Sunday, February 27, 2011

Voids not filled

I knew Vaidhyanathan Sir (Sir, as we called him or Vaitthaa maama for the kids) from the time of my marriage. Señora knew him maybe from her school/college times. He was an LIC agent, down to earth, going around with a bag of folders/documents on his TVS-50 in Thanjavur and minding his business. I do not know his age, maybe around 50+, looked a bit older than his age, with some broken teeth and a quirky laugh. He was a bachelor, lived in a simple tenement in some bylane of Thanjavur, and didn't have much of an extended family from his side. He was a pillar to Señora's parents and considered a member of the family. Any occasion/emergency in the home, he was there, either helping out on something or just there with his presence lending moral support and in case we wanted any helping hands or some quick errands to run, He never expected anything in return. Whenever Señora's parents visited us in Bangalore for long visits, he would be requested to take charge of the house, which he did.

At Thanjavur, we would meet at Señora's place, discuss state, local, colony and LIC office politics or some trivia, with him seated in a foldable metal chair in the hall near to the entrance. We would force him to have tiffin/coffee or lunch at our home in spite of his protestations and he used to drop in regularly at our home with a caveat that we don't force him to eat/drink. We used to pull him in on any of our visits to places around Thanjavur, if he was available, so that he gets a break out of his day-to-day routine. He was always a busy man, being in Thanjavur one day, the evening in Tiruchi, the next day in Bangalore and maybe the next day in Madras or Mayavaram or sometimes Bombay. He had a rickety old Nokia cell phone and refused to buy a new one saying that was more than enough for him. He knew maybe half the people of Thanjavur, maybe an exaggeration, but he knew lots of people.

He used to visit us and my parents at Bangalore. He would call up and tell that he would visit us, or drop by just like that, waiting for us to return if we were out. He would at times book a hotel and we would protest that he could always come in to any of our homes at Bangalore and of late he did stay with us on his known visits to Bangalore. In any of the functions that we hosted, he was usually there, though he didn't need to be. He was a man of very simple needs and we were always in doubt as to what to gift him other than shirts or pants, even of which his tastes were very down to earth.

Two weeks back, he was in an accident when a two-wheeler hit him and suffered serious injuries on his head. Some good samaritans who knew him rushed him to hospital. He had surgery on his skull/brain and was in coma for around a week and on a respirator and passed away without any sign of recovery middle of last week.

Señora is distraught and her parents are in shock. It is painful for one who was close and known to you to be no more, all of a sudden. We do not know what his plans were for the future (or if he really planned something), any encumberances that he was addressing, things he promised for others or for that matter if he thought of anything beyond the present. He probably did not even get a chance to even think of his day ahead, leave alone a future plan or a post life plan or for that matter anything to convey to anyone as his life was cut short. For us, we do not have one who was trusted and was someone to lean on. We hoped that he might come out of coma, but he was sinking slowly and it was distressing that he was alone as he passed away in the ICU with no one nearby.

I hope time is a healer. Sometimes, voids never can be filled or forgotten. Everytime now if we see the iron foldable chair at our house where he used to sit, everytime we hear a TVS-50 rumbling down the road, everytime we see a rectangular black bag of documents, we'd be remembering him.

May Vaidhyanathan Sir's soul, wherever it is, rest in peace.

[I am using this post as a personal vent to what I feel and hence disabled comments]