I once asked him, “When do you sleep?”. He said pretty casually, “While travelling or a few naps here and there, whenever possible.” I never saw him feeling sleepy.
He never had a day-off from work. He was always cheerful and soft spoken. He had troubles and concerns about his business but he never seemed overwhelmed by them.
He was literally never free and hence did not take family vacations. His life was a hurried one that involved falling for the love of his life, fathering his only son and ensuring continuity of his business.
His parents and his elder brother could have bailed him out pretty early, but for reasons unknown, they could not. I recall he mentioning about the debt burden, he inherited, that cannot be repaid by liquidating his unit. The debt trap engulfed his work and family life. He struggled but still stayed on.
Five years ago when I met him, he was bald and still driving his scooter. He had calls to attend every now and then while he volunteered to pick me from airport. He was bald and had a pot belly.
His persistence at work was taking a toll on him. And yet he put up a smile of an optimist. He smartly dodged any sympathetic gestures and defended his individuality and self-respect.
On June 7, 2018 he was at home when he complained of some uneasiness. He requested his family friend to drive him to the nearest hospital. He gave up while on the way. He was declared dead at the hospital.
My friend is dead. A friend of times when I was unsettled and poor. A friend who always cheered me up. A friend who never disagreed to what I said. A friend who listened patiently.
I will miss him since he was not even 50 when he gave up. He called me a week back and I replied, “I call you back.” I should have taken his call. He must have had something to talk about.
Our Manik is no more. God! please rest his soul in peace. He is tired. Manik, it will be tough for Shalu without you but then your son is a blessing.
I will remember you once again, if I can, when I breath my last.