A Professor And A Gentleman

When I met Prof. Indu Mohan Das again in October 2021, and later wrote about him, I couldn’t  imagine he will leave us so soon. With heavy heart, I share below what I had written:

Prof. Indu Mohan Das has decency written all over him. Dignified and gentle, goodness reflects in his eyes and sits light on his shoulders.

Our association goes back to the 1980s when he was a Professor in the Physics Deptt., Gauhati University, and headed University Science & Instrumentation Center. We—at ‘Systems & Appliances’—were taking pioneering baby steps to introduce technology driven solutions from companies such as Wipro, Philips, and Tata in the region.

One winter morning, attired in a blue blazer and wearing a salesman’s hat, I knocked at his office door. This was my first meeting with Prof. Das, and after giving him product specifications, I requested him for a Purchase-Order with full advance payment—what cheek. He looked at me, smiled, and asked: “full advance?” I met his eyes and replied: “yes, full advance”. He signed the Order with a twinkle in his eyes. Business concluded, we sipped tea and talked of this and that. He said how good my tie looked; I returned the compliment about his moustache.

Remarkable this encounter was—he trusted the unknowns—me and my firm, at considerable risk. I doubted the University system to pay us on time; he didn’t doubt our intention. I realised he trusted me—a novice and much junior—because he himself is a man of integrity. We moved heaven and hell to deliver and install the ordered equipment in record time—we had to—to honour his trust in us.

With time, our professional relationship developed into mutual respect and friendship. I shifted to Bangalore. Prof. Das went on to become Dean, Science at the University and retired.

Over the years, the warmth of our friendship remains intact, the understanding never waned. I have been meeting him during some of my Guwahati visits. Yesterday I met him again. His adult son is wheelchair bound since childhood, and now he himself suffers from Parkinson’s—yet his spirit soars undiminished. Oh… How delighted he was to have me in his home. We joked and laughed, reminiscing about old times and old timers. He offered me a ‘Sandesh’—his affection so delicious, I had to have another one.

Elegant in looks, thoughts, and action—rare are men such as Indu Mohan Das.

Shadows Image: unsplash

Crazy Cozy Corners

I am crazy about cozy corners.

In Sujangarh home, I spent hours sitting in a cute little window. While devouring boondiya-bhujiya* in its lap, I was spell-bound by street’s sights, sounds, and smells– foaming camels, fighting dogs, and farting horses.

In Guwahati home, I captured a small low-height room in the middle of stairs (‘duchhati’) and was quick to name it “Niru’s Nest”, lest someone else lay claim to it. This was my nest during college and university days and nights, though I laid no eggs here. Friends frequented it, parents avoided it. Here I taught ‘Break-Even Analysis’ to Bimal Patni ; and here I learnt about break-heart stories of many.  Though we still have to go up to it, today it is a ‘godown’.

In Bangalore home, I made a tiny heaven surrounded by books. Here I could see, smell, touch, and feel books… I lived with books—some which I read long ago, few which I have read over and over again, and some I am yet to open. This flirting is life-long, the charm and the romance remain undiminished.

My love affair with cozy indoors—such as captivating coupes in trains—continues. If I find none, I create one. June 2021—I found myself back in Guwahati, and I lost no time in carving a niche Study in the ground floor drawing room. The wooden contraption—which supported the wash-basin in my parent’s bathroom—became my work-table. The massive painting –which Bapuji* had insisted upon buying in Bangalore—gives relief to my laptop-tired eyes but agitates my tranquil nerves. The curves of the long abandoned ebony- black ‘Film-Fair’ lady and the recently grown grass-green plant on my desk compete with each other—my  imagination runs riot.

This love for small indoors contrasts with my love for vast outdoors—the abundant nature—the sprawling seas and meadows; the rising mountains and trees; the endless horizon and skies; the infinite space and time…

This puts me to a thought—confined in their cozy captivity, the heart can be limitlessly large and the mind can be immeasurably big.

*Boondiya-Bhujiya: Sweet & sour Indian snacks; * Bapuji: Father

Pics: Foaming Camel; Door to Niru’s Nest; The one with painting says it all.

I Run… Yet I Remain

Whenever I lose a dear one, am hurt by someone close, or when I make a mistake—I try to console myself. The collective wisdom asks me to learn from life-lessons and move on. But the anger and the angst keep hurting. Memories never fade. Sadness doesn’t leave. Good, bad or ugly—sounds, sights and smells linger. Yes, with time it becomes easier to forgive. But can we ever forget? I can’t. I run…Yet I remain.

People and experiences are never alike. There is no template for life questions, answers and lessons. Each time I cry, my tears are different. My laughter is never the same in every situation.

The way each tragedy kills is unique. Happiness gives joy in myriad hues. We can’t copy- paste life’s dimensions, times and relationships. Perceptions differ and keep changing. These can’t be framed in formulae.

We live and die moment to moment. And each moment we are reborn, we are different—so is the world. My thoughts echo in Heraclitus’s words: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

Wondering Mind Wandering Thoughts Series

Self Portrait: Fireside Thoughts

Fireside Thoughts-Self Portrait

There Was A Tree, There Was An Island

I am the Tree, I am the Island…

In air, In water, and on ground,

I am in, I am out, I am within…

Real or Reflection, seen or unseen;

My leaves sway, shimmer, and seek…

My roots soak, sink, and surrender,

Longing to merge, melt, and meet…

Some will soothe, others shock, stab, and shatter;

Insides surface as outsides submerge…

In tight embraces, truths emerge,

The tree in me is shaken…

The island in me is broken,

Soil of memories clings to roots that now rot…

Waves gnaw, chip away every bit and mote;

Soon my sap seeps and saps…

I dissolve – I am particles, I am pieces,

Yes, there was a tree, there was an island…

Nothing ever remains except reminiscences.

Tree Island

pic: Gavin Hard castle

Still !

Still I am…

And distill my stillness still,

Some substance and residue plenty to fill…

Yet, in stillness how I distill;

                    Here, there, wherever…

                    I wonder, I wander everywhere,

                    Neither satiated nor had my kill…

                    Yet I am so still;

Fleeting  memories fill times bygone…

Fluttering thoughts find future untold,

Aloft near or beyond the distant hill…

Asunder, yet so close, It’s love or fear you instill ?

                    Stoic and neurotic, heroic and meek…

                    I am resilient, I am weak,

                    What couldn’t be, was not to be…

                    In the remnant you, what do I seek ?

Still I am…

And distill my stillness still,

Some substance and residue plenty to fill…

Yet, in stillness how I distill !

WHEN FATHER DEPARTS !

Dreams and memories of father waft into my nights like puffy clouds… sobbing memories, crying dreams… descending in hordes. Memories which keep me awake; Dreams pulsating and alive; Emotions overwhelming n choking. Memories of his infectious laughter, his magical touch and that naughty twinkle in his eyes… memories which beckon, dreams which whisper… tiny tendrils of tender thoughts… maudlin eyes tired of crying at times, but remembrance always wet…

With age he mellowed and sparkled like a fine vintage wine, yet father was a child. Innocent in his maturity and playful in his seriousness, he kept the child within around too. Father was full of life and gave so much of himself and his love. He didn’t preach goodness, but showed it in his methods n manners. Fond of small little pleasures, and with impeccable taste for finer things, he was neither greedy nor a hoarder, nor was he casual in his words, approach and life-style.

Father gave his best and looked for the best in others. He stood tall but never made one feel small. He appreciated all that is good and beautiful and left the world a little better. So very humane, father was among a few good men, a rare breed. He lived and died on his own terms… with dignity and grace, and in his own inimitable style! I grieve that he is no more, but am thankful that he was.

My unspoken bonding with father was such that there was little to be said between two of us. His silence was eloquent, eyes spoke volumes, and his smile or a raised eyebrow conveyed it all. Feelings ran deep and our understanding grew without trying. I wish I had held his hand more often and little longer; I wish I had hugged him whenever and wherever and for no reason; I wish I had sat by his side silently watching the sunset, sun or no sun; I wish I had stolen more of his mornings, afternoons and evenings; I wish I had drunk and devoured more of him… oh, how I wish!

Father went away, but will always be with me. He lives in my laughter and cries, in my joys and sorrows, in my sky and universe, in my days and nights. He lives in my thoughts, my emotions, my feelings. He lives in my breaths, my memories and my moments. I bask in the warmth of his love, I shine in his reflected glory.

After he departed, people thus console and counsel: life goes on as it keeps flowing like a river. But as Heraclitus said, no man enters the same river again…for it is not the same river and he is no longer the same man.

Sri HCS Photograph

An Ephemeral Creature of Transient Times….I Live in the World of Words i Write!

An ephemeral creature of transient times…

I live in the world of words i write;

Firefly of the future, my soul found wings…

In life lost and stars-kissed light.

            Words echoing from my deepest depths…

            I owe to the one who took my breath away;

            Living now, now dead…

           Neither regret nor rejoice, nothing to say.

Nothing like forever old n forever new…

For not in moments, in memories i live;

Born to die and born yet again…

Nothing to forget yet nothing to believe.

           Past a beautiful lie, Present existential angst…

           Future but an agonized quest;

           Scorched soul sitting on pierced wings…

           Flies me to distant shores, be it dark be twilight.

Nano particle in the void of time n space…

Infinity ensconced in a fleeting second;

Effervescent, enchanting, exhilarating…

Yet, in palm, are life n times ever held.

            An ephemeral creature of transient times…

           I live in the world of words i write;

           Firefly of the future, my soul found wings…

          In life lost and stars-kissed light.

Morbid Thoughts: The Final Moments- Tryst with the Unknown ! (As immortalised in Anand- “Maut, tu ek Kavita hai….”)

On the edge of Age…
On the cliff of Life…
On the brink of Death…
On the end of the beginning and beginning of the end….
When darkness has devoured the light and spark has gone…
When all seems to be lost forever in the abyss of nothingness…..
When time has timed out and space has shrunk ….
Mind drifts and dithers, confused and confounded,
Desperate to capture life’s journey in few fleeting moments !
Life….a kaleidoscope of colours n myriad hues,
But now all in black n white…nay Grey !
Life….a parade of people, places n peccadillos,
All that is left now is fragile vanishing memory !
Mind lucid no more…..now conscious, now unconscious…incoherent,
It tricks, it teases, it plays games !
Flood of Illusions, deluge of delusions !
A constant subliminal struggle !
And the matter matters not any more !
People loved n loving but are images hazy n distant !
Echoes come calling from far away shores,
But fade away in inaudible whispers !
It’s a different world out there……frightening but mesmerizing n enticing,
Blackest of the black hole !
It beckons, it calls, it tempts, it shepherds….
To the oblivion n beyond !
To keep the tryst with the unknown !

IMG_20180710_110845103_HDR~5