Thursday, September 19, 2013

Farewell Call


Unfamiliar numbers appearing on my mobile phone screen annoys me.  It was with much irritation that I answered one such call that came last week. 

“Mr Matheikal?” enquired the voice which did not at all sound like the usual commercial voices that sought to sell an insurance policy or a stock market account.

“Yes,” I mellowed a bit.

“Do you recognise this voice?”


“Forgot me in a few years’ time?”

“Mr Bhat?”  I was excited at the sudden recognition.

“ Happy that you remember and are also delighted...” 

Mr V K Bhat was a colleague of mine at the school where I still teach.  He had to leave the school a few years ago due to health reasons.  He was in his early 50s when his kidneys failed.  His wife’s kidney saved his life.  Until two days back.

Mr Bhat is a memory now.  The news rattled me yesterday morning.  Just a week back I had assured him that I would visit him soon.  I couldn’t keep the promise.  He didn’t wait for it.   The news wouldn’t have been so shocking had he not contacted me recently.  Had he called me to say farewell?

He was one of the most pleasant personalities I was fortunate to live with.  Serenity was the hallmark of his personality.  Nothing really upset him.  He had very deep religious convictions which helped him surmount problems with a smile.  While he was undergoing treatment which required frequent visits to hospital, his wife met with an accident that fractured a limb and his son suffered a severe injury in the hockey field which rendered him incapable of taking anything except liquid foods.  An ordinary person would have buckled under the pressure of such calamities that descended like a flock of vultures.  Not Mr Bhat.  He was able to retain his serene smile.  The strength of a man’s character is seen in times of adversity.  Mr Bhat’s character inspired me.

His unexpected phone call made me want to see that smile once more.  I had made the plan to visit him soon.  But destiny had other plans. 

There’s one incident about Mr Bhat that I can’t forget.  It was 12 Sep 2002.  A year after I joined the present school as a teacher.  I was packing my bag and getting ready for my next morning’s journey to Kerala in order to attend my father’s funeral.  Mr Bhat came to offer condolences.  Before he left he placed in my hand a cheque for a sum of money larger than my monthly salary and said, “You may need it.”  I assured him that I didn’t need it.  He wouldn’t take back the cheque, however.  “You go and come back.  I’ll take the cheque later.”

I was not particularly close to Mr Bhat at that time or later.  It’s simply not in my nature to get too close to any person.  What prompted him to offer help to me?  I wondered at that time.  Later I realised that goodness comes naturally to many people.  Mr Bhat belonged to that category.   

For long I have had an ambivalent attitude towards death.  Death is sorrowful insofar as it takes away someone beloved to somebody.  But death is the ultimate liberation.  I am not able to view death as evil.  On the contrary, there is some beauty in death.  In spite of the pain it engenders inevitably. 

The pain will be carried by the tide of time until it vanishes beyond the horizon.  What remain will be memories of Mr Bhat’s smile with which he battled the vicissitudes of life.   

I extend my condolence to the bereaved family all of whom I knew personally, especially Mr Bhat’s sons both of whom were my students. 


  1. A very sad news.. for the 2 golden opportunities I had in sawan to enact as teacher on gods day I enacted him and feel blessed..may his soul rest in peace.. :(

  2. After reading the entire post, i realized that life plays its part ! when death occurs it always brings those forgotten memories to life .. such a person like Mr. Bhat is hard to find in today's life ! My Condolences ...

  3. An extremely unfortunate news. I remember the incident when he fell sick and Sahil got hit in IPSC hockey(I happened to be with him). The whole school contributed generously.

    A few days ago I learnt of the tragic news of Bhanu Sherawat's passing away. And now this. This is really sad.

    1. Things sometimes go awry...feel sad. One after another tragic events are taking place.
      Wish we could be with Sahil at this point of time. May he n entire family be strong.

  4. May his soul rest in Peace.
    touching tribute.

  5. A very saintly person. His life is a message. For small insects like me, it is very difficult to follow him. His calm and composed smile, timely advice and concern made me take him for a father. It was a pleasure to meet and talk to him. I only do not know how to make up for not meeting him in times of his adversity. Many times my mind thought of meeting him but I couldn't make it.

    A fitting tribute to Bhat sir.

  6. My Condolences and May his Soul Rest in Peace..

  7. Sorry that you could n't meet him! May he rest n peace!

  8. very sad to hear this..

    may his rest in peace....

  9. An innocent smile which never left his face under any condition good or bad. A man who disseminated the knowledge of nature and its laws. Whose short height can be mistaken to a foreign eye as weak and feeble but that's just a veil on his strong and determined personality. Death is not the end it's a transition. A transit towards serenity and benevolence. Wherever you are now, may we meet again soon. The disguise wouldn't be able to prevent me from looking right at you sir because we are connected from soul to soul.
    You will be sincerely missed!
    V.K Bhatt (A great Father , Husband , Friend , Teacher and the most important of all "a great Individual" )

  10. I don't know what to say but I remember an incident of my school and hostle life. It was evening at that time and we were having our prep . I was feeling homesick and I was crying in the class and teacher whose duty in our class was him. Everyone was doing his work. He came to me and said why are you crying then he put his hand in front of me and said come on shake hand with me but I was afraid that how could I shake hand with my teacher then he forced bit more and I had to do that then he said in his gentle voice that now we are friends . I looked at him and he was smiling I felt bit relax at that time.we will surely miss you sir may your soul rest in peace. And thank you Mathiekal sir for sharing this sorrow with us


One Crore-Rupee Question

A question paper of the Haryana Civil Services (Judicial Branch) examination was up for sale .   The price: one crore rupees. Th...