Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Epitaph for a Friend Who Made and Lost A Fortune!

Mr TDR was a good friend of mine. He is no more in this world now. 

Since we humans are not so broadminded to open our lives to the public domain, I am not daring to reveal his name lest some of his near or dear ones may find it unacceptable to them for various reasons. So, I simply prefer to identify him as Mr TDR.

I got introduced to him some time in mid 1980 in a hostel meant for the junior officer trainees of the company where I too joined as a trainee officer. My friend Mr TDR belonged to the senior batch. Since the majority of the 150 odd hostel mates there belonged to Hindi and Bengali speaking regions with a few each from the linguistically different south Indian states, there soon developed a special bond among those few linguistic minority groups.

The company in those days was not so comfortable with the idea of selecting female officers, though it did select one or two occasionally. But the junior officers' hostel was strictly a male dominion in those days.

My batch of officers did not have any one from my home state Kerala and I was a loner in my batch on that count. And that helped me to get entry in to the linguistic group of the few Malayalam speakers belonging to senior batches. Since I was of more or less the same age as my seniors, my acceptance in the senior batch fellows from my home state was not much difficult. Besides, we were a very small group as compared to the Hindi or Bengali groups.

TDR was one or two inches shorter as compared to the rest and often I sensed his inferiority complex getting surfaced as an assertion for establishing some kind of superiority. Often we youngsters argued on various issues ranging from politics, cinema, sports, religion and the like during our spare times and no one was very willing to accept others' view points in such debates. The arguments often used to go high pitch and caused some irritations only to be stopped just before the onset of angry outbursts.

Yet we were good friends and could not think of being alone without the company of the others at times when we are not attending out official on the job training duties. Obviously those were the times we were all unmarried eligible bachelors!

The modest bicycle was our mode of transport in those days. Owning a motorized vehicle was one of our dreams that we wanted to accomplish at the earliest opportunity.

Mr TDR was the first in our group to fulfill that dream while we were still in the hostel. None of us knew the art of riding the the motorized two wheeler or four wheeler at that time. Yet, I remember obliging him to accompany him to the showroom to buy his brand new scooter. I rode his new vehicle alone in the night by experimenting with it. In the process I learnt it and became his driving tutor the next day! Within a few months TDR bought a second hand Fiat car. He and me learnt driving in that car some time in the early 1981.

He was very enthusiastic about his work as a maintenance engineer in the production department where he worked while I worked as a process plant operations manager in another department. He was very enthusiastic in inviting me and showing me the various innovative ideas he had employed and put to practice. His improvised methods of reactivating various non working and non attended air pollution control equipment was indeed commendable considering the manner in which his seniors preferred to neglect those. He was too critical of the plant designers and often used to tell me about better ways of designing the plant systems. In another couple of years the plant management fulfilled his desire by transferring him to the engineering design department where he learnt the techniques of practical plant design. In another couple of years' time I too was placed in the same department, but in another work area. Now we both have become professional colleagues in the same functional department.

During this time we both got married and began to live in the same apartment building. His wife and my wife too became good friends. Being a prevalent practice for some Hindu castes in southern India, his wife was his own first cousin. Initially he resented this marriage from being taking place as he considered his bride as his sister but had to succumb to the wishes of his parents and relatives. Even after his wife began living with him at the distant place of his official work, he was not fully settled to this marriage. Soon marriage discords began developing in their life. Later, I had to step in the role as a marriage counselor to them and the problems got resolved for some time only to blow up fully to a divorce in another few months. The divorce was as in fact not because of him or his wife but as a result of the hurt egos of the elders of both families.

TDR remained unmarried for a few years after divorce. During this time he was becoming more and more secluded and trying to spend his time by inventing more work for him. Later his family convinced him for marrying again. In another one or two years' time he resigned from our company and left the place with his second wife and his small girl child. His resignation was due to his protest against his superiors who, in his opinion did some favoritism in giving promotion to his not-so-efficient colleague. When he drove off with his second wife and his small kid in his car to the distant place in the west coast of India, I was the only one to see him off and wish him the best.

His bosses in the new private company where he joined encouraged him professionally. He was encouraged to pursue a PhD in engineering from a premier engineering institute and soon he accomplished that. He wanted to excel in his field and rise in professional career and soon he was successful. He became a General Manager in some multinational and soon emigrated to a foreign country. In his pursuit for higher professional achievements, he found his family as a hindrance. He left them back in India and spent the rest of his prime time in the foreign land and even became a citizen there.

He had been in contact with me during these years, though the communications used to be once or twice in a couple of years. He faced professional successes and failures in the foreign land. Overall he made a financial fortune for his wife and daughter who stayed back in his home country.

A couple of years ago, he decided to return back to India. During this time he became a Hindu philosopher with much self study in Advaida Vedanta. It was the time when I too got my search towards spiritual truths after much studies in almost all the existing religious texts to find the most convincing truths in the Urantia Book. In our philosophic exchanges, regrettably, my friend TDR could not advance beyond the Advaida Vedanta where his mind got stuck up.

He returned to India with higher enthusiasm to achieve his unfulfilled dreams. Now, he had enough money to pursue further. Unfortunately, something happened about which I have little idea, after he reached back. I found him gloomy while he talked to me over phone once in a while from his Indian location few thousand kilometers away from my location.

A few months later, he called up me to inform me that he had become a Sannyasi of the Hare Krishna movement at Vrindavan and began to live there. Obviously, he could not connect to his family at this stage. In yet another couple of months he left that perhaps with some disillusion. He began to stay with his elderly parents, his wife and daughter staying away from him. He had money to make one more big house for him. He began to stay in his newly constructed house. But destiny was going to be different. Soon he was affected by cancer. He wanted to meet me and I made efforts to travel to his place and meet him. The signs of the dreaded disease and the equally dreaded medical treatments were obviously visible. We had nothing to talk.

After all what was there to talk? 

His wife and daughter were no more living with him. They made some occasional visits. His old parents were now taking care of him! I asked him about his divorced wife. She did not re-marry and she died of blood cancer some years ago. He informed me.

In just another few months time late in the midnight I received a call from him. I was shocked when I heard him telling me as if abandoned by all near and dear ones and sitting alone in some strange railway station of north west India, far away from his home. He wanted me to help him. Later, my inquiries revealed about his mental condition. It was his delusion due to the ill effects of his cancer treatment. He called me from his hospital bed!

In another couple of months I went to meet him again. This time he was alone, almost abandoned in a palliative care unit of a private hospital. He had become a skeleton, yet capable of talking and smiling, lying helplessly on the bed. We won't meet again, he whispered to me holding my hand.

We would have met some day, my friend. I could not tell that to him loudly for him to hear.

I left in a few minutes. Memories of many past events played in the back of my mind.

In just another two month's time, sitting thousands of kilometers away, I heard the news. TDR was no more.

He had escaped from the vicissitudes of this life.

I do not have the caliber to judge about the achievements of his life!

May his soul rest in peace till it is adjudged for some personality revival!

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