Guru, or Gurubabu as I fondly called him, was junior to me academically yet each time two of us met ended with Guru blessing me in Odia ‘Hau Jaaw, Thikre Thaw’. Somewhat contemporary in JNU we would run into each other with our interaction being at best occasional. He came across as an easy going and affectionate person and I was quite fond of him. However, I quite remember the memorable evening of 25th June 1986 when we boarded the Mussourie bound bus at ISBT, Ajmeri Gate where Guru and I chose to be together at the rear of the bus. Then began our training at LBSNAA and we were a rambunctious group of 25 odd JNUites and Guru and I stuck up a very warm bonding which endured. We also were together in various Bharat Darshan programmes, especially the Army attachment in Uri at the LOC, J&K camp during Dec- Jan 86/87. With record snowfall, the place was ethereally beautiful and we did have a great time. While our batch is a close-knit group, being from the same State and same.
University, we stuck up an intimate relationship which further grew in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where we spent nine months at International Centre for Promotion of Enterprise as part of the long term trg. programme sponsored by DOPT.
It was a period of extreme bonding when we stayed in the executive hostel and had to make our meals together and many evenings were spent enjoying the drinks and listening to music. We had joined a gym and used to do prodigious amount of walking on those beautiful lonely roads of the Julian Alps. We cycled long distances and explored nearby areas in Europe especially some trips to Venice which was just 170 Kms away. Later, our family joined us for 3 months and our children really enjoyed their summer vacation.
Again, as it happened, Guru joined as Joint Secretary in the Commerce Ministry where I had by then worked the longest. Ravi Capoor, Guru and I from the same batch were in the ministry at the same time. I have since then returned to the State but no trip to Delhi would be complete unless I had a cup of coffee in his chamber at Udyog Bhawan and some gup shup. Since the emergence of this pandemic, trips to Delhi became infrequent but we did our catch-up on phone. His wife Anjali was down with Covid last year around the time I too was under treatment for the disease and we exchanged notes a number of times. This time around I got to know his having the infection a little later after he was admitted in AIIMS. Like others, I too waited for any news of his recovery but alas every succeeding day brought gloomier tidings. We all hoped and prayed that there would be a miracle and he would be back with us. It was not to be. And after a long battle my friend was gone. It’s so heartbreaking, so tough to fathom. What could be going on in the heart of his wife and children is not hard to imagine!
However the response led by the Hon’ble Prime Minister and multitude of dignitaries in the country in eulogizing him in his passing by remembering his supreme dedication and commitment is some solace but the pain will last… till we ourselves are no more!
Au Revoir my friend !!