It was a bolt from the blue when I saw body of not-so old man collapsed in his son’s arms after a bout of cough

and subsequent vomit. The hapless son looked around and that very moment I knew I lost my `friend, guide and philosopher’.

Even as the

bed number 2 of the ICU ward of Ram Manohar Lohiya Hospital reverberated with the tense and concerned shouts of doctor `Babuji … Babuji….” a faint voice continued to

ring my ears “… I am not afraid of departure.”

That very morning while holding my hand he told me “… I am not afraid of departure. This is our Sanskaar and this would happen.” As he said this a smile floated his unshaven, toothless face which put a veneer to the pain he was in at that time

Departure it was – and it was as graceful as he wanted it to be. A helpful and benevolent soul who was always ready to help others was, in fact, in pain to see his family members running around, spending hours in the hospital and trying to provide him all the comforts. Despite having an acute headache and post- heart attack pain at the back of his neck he asked his family members: “Pareshaan na ho. Baith jao..”

The life of this 68 year old Babu Lal Sharma, my father-in law, was full of struggle. He lost his father when he was just five. This death pushed the family – him and his mother – to a state of pecuniary. He continued his studies. When he was in Fifth standard he started taking tuitions. He did not have money to take rickshaw or afford bicycle but to keep his commitment he used to walk and reach from one tuition to another in a specified time. A brilliant student who helped his peer with studies joined the government service when he got the first opportunity when he was just 21.

His friends vouch: “…he could have touched sky. He deserved much more. But probably destiny was not in his side.”

He fought with his destiny all the time – be it in government service or in his personal life. A firm believer in the virtue of work but never detested his wife from practicing karmkaand (religious ritual). A pious soul and an exponent Gita he looked at life from the prism of rationality. He believed that `Aatma’ never dies but this body which encapsules the Soul perishes therefore while in death bed he told his daughterin law: “Haamare ghar mein bahuen nahi rote.”

Look, Boss I am not crying because you have expected us not to. But tell you frankly – this was not the age to take exit. Not the time for DEPARTURE.

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