Our thinking changes as we mature, at least we think so. When talking to younger people, we say “Oh! I have seen many deaths! You learn to take them in stride as you grow older and mature!” Both right and wrong! Probably what we learn over a period is to overcome the same earlier than other people.
Ullya phoned me last night to check if I knew that Ramya had died in the evening. (Pardon the pet names- we have been using these for more than fifty years so changing that habit is going to difficult.) Ramya is Ramesh Purandare; he passed out of the Electrical Engineering course with us. Ramya was a friend, but then he was a friend to all. He lived in Sadashiv Peth while in college, and we knew his elder brother Suresh too. Ramesh was our teammate from the softball team. He made all his career in Pune in a company called Mark Elektrics and was their GM. Vijay, another friend got in touch with the company to get his photo. They shared some photos and other details about him immediately.
Today morning when I woke up, I had another three messages from friends who were in our softball team. As per the blog title, the news proved to be true! It made me sad, but at the same time, I went into a reverie! With this, I went back fifty years and remembered my COEP and hostel days. So, pardon me for the second time using the short or pet names!
Ramya was a jovial person, and he had a quicksilver mind. He used to make a pun (not fun) while chatting. We had two or three locations in our college where groups used to have the adda going between two lectures; many times, the sessions continued during lectures too! Ramya had acted in a famous drama called “Zopi Gelela Jaga Zala.” He had played the role of a Parsee gentleman. It was in our college gathering. He had performed well for an amateur. A minor coincidence! I had played the same role in the drama ten years later in our Colony Ganapati festival.
While playing softball, Ramya was aggressive. He used to be the catcher and would control the game by guiding others to perform. He had a clear view of the field, as he was the catcher. But he had a good judgement of what was happening in the game. We would change the tactics in between as per his suggestions. Once in a match, I dropped two catches one after another! He came running to me and said, “Panya, don’t worry, it can happen to the best. Be a little patient, and your confidence will come back.” We finally won that match. Usually aggressive, Ramya was soft and patient with me on my bad day!
When Ramya was in any group, there would always be laughter! He had stories to tell. He would sometimes share stories of how he had goofed up and would laugh about it.
Taking forward my argument about becoming mature in the face of death, I would say that in most of the cases, it is true. But when some close friend from college days dies it hits you. It would be bravado when I say that I can easily handle Ramya’s death. Ramya and I infrequently met after college days, as typically happens. Both of us had settled in Pune, but we were all busy making our careers and raising our families. I would get updates about him from common friends.
Different people handle such situations differently. I had shared the top photo on our WhatsApp group. Sharya, my roommate in the hostel days reacted with a comment, “This is not Ramya as I remember. Will someone forward his picture from Modern cafe where we used to meet. RIP RAMYA! With cancer, Panya has reported I think he has escaped the sufferings and that is what we expect.”
I replied to Sharya, “Sharya whether we like it or not, the years take their toll! I only met Ramya a couple of times in the last 15 years or so. Before that, I went to his office whenever I was on that side. Changes do take place in everyone, but your memory recalled the time when you last saw him , i.e. when we were in college! We also change, but we don’t realise it.”
I remember an incident when my mother died years back. A nephew of mine lives in the US. When we called him to inform him about the death, he just would not accept it. For about seven/eight years, he had not come to India. He said, “Oh, come on! How could she die? She was so healthy and looked hale and hearty!” I told him, “Buddy since you last saw her, she had become weak and had become frailer. She did have some health issues, and she was tapering off!” Finally, he accepted death. Sharya’s response was something similar. He could not imagine that Ramya was also seventy plus and his photo appears to have been taken after his first cancer treatment which had taken toll of his body.
There are some cynical “rascals” of friends. ( I am using the word rascals in the good sense) They were actually shaken but were trying to show bravado by making some funny and awkward jokes. Ramya would have laughed loudly at those jokes.
Ramya, buddy, what was the hurry to go? But I know that you were a disciplined person. When HE called, you must have just said to near ones, “Ok, HE has called me. I need to go!” I know that you must have gone through a lot of pains for the last couple of years. Chemo and Radiations do batter one’s body! (Probably you were not aware that I had gone through the same treatment six years back) If I had known about your illness, I would come to share with you my experiences. We could have discussed some strategy on the home turf! In that field Ramya, I was more senior to you!
I got all the final details from our common friend Dipya. Ramya I am sure you faced the onslaught bravely. We sports persons are used to victory and loss. But in the final “call” there is loss as far as others are concerned. But you must have accepted it bravely. I am sure, if we had been in touch, you would have told me, “Panyaaa, don’t you come for the final rites with pandemic around.”
The philosophers always say that you come alone in this world and go back alone. Ramya you followed the philosophy to the last T! None of your friends could come to see you merge with HIM! Come on, man, you chose a slightly wrong time to go. You had hundreds of friends, but none could say bye-bye to you for the final time!
Don’t worry all of us are outwardly trying to show that we are brave, but in solitude, you know what will happen!