News of deaths are not infrequent in today’s world. Many die every day around the world and many of these deaths don’t move us and even those that move us do so momentarily, after all we are human beings and we do feel sad about say a bus accident, a terrorist bombing killing innocents and so on and so forth.
We all know that while life may be uncertain the only certainty that comes complimentary with life is death.
Even then there come deaths which shake us badly and shake us to the very core.
18th of September, 2018 was one such day.
I was in office and into a meeting when Ratan Sengupta, an old and senior ex colleague of mine, called me. Being in a meeting I was unable to take the call. It was then that Ratan da texted me and I reproduce the language of the text verbatim:
“ Achintya Mallik Passed way today morning at Mumbai”
My return call to Ratan da and a few more colleagues / ex colleagues / friends confirmed the news.
On the fateful day Achintya went through his usual morning routine, had breakfast, packed his lunch and left for office. He took an auto from Hiranandani Gardens, Powai to the Kanjur Marg station ( from where he would board the train for office ), stepped out of the auto and collapsed. The auto driver and a few passers by propped him up by the road side and used his mobile to make a few calls on the basis of last few numbers dialed and the speed of technology carried the news through calls, texts and whatsapp messages everywhere.
The time of death could have been around 8.55 AM or so maybe 9.00 AM. At around 8.45 AM he had sent the following whatsapp message in his friends group. Perhaps the last communication of his life.
His colleagues from National Insurance Mumbai rushed to the spot, retrieved him and carried him to the Hirandani Hospital where he was declared “Brought Dead”
At 56 a life had come to an end sending tremors of sadness among friends and foes ( He had none ) and leaving the family devastated.
I perhaps met him for the first time in the year 1996 and was not impressed at first sight. Here was a boy in very simple attire who hardly spoke, always smiled at anything and everything and seemed to be too casual about his demeanour and gait. He did not fit in my own muddle-headed description of an officer.
Gradually we became personal friends first, family friends later and realized how wrong and in-accurate my first impression had been. Hiding behind the shadows of what I just described was a highly intelligent, calm and composed human being. A person who was an Aeronautical Engineer from IIT, highly efficient and capable at his work, had not the slightest airs about anything, could smile away even at the very tense of situations and who was always eager to help anyone and everyone.
What amazed me was the purity of his heart and intentions and his uncanny ability to face any situation in office or personal life with a calmness of composure and a patent smile that went on to become a hallmark of Achintya. In many of my trying situations in life just his presence beside me had always been a great pacifier.
His wife Rakhi would always jocularly tell my wife that they were a unique husband and wife who never had a fight. You know why……………No matter what happened and no matter how angry Rakhi would be Achintya would never fight back, never utter a word, never try to defend himself and in his own hallmark style just stay calm and silent with that patent smile of his hanging on his lips. In the absence of fuel, therefore. the fight would die at birth or get nipped in the bud.
Many a times I even thought that this was perhaps the only grievance Rakhi had about her husband that she never succeeded in engaging him in a heated argument or debate.
Once my father fell seriously ill and was hospitalized. The situation was serious as he was passing blood with his urine. I had decided to stay at the hospital but the situation being tense I needed company. I called Achintya and he was there in a jiffy. He spent two days and two nights at the hospital and every night we would sleep together on the floor and get up to attend to my father when required. During these two nights my father kept passing blood with his urine and as advised by the doctor we would collect my father’s urine in bottles for testing the next day.
During those days Achintya was like my own brother helping me to collect the urine without any sense of disgust or disdain. His mere presence was soothing enough to make me believe that my father would come out of this and come out he did.
I walked out of the hospital not only with my father but also with a sense of great respect for this man. Whenever I have thought of him the one image that would always cross my mind was his presence at the hospital beside me. Even as I write this I can visualize the hospital room with my father on the hospital bed and Achintya and me in the room on the floor trying to catch up with some sleep.
In those days, mid nineties , he would smoke a lot — a habit which he discarded in a couple of years. Most of the times I would borrow cigarettes from him and on many occasions out of the pack of ten I would end up smoking Seven/eight leaving only three/two for Achintya. One day he told me, jokingly of course, that he would calculate the number of cigarettes I took from him and find out the monthly amount which I was blowing away at his expense. Not to be let down by this I retorted back saying that he should consider himself lucky that I left for him the two or three cigarettes which should be accounted as his savings. This was a cause of much laughter amongst us and the joke went around our office and our colleagues too and many would actually pull Achintya’s leg saying that Prantik was actually ensuring a savings for him instead of an expense.
He lived his life in a very simple way. Extravagance, the lure of consumerism and brands never touched him. He spent what was needed, made no compromises on his spending when required and at the same time was never an extravagant or an impulsive spender.
I have seen him struggle with his finances in a big way when he decided to buy an apartment at Kolkata. He surrendered all his Life Insurance Policies, channelized his savings, took a House Building Loan from the Company and bought a small flat at Garia, Kolkata. The flat was small, short of space but abounding in love and hospitality. Whenever we went to the flat both Achintya and Rakhi would go overboard to ensure that we were comfortable, felt at home and that we never left without a very fulfilling and wholesome meal.
I never heard him complain about anything. Not even about his job. Many a times I thought that God had forgotten to put the word complaint into his being. He was as comfortable in an over crowded bus or train as he was in a limousine. He could happily sleep on the floor in the absence of a bed and I gradually realized that life could never disturb him, definitely not on the outside. If there was some disturbance or turmoil inside it never came out.
He was a great father and a great family man too. He brought up his son in the most practical way possible and Guddu eventually went on to study at Ramakrishna Mission Narendrapur, Jadavpur University and eventually went abroad to Spain, France and Germany for his higher studies. I met him after long recently following the demise and he had blossomed into a man of 24. He appeared calm, quiet and composed as well, a trait which I am sure got passed onto him from Achintya and Rakhi.
Achintya was proud of his son and you could sense the pride whenever he spoke about Guddu. I am sure he did not speak about Guddu much to many people. It was not his habit to talk about the accomplishments of his son. When he spoke about Guddu to me he would always refer to Guddu as “Shriman” and this world echoes in the hollow recesses of my memory now.
He bought another flat at New Town, Kolkata and a big one this time, a 3 BHK Flat and proudly took me one day to show me the flat during its construction stage. The slabs were casted and the construction was on. He felt happy and relieved to have eventually managed to buy a decent sized flat. He would have never known then that in future he would not be there to enjoy the flat he so proudly acquired..
Quite some time ago when he was posted at Dumka he had met with a serious accident but pulled through it. He was transferred to Mumbai recently and stayed for long at the guest house. Eventually took up a Company Flat at Powai and shifted Rakhi only recently ( just about 20/25/35 days before his death ).
They had both called us and it was their desire that this year we would celebrate the Durga Puja at Mumbai together. My wife told Rakhi that she should now enjoy her life without tension as Guddu was doing well with his Doctorate abroad and so on and so forth. Rakhi said who knew what tension the future brings. None of us knew then that in the very immediate future Achintya would just drop dead in the most bizaare way and in the most untimely fashion.
As a group, ex colleagues and friends from National we had met a few months back at a club at Mumbai. Organised by Bhaskar and Sumona we had a wonderful evening and dinner together. Bhaskar, Subhankar, Amitabh, Sumona, Achintya and yours truly.
While this group in their fifties was largely discussing about retired life and pension Achintya was talking about getting transferred to another city in a few years which would allow him to savour in the flavour of another city of India as a part of his job.
The entire team of National pitched in to support on hearing about his death. Everything from the post mortem to the funeral was handled by colleagues and friends who loved him. They stood firm, they consoled and they cried. They are still around trying to help the family through this phase of crisis.
When the body was brought to the Cremation Ground at Vikhroli and laid supine on the slab it was decorated and embellished with flowers, garlands , incense and smeared with Ghee. What an Irony. The man who shied away from Public glare and all sorts of embellishments in life was decorated, embellished and garlanded in death.
I could not muster up the courage to look at the body. However, there is on thing I am sure of, that even in death just as in life, his lips would still have been curved up in that patent smile of his.
During the three days after the death, Rakhi would cling to my wife and cry. She kept hoping against hope that Achintya might just call or might just ring the bell and walk in. She held my hand and said
“Prantik da is he really gone”. I couldn’t reply because I was not sure if he was really gone. He seemed all around me with his inimitable smile.
Achintya knew Rakhi since she was in class XI. They had an affair and a marriage. One fine morning Achintya just walked up to Rakhi and said “Lets get married tomorrow”. This simple girl from the suburbs of Kolkata just obliged and thereby began a journey of togetherness “In Filmy Style” says Rakhi…….. looks blank, drops a tear or two and says
“ He passed way in Filmy Style too is it not”
Paramita and me didn’t have an answer again.
When I left Kolkata we were not in regular touch with Achintya and Rakhi but in touch we were though a bit infrequently.
He kept a tab of my whereabouts, my life, my children and so did I. For all these years I have been trying to find one moment when Achintya was angry or had a fight. I haven’t yet been able to find one. All those who happen to read this and who also knew Achintya to them I say…. I am looking for a single moment when he was angry and shouting and fighting. If you find any such a moment do let me know….
There are many memories, many incidents and recounting all of them would take up a life time of blogging for me.
Achintya very soon we will join you. We have to because that is the certainty of life. Friends and Foes ( did you have any? ) alike. We will meet again and we will start again like the inimitable smile which never left you, like the candle and the wind, like the rubber flip flops which you used to wear, like the wills navy cut packets, like the home that you built brick by brick with layers and layers of love and caring, like the car that you bought like the book on Aviation Insurance that you wrote but never gave me a copy, like the fried fish you ordered for me when I visited you in office.
There was a gathering long overdue. Subroto and Mallika, Joydeep, Suman, Debasish and Dolly, Me and Paramita, You and Rakhi.
There was so much of life left in you. How could you just leave mate? How could you just throw away your wicket. There are many more overs to go and many more runs to make. I look up from the Non Strikers’ end but don’t see you. I look all around and don’t see you. You have already walked into the Pavillion and disappeared.
I am blank, I am stranded at the Non Strikers end, I look at the horizon and hope for bad light……… at least for now.
In Hinduism we believe in the passing away of the soul and in the cycle of death and rebirth till we attain Moksha. Will Achintya be reborn? I don’t know. Will Achintya attain Moksha? I don’t know. Will I hear is voice again? I know I wont….
Agni Dahe na Jare ( That which fire cannot burn )
Shastre chende na jare ( That which weapons cannot pierce )
Na Hanyate ayee Hanyaman Sharire ( Immortal in this mortal body )
P.S: The obituary written by friends is reproduced below.
It is said that good men are so loved by God, they get called to the heavens earlier.
Mr Achintya Mallick (6th December 1962 – 18th September 2018) was a great employee, a better father, and a best friend to many.
Mallick Da, as he was fondly called, will always be remembered for his soft, humble nature, which gracefully hid the sheer volume of talent and knowledge he held. Nobody ever saw him scold anyone, no matter how grave a crime or insubordination someone committed. He always had a way of getting people to turn around, find a better path, and love their life. And he always did it with a smile on his face.
While nothing can ever fill the void left behind by him, we vow to carry forward his legacy and his teachings, so that the world can be blessed with more people who think and care like him.
We pray for his soul to rest in peace, and hope that his family is able to cope with this untimely accident…
Our deepest condolences are with his family…
With heartfelt sorrow: