits up and to try and soak up some of his pain, his fears and his suffering. For me it was the desperation to hold on to him because I could not imagine a world without his infectious enthusiasm, his laughter and his zest for life. Life will go on and the pain will eventually subside. But there will always be that little void in my life and in the lives of all those he touched, which can never be filled.

Maddy, farewell my friend. You will be badly missed.


P.S: Maddy was his nickname for Madhur.

One of his favorite songs.
Actually, mine too!

Monday, May 20, 2013


Charles Bukowski

Saturday, May 4, 2013

You are More Than an Inspiration, Brother.

I visited him yesterday. He is very weak, fragile and unconscious. His eyes are yellow because of Jaundice and are open since many days. He can't close them as the brain has almost stopped functioning. The doctors have discharged him from the hospital because they say that they have no idea how long he would be in this coma-like state and that there is nothing more they can do. No treatment, nothing!

The one thing which is good, is that he is no more in excruciating pain.

Earlier, I was told that I shouldn't see him in this condition as it would be too much to handle and this glum picture of his would be stuck in my memory forever. But they were wrong! It gave me so much satisfaction just to watch him there, lying in calmness and peace. Yes, he looked extremely delicate and frail but I did not fear even a bit. Why would I? He is my brother after all. So what, if at 40, his body is as weak as that of an old man's. It narrates a tale of his brave and valiant battle with the world's most dangerous form of cancer. It narrates a tale of his determination with which he tried his best to quell the bitch. Nobody could ever portray the kind of mettle spirit he did, during the past one year. 

He is a lot more than an inspiration! To me, to the family and to his friends.

All through the months, even in immense pain, he always cradled a positive outlook. Having learnt the art of meditation, he detached himself from trivial, flimsy and all other kind of worries of the world.

Day before yesterday, my mother told me that out of many, the last thing which he taught her was not to love his body but his soul, his teachings and his way of life. For he will always be there in the heart.

Death has nothing to do with going away.
The sun sets
The moon sets
But they are not gone.

~ Rumi

For both his daughters, he has left something so beautiful which I cannot put into fine words. He has written a diary filled with so many precious teachings for life. It is hard for me to express how moved I was when yesterday, I sat down in a room all alone, and read those pages. They gave me goosebumps! All I wanted to do was just read them over and over again and cry to them forever. I can only imagine how relieving those tears would be. Even now, while I'm making an attempt to tell you how soothing it was, I can't fight back this urge to read it once more. For that is the one thing which would be the most priceless asset: An exquisite father-daughter thing!

Here is a picture which I clicked sneakily.

We don't know how much time is left now. We don't know when we would get the impending news. Hope has faded into sheer nothingness. And yes! We all are preparing ourselves for the worst. Even his wife, the strongest of all, who always greets us with a big smile, has become the pillar of the family. She is a brave woman and doesn't stand a tinge of pity from anyone. Last evening, she told us how dearly my brother wished to have a little get-together with family and friends but his deteriorating condition disallowed him.

Anyway, as the day ended, I made a promise to myself to learn the art of meditation. I have already added it to my wish list and shall soon work towards fulfilling the same. As he, in the diary, wrote to his daughters that whenever life gets tough, just meditate and face it and it will be good again.

Love you beyond everything, brother!

On a lighter note, last evening, I received a lot of appreciation for my recently published poems. Of course, I, without a fail, kept flying higher and higher.
Wait, haven't I told you that I got published again? Yes!!! And this time it is an online magazine Tamarind Rice. Go search me and read my poems.