(that was Sudhirda with my daughter on her sixth birthday)
He was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas in February, and we were all told we must simply wait for him to die, so I pensioned him off and he went home, and lingered on for a few months, steadily wasting away, until this morning, Monday July 10, 2006, I was told that he passed away more or less peacefully last night. God rest his soul. ‘He was my friend, faithful and just to me…’, he had brought me up right since I was a toddler, had stuck around like my shadow through an incredible number and variety of vicissitudes, had been my all-round factotum, comrade in arms, shoulder to weep upon, ever smiling, uncomplaining drudge ever willing to oblige, someone I could trust with everything except what was beyond his ken and work alongwith at mundane chores and laugh and pass the time of day with when no one else was there, and now, after forty years, ‘aaj sathe nei chirosathi shei more puraton bhrityo’. No one who hasn’t known me and us will ever know what the ‘feudal’ relationship at its best can be, how little else there is in the world to compete with it (I have seen too few marital and filial and corporate relationships that can hold a candle) and how much I have lost. ‘Any man’s death diminishes me,’ of course, but some few diminish you much more than the rest – and for the remainder of my life I shall be a much diminished man. It is my great good fortune that God in His infinite mercy has answered a part of my prayers, in that Sudhirda died with the minimum of pain and indignity, and it will always be a matter of agonizing regret that he wasn’t given a few more years of peace and rest and fun in my care, as I had been trying to provide for him over this last decade, as very humble and inadequate recompense for everything. Childish I may be, but I will never be able to fly again without feeling a pang that I could never take you along with me. Goodbye, old friend. The thought that I might meet you again in a better place will greatly reduce my own suffering when death comes calling for me. If there are more lives to come, you will be a happy prince next time round, and may I have the good fortune to be your servant.