I still remember that horrible and unfortunate day, probably 27th of May, 2016, when our househelp came to my room and told about your demise. I instantly jumped out of the bed and got so paranoid that rushed to dad and later on, sent someone to your house to really confirm that you were no more. Funny, isn’t it? We don’t care when people are alive but struggle to wrap our heads around their death news. Not only a teacher, you were my neighbour too.
I visited you so many times during you illness and throughout your absence from college, sometimes to come to the news of your ill health and admission in hospital, other times to be greeted by a sad smile of your dad that you are taken to another city for a better consultation and at times, just to the hours of your bedrest. Every visit broke a part of my heart to only realize how rapidly your health was going down.
That last meeting with you at your clinic is still vividly clear in my memory – a weak smile, determined yet sad eyes, concerned thoughts of a dad about his children, lean body, tired voice, shaking soul but a lot of contentment in each word you uttered. I still find it hard to shrug it off of my mind, that deep melancholic sight I breathed in. We have crossed paths, exchanged greetings and just wished the best for each other so many times in this very street that I walk in on daily basis with the only change of the absence of your classic old Mercedes that was a trademark sign for us all students to know about your presence or absence at college. I am sorry and I am guilty to confess that, like any other student, when I felt super-saturated by the many blood diseases and neurological disorders that you taught – I have wished to not see the Mercedes in the morning that would refer to your absence and a free class for us. I apologize. No matter how much us all, as students, would get irritated at times and the class would seem unwelcoming; I believe everyone can say it with surety that you have been and you always will remain as one of the best teachers of general medicine, my most liked one – your competence, knowledge and insight command over your subject made it a favorite to me.
I know my mates usually think I am mourning the loss of someone that I just knew for his teaching way, too much, but what they don’t know is, you weren’t only a teacher but having lived in the same street for 5 years, the bricks of your house and the people inside it felt like a family. What they don’t know is breaking the news of your death to them killed me then and the thought of it now, kills me again. What they don’t know is some people might not be our immediate family but their passing empties us from inside. And above everything, after all, who are even they to set the standard for grief? For isn’t grief the loss of a will, the will to continue by rephrasing our sentences from IS to WAS for that one person.
After some time our medical school’s journey will end; the system of university will keep on moving like it goes now, many people will graduate, medicine classes would follow their normal routine, your colleagues will come and go, someone will teach blood and neuro, coming batches won’t eve know you, stages and exams will be conducted the same way but there would be only one part missing and that is you. Horrible, isn’t it? It takes us a death to realize how important life is, a permanent absence to value the presence of someone, a void in our heart to appreciate how full it was. The lessons that you have taught me, both big and small, will stick with me for the rest of my life and while I would never be able to say a greeting to you at your house door or to pass by you in college and hear you or to see your blue trademark Mercedes, know that the warmth of your presence is felt every second of the ticking clock. I look back upon that time spent in your presence as so important in the development of the person that I am today. You taught me discipline. You taught me dignity. Much more than General medicine, which was what you were supposedly teaching me, you taught me that I could achieve more than what I or other people thought that I was capable of. I could be a success, instead of a clown. I am thankful. I owe you so much for this but can you hear me?
Your ‘parosan’, as you would call me.
P.S: When you were done with your part of teaching medicine, at the last day, you told us all, “Phir viva mein mulaqat hogi.”
We are done with the vivas, we are in a new class now, you never came to meet us.
P.P.S: Even though it was mostly dirty, that Mercedes was literally so attractive and classy!