Its happened again! Another face to face with death! In the last 6 days since Mandir fell down, all possible belief systems have resurrected. All theories from the seers across time have been remembered and thought about. "its always the right time", "whatever is happening is right", "who can change what God wills", "Death is the logical conclusion to life", "Who are we to say what is right or wrong?" etc and many more.
But I am still hurting! I am hurting because I never saw him awake. I saw him a few hours before he was pronounced dead, lying in the ICU with many pipes and drips sticking into his smiling face and body. His body was warm because of the ventilator and the drips, yet he was lifeless. His energy, it seemed, had left him a couple of days back. He was dead! And it sucks.
Knowing Mandir for a decade and a half was good enough for anyone to fal in love with the laughter, with the magnificient cooking and the zeal for life that he exuberated. I cant forget his laughing face and noone can whoever saw him that way. He introduced me to the Didgeridoo 10 years back. Everyone used to keep ticking him off for playing a hollow wooden branch. I saw the didgeridoo with him and was completely fascinated and then my journey with the instrument started. He taught it to so many of us but only I stuck to the instrument and have been playing it for a decade now.
I met Mandir 2 years back again after he returned from Canada and we jammed again. He pointed out that he is happy that I carried on playing the didgeridoo. And immediately after that we ate. Eating is also what connecting Mandir and me. During the month of Ramadan, years back, in the freezing Delhi Winter, Mandir and I would leave around 3:00 AM for Jama Masjid to eat Nihari. We did that so often. We travelled to Pushkar together for New Years and sat on the dunes and laughed and enjoyed. That was Mandir for me! I used to pick him up at 1:00 AM couple of times a week to go and check the security guards. That used to be a bonding session between us. We used to talk, laugh, crack jokes as if it was the last day on earth and there was a competion on who could laugh more.
And now he is not there! Because we burned his body on August 24th, 2010 after the great soul donated his eyes. He was pronouned brain dead at 4:30 PM. Reason: a Grade V Brain haemmorage. Was this the end of him? I dont think so because his legacy will live on through his eyes which will give light to a blind person very soon. There will be someone who will wear our friend's eyes and see the world through them. I am hoping this man would love the colours of life in the same way Mandir did.
What I saw in Mandir's family has left me speechless. How his mother controlled her tears throughout the agonizing 24th of August. She shed two tears when I reached the hospital from the airport and shed 2 tears when she saw off her son while he was being taken for cremation. His wife of not even 2 years, Deeksha, was still, in a daze, almost looking drugged. She accompanied her husband on his last journey. Abir, Mandir's brother, who stood like the Rock of Gibraltar, unmoved, unphased, still, composed while he informed his family about his brother passing away and then performing the last rites with the same calm. Hats off to the family! I couldnt hold myself, i cried from time to time, moreso because I was left speechless.
Mandir's death brought all us friends together. Devjeet and Subro left from Calcutta, a night before. Trimon, Ronty, Soumya, Jaya, Neha, Manish and I reached on 24th. Chetan met us there. Damyant, Priyanka, PS, Himanshu and Abhishek couldnt make it but were with us in spirit bleeding and crying just like us. We connected, laughed about memories, about the same incidents that we laugh about everytime for the last 15 years, remembering him as a person of infectious laughter.
Dear God, I am not here to blame you for taking him away from all of us, because he hasnt gone. He is there in our hearts, now and for ever. His molecular structure has been burned but he exists at an atomic level here on earth. Dear God, I am upset but not angry with you because you know what is best and life and death are two rules of your game that you play with us. Dear God, I have one single request, gift Mandir one thing. Free him of the cycle of life and death and let him gain divine freedom.