Thursday, March 8, 2012

My Dear Friend Dr KG Nayar -- A Requiem

Dr. K.G Nayar is no more. He has left us for good. "achan marichu', these words dripped like hot oil into my ear over the cell phone. Satya was sobbing, but remarkably strong and in control. I was in a class expounding on the virtues of non-attachment. I struggled in vain to control the tsunami of surging emotions in my heart. My listeners sensed that something was amiss. Satya mercifully didn't stay long on the phone. My voice cracked, but soon I regained control and continued my talk, though at the back of mind I was seeing Padma, Shobha and Satya against the pale shadows of Amma and Dr. K.G.

It all happened in a blink, before any one had time to react. The starting the institute, shifting to the new apartment, Amma's death, the inconsolable grief and suddenly from the blue with out any rhyme or reason, K.G took ill. The denouement of the tragic was relentless. Today he was hale and healthy and the following day he was in the ICU. I was following achan's daily health bulletins with abated breath. I assured Shobha and Padma every time they called that K.G will come out of this travail unscathed, that he is a fighter, that he has so much to do, that he is so strong to succumb to a dumb bacterium, and so on and so forth. But little did I know that I was only saying what Padma wanted to hear and what I wanted to happen. Karma was slowly and silently but mercilessly working on its agenda. It is not what we piously wish but what the universe wants that will happen. K.G had already switched sides and joined forces with the indomitable law of karma. He was packing up silently while we were chanting and praying and wishing not noticing the fading smile on his dry lips and tired eyes. I had no clue about K.G's pact with Yama. Padma and Shobha believed my oracle that K.G will survive and go back to work and that all will be OK.

For the last fifteen years Dr. K.G was my good friend, partner and guide. He was a man of few words, but for when he gives a presentation or teaching. He could be very eloquent, forceful and passionate when he discourses on a subject that is close to his heart. He never pushed himself. He intuitively knew that ultimately his view will prevail. He was a pragmatic visionary. Not that he didn't have his moments of doubts and depression. He was moody and often spoke under his breath. I rarely seen him raise his voice. I often felt that under the veneer of his detached calm he was a dreamy romantic. Always helpful, ready to shoulder responsibilities and making things happen. With Dr. K.G on my side I felt bold to take on any risky venture. He thought through complicated issues and brought to the table his vast experience as a marketing executive, journalist and professor. He had a large circle of close friends, admirers and adoring students. What distinguishes KG is his versatility, honesty, sincerity and dedication to work. Not only did he make things happen but also made them look aesthetically pleasing. He thought in prose but acted poetically.

Padma was worried about his smoking. Since ten years she has been requesting me to advice or even admonish him about this self destructive habit. We tried various stratagems to ween him away from it. But I didn't have the heart to directly confront him and remind him about something for which he had a fond weakness. He was so gentle and dignified, so vulnerable and self critical that an advice seemed to me superficial, hurting and infringing. He was a rose with its due share of thorns. One day I mustered enough courage and broached the subject to him. 'Could he ever think of or rather had he ever thought of giving up smoking for the sake of his daughters, grand children and well wishers who loved and adored him?' I was in my persuasive and diplomatic best. He cringed under my unexpected question, took a deep breath, then smiled a sad smile, and said, 'Swamiji, I will die if I give up smoking, I have been smoking and I think I will die smoking". Suddenly it dawned on me that the quintessential romantic that he was had fallen in love with smoking, and enjoyed looking through the curls of the smoke as it mingled with the morning mist. He was burning from both ends, he risked playing hide and seek with fate, he dared death.

Dr. K.G basked in the love of Ammumma. When she was in the hospital K.G was beside her. When Ammumma passed away K.G's will broke. He cried. He saw that one leg of the tripod collapsed. His spirit lost its balance. K.G's restless soul fluttered precariously, undecided, between Padma and Ammumma, lost its tenuous grip, and fell into the bottomless depth of the other world. May his good karma take the from of golden winged angels and lead his soul to his rightful place in the Surya Loka.

My heart aches to think that I will not see Dr. KG when I next visit Ernakulam. I will not see him sitting at the last row of the Ygna Sala in front of the book counter. Nor will I ever see him introducing the distinguished keynote speaker of the Mamman Mappillai Memorial lecture. I will not see my friend Dr. KG enlivening our trust meetings with his wit and wisdom. I will not see Dr. KG taking the devil's side with his dark humour in his arguments with Professor Sreedharan Nair. I often felt that Dr. KG's presence filled an audience and gave authenticity to a gathering. I will badly miss him, my dear friend.

I don't know how to console Padma, who went through all this with stoic calm. Padma is wise and strong. She had her moments of break down. But she showed remarkable resilience and dignity under stress. We can not ask more from her. She is a role model for all of us. May God and Guru give her enough strength to weather through this personal crisis and come out with deeper wisdom and purpose to dedicate the rest of her to the service of society. I also pray that Shobha and Satya be able to take this double blow with humility and understanding and grow in spiritual wisdom and maturity. One day we all will die, the earth will disintegrate and the sun will become charcoal and the universe will shrink into nothingness. Therefore, advises Lord Krishna to Arjuna, "na-tvam shochitum arhati, you shall not grieve".

Email sent on Sunday, 13/11/2011

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