|The Team, with the Captain in the middle|
I was and like many, still remain an ardent fan of
Kapil Dev and Viv Richards. Strokes were fine, however many could. Grace was cool, probably David Gower was better. Swing was mesmerising, no doubt.
Yet Kapil Dev and Sir Viv as players and captains, were in the league of the 'exclusive' - mostly due to their incorrigible optimism, chest-thumping bravado, Dev Anand's 'Is Fikr Ko Dhuyen Me Udaa Ta Chala Gaya' philosophy and finally for the full-swing of the bat.
I too was part of a team, not 11 but with 3 members. We too had a captain - the incorrigible and the optimist. He did not possess diplomatic skills since he did not know what is meant by the word 'no'. For him, everything was possible and reachable and doable.
The man who nurtured me, scolded me, with whom I had altercations, yet who has made me what I am - with all the infinite positive energy he possessed.
When I was thumped by a school-mate in the 7th standard, and went to him crying, instead of oozing sympathy, he upbraided me to equip myself physically and psychologically to meet up to such challenges and encouraged me to go back and give the guy what he deserved. And I started physical exercises.
He advised me, for the sake of protein and overall strength, to gulp uncooked eggs in milk. He taught me how to perform push-ups and squats and yoga.
And I was ungrateful. I aimed to use his methods to surpass him. I desired to have stronger arms than him and told him one day I would be more powerful than him.
He smiled and laughed and accepted the challenge.
When after my Masters, I was unsure of what was to be done, I went up to him.
'Should I search a job?'
'Do as your mind aspires, Listen to your heart', was his prompt answer, as always, and of course, specifically under financial duress.
It cleared my dilemma. I joined academics and was contented to bring home a scholarship of 5,400 rupees per month in August 2000. He was a proud father.
When in December 2004 I told him I wished to appear for Civil Services, his sure reply was,
'Absolutely, go for it, I am with you'.
When in June 2009 I asked for his advice whether I should write regularly on Insurgency and particularly on Maoism, he again said, 'Very Much,,,,write as much as you can'
His dictum was simple. His dictum was profound.
'Do as you like, however always keep in mind that whatever you do, try to excel in it.'
He sheltered us, weathered all storms for us, fought for us; whereas I at times fought with him, criticised his carefree approach to life under the influence of my adolescent haughtiness and upstart intellect.
He was my first teacher. He was my first guide.
He was my 'Baba'.
He loved to eat. I shouted at him. I pressured him to control his waistline. He ate clandestinely.
He was our pillar. He was our base. He was our dome.
When I heard his footsteps in the adjoining kitchen space, hankering for a glass of water on 27 January 2018, it was 01:10 Hrs. I had just completed a write-up.
I knew he was strong, still I trembled a bit. I did whatever I could. Glass of water, coke, Omez tablet, all to relieve him of the 'gastric' pain he was experiencing in his belly. I massaged him. Not enough though.
I had no solution for the 'breathlessness' he was having. He asked me to call Ma. It was about 01:35 Hrs. Asthalin was given to him. He recovered. I was relieved.
As he was about to settle down, and I informed my brother over phone not to ask for the ambulance, Baba fell, quite involuntarily, on the bed. His face went distorted and left hand trembled. I lost my senses. Ma still was firm. I didn't know what was to be done. I stood and watched. He gasped for breath. I poured some water into his mouth. He looked at us, as if for the last time and then was unconscious - at least that's what we wanted to believe at that point of time.
I was helpless. I couldn't get hold of the ambulance on time. Nearby nursing homes had no manpower, no stretcher, no ambulance. I felt powerless, feeble.
In a matter of one night, I could feel my age shoot up by 10 years. My umbrella was no more.
My God was no more.
He had two complaints against me - that I loved my Vice-Captain more than him, that I have not exclusively acknowledged him in either my thesis or in my book.
I have only one complaint against him. He should have given me at least one chance to redeem myself.
My next book would be dedicated to you, Captain.
Shri Bimal Kumar Mukherjee
[12-04-1948 to 27-01-2018]
studied Commerce in St Xavier's College, Calcutta
worked at Sandoz India Ltd,
a free thinker and a maverick
sometimes as leisurely as a Nawab
& an ardent admirer of Swami Vivekananda
Salute to You.