What do you do, when someone you wanted to write about dies, suddenly & unannounced? When you do not even get to see them in their last few days, to ask & see all those quaint things about them, so you can etch it in your memory for the future? Do you weep, like one of the family? Or do you crush your insides in this hollow feeling you have?
I am sure you won't cry, because though you loved them, you were not necessarily were in the habit of them in your lives, or sometimes you may. It's just this empty loss you feel, like perhaps what melancholy would feel. You regret not going home for that last one time, so you could see them fighting their last battle, living the last few days, just like they used to. Going to the Pan shop & laughing with their friends, talking to the young ones of their good old days, descending down the steep path to the river for the mid noon winter dip, sitting on the ghats (river bank) bantering with friends & neighbors, applying mustard oil to their now skinny but once muscular body. It just feels like a waste that you had to stay at this mushrooming city for a ridiculous job which stopped you from visiting home. From going to that forlorn house which sat quaintly blue between the row of semi-concrete & semi-mud houses. The doors of which, opened by two tiny girls, led to a room, which felt soothing & just right after the long walk in the blazing heat of my hometown.
Last time, when for a early morning cricket frenzy, you saw him playing, he was batting with his oldest & perhaps dearest friend at the other end of the pitch. Both were friends from the times when they reveled in the heroism of their youth. But now, seeing them play at their 40 odd years was comic. At one point in the game, you saw them both taking a run, running towards the same side of the pitch. I had laughed my teen laugh with the group & he had come back to sit with us & ruffled my hair. I think he liked the fact that he had been part of the joke that made people laugh so early in the morning. Anyways, people in my hometown, go to such things only to share some happy moments with their friends, before they get consumed in their everyday life. I as a kid, used to follow my brother to these games & always wondered why are they insane enough to miss out on their morning sleep, but being an adult I understand, how important it must have been for them, while their youth had passed by, they were still holding on to images which reminded them of it.
I could perhaps write on & on about it, but it is not my pain to share, though I feel the loss equally, because anyone who wishes to write & belongs to the town I belong to, would surely have observed Sunil Chowbey, Sunil Chacha, like a child observes the wonders around, sucking in all that was him, for someday when they are able to do justice to what he was in any of the stories we are able to write...