Thursday, November 6, 2008


It was a dark fall evening.On 20Th October,2008, lazily sitting on the western balcony of my house at Kolkata, I was reading a poem written by my friend Dr. J.l. Borkakoti of London School of Economics. The first paragraph of the poem was significant:

" To suck life from the booming drums
when blood freezes the skull,
Is not for you
To seek shelter from the strokes scythe,
From the stare of vacant shining plates."

Hardly I finished reading the first stanza, the telephone rang . I picked up the
phone. It was Smita, my daughter in law, from Castaic , LA. She enquired about our health and welfare. After exchanging pleasantries she pensively revealed the sad news of demise of Tapan Kumar Dutta. Smita said in a husky voice, uncle Tapan passed away peacefully at Hospital in Los Angles. I became thoughtful. Memories of past years passed through my mind. Only a few days ago I called up Aparna,his lovely wife enquiring of Tapan's health. But I could never realised that end was so near.

I lost track of Tapan after our college days for he went outside the State for his higher studies and to work, there after for a long time, abroad. I continued to work in India. In fact we never met during our working life though I continued to get information about his development, well being and career. Almost after twenty five years again we first met in LA(courtesy Dr.Maya and Anjan Bhaumik)& there after in Guwahati whenever he used to visit home. (During my visit to USA on official work during Seventies & eighties I never met him for he was working then in Saudi Arabia).
The news of Tapan's demise made me sad & nostalgic.It was a personal loss for me. He was my childhood friend. We lost track of each other for long years but regained contact almost after twenty five years. Tapan was a vibrant person. He had a personality which impressed everyone. He could endear himself with all ages. Tapan was not only an efficient engineer but a very compassionate human being. The thought of his death so early made me pensive. After receiving the news I went to my study and prayed for a while for the peace of the departed soul. We also invoked the blessings of God to provide strength to his wife and children to withstand the loss with a sense of resignation. A leaf of my childhood days passed by my eyes.....

We both were born in forties of last century & grew up together in the same area of Uzanbazar, Guwhati town of Assam. This was the area where we were raised in our early childhood.We played here & went to private libraries and were educated in well known schools.I met Tapan for the first time when we were twelve years old through a neighbourhood friend Utpalananda Bharali. Utpal and Tapan were great friends and classmate in Don Bosco. I was in Kamrup Academy. Both the schools were well known for its games and social activities beside academics. Don Bosco was an English medium school and Kamrup Academy was a vernacular school. Tapan learnt English under the supervision of Father Burns,an Irish Priest of Catholic order. Naturally Tapan could articulate his thoughts exceedingly well in English as a young boy. His power of expression impressed me most and I was awe struck during those days listening to vocabulary of Tapan. I felt proud when Tapan used to come to our house to invite me for a game of table Tennis.There was a famous photo studio own by late Dhani Ram Borah near our house in M.C. Road. In fact this was a great rendezvous for famous people like Kamkhya Nath Thakur,(artist and commissioner of scout) Purna Bharali,( Scientist) Golap Chandra Chowdhury( Headmaster) & Kirti Ram Baroowah(Doctor). All of them were famous people in their own right and they used to gather together regularly. In later years famous players of Assam used to meet at the same place to listen to radio commentary of test cricket. Tapan used to come to the studio to meet us and to play table tennis. In spite of our different schooling background we became good friend . This was possible for Tapan loved meeting and mixing with people.

Tapan was very intelligent & witty.He did not mind cracking jokes at his own expense. He was a fantastic human being. Though he was a student of science yet he loved recitation of poetry. I still remember when we met after twenty five years, his first question was : "Hey! what about your poems? Do you still write or not?" He was very happy that my poems in English were published by Oxford book of Kolkata. He had amazing power to remember small thing of life ! Helpful to his friends Tapan always enjoyed the achievement of his friends. A brave person always ready to face the turmoil coolly but never minced words. Even under challenging circumstances he never hurt any one. Humility & polish behaviour were his strength. The sportsman spirit was his hallmark.

As we passed out our matriculation we joined Cotton College.Tapan took to Tennis then . He played later regularly in India club. I played tennis for a short period but devoted more time to writing poetry, play and recitation.Tapan never took part in dramatics but he was very much interested in poetry. He used to encourage Ishan and me in our endeavour to write and recite poetry. I feel his loss greatly. How can I forget, it is at his suggestion, a group of Assamese resident gave me a reception, in a meeting, in LA few years back for writing a book of poems "A windowful of Sky" published by Oxford Books.

Tapan lived a truly satisfying life.Over the years we both grew up to become a senior citizen. I admired Tapan in my younger days for his vibrant personality. Yet I admire him now for his outlook towards life. He loved to enjoy life as it came!Tapan used to tell, "for a fool retired age is a bitter winter, but for a wise person it is a golden time for enjoyment." He told me "you must take care of your health to be able to reap the full benefit of retired life". Today Tapan is no more but his words are alive in my mind.There is a great difference between simply living a long life and living a full and rewarding life. According to a Buddhist philosopher "What is important is how much rich texture and colour we can add to our lives during our stay here on earth. However long that stay may be quality is the true value,not the quantity."
I am happy that Tapan lived a full & rewarding life. He added colour to his environment and in his relation with friend. He would be remembered for the quality of life he lived. Tapan's departure would crate a great void in us. We will be remembering him always- a bright vibrant friend who was long lost but regained eventually at last.! We pray Almighty for the peace of the departed soul.

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