[This is an ode to my Jethu (dad's elder brother), a father figure to us, a visionary, a freedom fighter and finally family]
Death is not extinguishing the lamp,
It is but putting out the light, because the dawn is here!
— Rabindranath Tagore
My first memories with my Jethu would be as a 10 year old, who could go any distance for an ice cream. Back in those days, they were a treat and a rarity. One of the few occasions would be somebody’s marriage reception party, and I would just hold my Jethu’s hand and go trotting. Whether I knew those guys at the reception party hardly mattered. I would be scared as a kid, in those huge Indian marriage receptions, with so many people gathered at the hall, as if nobody knew nobody. I would just stand right beside him, clutching his kurta, an occasional peek and a tug, as he would meet up with so many people he knew, talking and laughing, exchange those pleasantries in the most dignified way. But I would always make sure that we have our own share of the two-in-one flavored ice cream.“I could not see him breathe his last, but I am sure, it was beautiful. Beautiful as a twinkling star; fading away slowly and gracefully, in the eastern sky. Silent as the night would be destroyed every dawn to the vermilion sun.”
No words of mine, would justify his lifetime of work, for his country, before and after independence, his family, my dad and his people. What struck me was the amount of respect and love that flowed from people’s heart. Else how would the Communist party chief and a rickshaw puller, pay the last tributes in the same stage?But how shall you find death, unless you seek it in the heart of life? For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one! –Khalil Gibran
Yes, life is a full circle. The river has flowed through the highs and lows collecting applauses and ridicules, hits and misses, giving life and quenching thirsts, who came to drink from him. Finally as the river becomes the ocean, and people know, he cannot take the last plunge alone, hundreds of such tributaries that are born of this river, comes and pours their tears, give him the water, which would make him the ocean, and become tranquil.
Born at the heart of a communist Bengal, I used to wake up to the scent of the “Ganashakti” – the Communist
party newsletter. I was indifferent then, my political senses are yet to develop. I would always feel a strong air of
communism blowing across the neighborhood. As a child I grew up watching people putting faith in Jethu, meetings, parades, strikes, incessant phone calls from the party office and flag raising ceremonies as various
schools during the independence and republic days. All these memories had one absolute focal point, covering and protecting them like a powerful aura – Jethu.
Jethu used to call me “Jethu”. It’s a token of love shown by the eldest of the family. Whenever, there was an interview/live coverage of him on “Doordarshan” (national T.V channel) he used to call me with a childish enthusiasm and tell “Jethu, aaj amay T.V te dekhabe, dekho kintu!” (Today the T.V guys will air me on their program), and we would all gather in the T.V room at during the 8 pm news. Love has so many different and silent forms, and affection is just one subtle side of it. It never fails to bring a smile to my face, as I look back.
He used to speak with a heavy East Bengal ascent (now Bangladesh) and I used to find it super-cool to imitate him. Then, I and my cousin used to take the fun out of such innumerable high accented speeches. Now we, take the nostalgia out of it.
When I went to visit him at the hospital, two weeks back, he couldn’t recognize me. His sugar level had depleted drastically. At that point of time, I feared to even think that we are losing him slowly and time was running out fast. That was my final memory with the only freedom fighter I knew in person. A visionary in its true sense!
Let him dwell in death’s playground. Let him be in peace for some time, Until, we meet again, in some far away autumn, In some distant horizon, of twinkling twilights, Swimming in the same fish bowl, Where the last breath would again be beautiful! Until we meet again, Until we meet again..!