Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Pulak Lahiri was a giant of a friend. A friend in need is friend indeed! I met pulak long back when I was a young boy of seventeen. It was the day of admission and I was looking for the place where interview would be held. Noticing my hesitant steps a smart slim and confident looking person came forward and asked me " Have you come for the admission interview?" I nodded my head hesitantly. He showed me the way and told "Go ahead. Best of luck . Throw away your all inhibition. Dame it ! you are going to be a Cottonian indeed". Later, I knew the person was Pulak Lahiri, a well known football player of the school and college tournaments. Pulak was an educationist, Sportsperson, writer, a sports journalist and a compassionate friend but above all he was a humane per excellence!

He used to live at a hilltop house at Sukleshwar temple near Panbazar. Pulak was a class senior to us and was intimate with Pradip Baruah, then a great table tennis player and a brilliant college theater personality. Pulak, Khagen Dutta Baruah and Pradip were friends from youth.All were sportsmen to the core of their heart, friendly and vibrant.During the college days of Cotton I was not very intimate with pulak. Yet, we used to meet him at college canteen or and at Ashoka, panbazar for a cup of tea sometime. He was a witty person. His knowledge of sports was vast We used to nick named him as "Encyclopedia the sportica". Whenever there was any doubt on records relating to sports, pulak's was the final words. "How many times Viay Hazare scored centuries?" OR Did DaTTU Phadker played for Bengal or Bomaby before inclusion in Indian team"? "Who was the first Indian to score triple century"? All queries were settled by Pulak.

During our post graduate days, Pulak used to educate us which are the best shops in calcutta that catered to the tasty Sandesh in season. Is it Bhimnag or Nakur or SenMahsoy? He would always vote for Nakur. Which is the best printing press? Saraswati or Gossain. He would always select Saraswati. Which one is the best Bangla magine "Desh or Amrita"? He would name "Desh" to be far superior. Not that those things mattered much to us . yet it was good information in a collegiate rendezvous.But Pulak was always at the centre of the rendezvous. He used to preside over the session naturally. In fact he used to magasticaly preside over the gossip session and was known as the "Firstclass Addabaz". For him our general knowledge was at its best. After our post graduation we went away in two different directions. He went to education and I joined business house. But our common link remained to be the creativity. Since LBS have remained my major publisher, very often we used to meet at the bookstall presided over by Khagendra Nath Dutta Baruah.Here also though Butu presided over the session, Pulak used to be the Master of the ceremony. Here I used to meet many wellknown writers including Biremdra Kumar Bhattacharyya,Lakhmi Nandan Borah, Sananta Tati and Suren Medhi. As soon as pulak saw us coming, he would yell to Darika,an assitant, for organising hot black tea and ask us " hey, how about a peg of Rum now?" The black tea was nick named as Rum. Most of the time I would reply " rather a glass of coffee liqure would be preferable". Bhutu, knowing my preference, always sent for Coffee from Ashoka.

One day during ninties of the last century pulak came to me at looit Sora where I used live then for sometime while visting Gauhati. He said let us edit a book of poems written by Nabakanta Barua. I was surprised. I asked him Did you ask the permission of the poet? His poems are wellknown already. Why do you want to edit it? Already all the copies of "Hey Mahanar..." were sold out. He replied "it would be different kind of publication where some of the selected poems of the poet would be printed. Bhutu wants to publsih it that way. He took permission of Barua sir with a rider that in this project you should be also associated". The conversation of that day ultimately resulted in a slick book of poems later, which was distributed along with a CD of recitation. The publiction was recived well by younger generation. Bhutu's dream came true for the efforts put up by Pulak!

Pulak's son worked for a while as an executive in our company. One day he rang up from Gauhati informing me that he is visiting calcutta to meet me. I asked why do you have to visit calcutta? I would visit Gauhati next week. we can meet then. He insisted that he needs to met me soon. I asked him to tell me over phone his problem. He hesitated first then told "Look Gautam, I am very upset. My son wants to leave the job at garden.
what is this? I do not want him to leave the job of Magor. He is getting a job in Bombay." I replied " convey my greetings to him. Tell him he has done well. You should not stop him. It is his life. Why should you interfare? If he does not change how would he go up?" Ultimately he agreed to the request of his son and allowed him to join the new job. Pulak somehow thought in case his son leaves the job I would feel bad and he would be embarassed. This was a wrong perception of his. When I explained he felt relieved. He never wanted to upset his friends from Youth till now.

I am little surprised to hear the sad news of his demise. He had no0 sickness and was robust. I got the news too late. This was the time when terror did hit Gauhati. everyone was talking to me but forgot to mention about his demise the same day when more than Ninty people died. When I got the news it was too late. His son came, performed last rites including memorial and religious services. Whom do I communicate with for expressing my grief? I talked to my wife and thought I would visit gauhati and meet Pradip Baruah ,his life long friend to express my condolences. Pulak was never a high flier, always a high achiever with silence. He truelly left for his heavenly abode silently without the gaze of his lots of admirers.He was great person full of humility and humanity. I lighted up a lamp today to pay my respect to the memory of Pulak. Surely, God will bless him!

1 comment:

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

My deepest sympathy to all who knew him. I am so sorry.