RIP Bhima –my cousin and best friend
I met Bhima as a slightly older child in 1947. He was living with his father and aunt in a god forsaken village in the God’s own country. I had just come from a big town and Bhima’s father made me a horn using the Papaya leaf. That day I enjoyed playing with the little, tiny Bhima. When Bhima was 5 year old his mother had died. His father who was son of a rich land lord had become very poor by then. Later I understood that my father was supporting the family. A few years later Bhima’s father died of Tuberculosis. The 11 year Bhīma was taken by my father to help him in the running of his hotel in Secunderabad. A few years later my father took me along with him to study in an English medium school there. The only child companion that I had at that time was Bhima. We grew up together as brothers and friends. I knew of adolescence from him. I learnt how to fly a kite and spin a top from him. I remember him teaching me to ride a cycle. I fell down and sprained my ankle and bid good bye to learn to ride a cycle. We used to eat Gulab Jammoons together in other hotels as it was a sweet not prepared in our hotel. We used to go the Public Garden and eat Chilli (miruppa kai) Bajjis there and drink water from the tap. During all Deepavalis we used to wear our new cloths together. After a few more years my father was forced to sell his hotel. My father gave Bhima’s only sister in marriage to her uncle, borrowed money and reached my native place without a single pie. Bhima worked for his uncle for some time. It was at this time that I started going to the university for my M.A. The town where Bhima was living was on my way to university. So I used to meet him during every vacation. Once when I was worried, I remember how we both consulted the street magician to find out solution to our problems. It was at this stage Bhima realized that his uncle was exploiting him and ran away from there to another town. Days were spent in fasting till he got a small job. It was at this time that a family friend of ours started a hotel in a town in Andhra Pradesh. As per the request of my father Bhima got a job there. My father used to finance my education by taking loans. One source was the annual income from Bhima’s small property in my village. Once he was able to sell that property and this money as well as the loan my father had taken from him helped him to purchase a plot in the town where he was working my father also got him married to a girl from the neighboring house. She was a classmate of my sister as well as my play mate during childhood. Bhima and his wife started their journey towards slight prosperity. Meanwhile I had completed my education and was an employed in a small village in Karnataka. Bhima with his wife used to visit us every year. I distinctly remember his stay with us immediately he got married. Poor Bhima used to take his wife for a walk to talk to his wife and my mother who was not used to such things used to shout at him. It was at this time my sister had two small kids. One of them who is a very famous doctor now started calling him Bhima and in our closed family, he remained as Bhima. Bhima’s family grew. He had first a daughter who died when she was baby. Then another daughter was born and later a son. With Bhima and his wife at my side I got married. I remember how with a new bride I travelled to the city I was staying in a car in torrential rain. To add up to this the car broke down on the way. I and my bride reached home in a small car and it was Bhima who brought all our things on a bus. Later my brother got married and both our families grew. Bhima was at our side as when we needed. We always considered him as our own. Bhima was a part and parcel of our little family. His daughter was given in marriage when she was very young. Bhima’s son got a job in far of city and Bhima migrated there. His son got a job in USA and left. Then the greatest tragedy struck Bhima. His wife suddenly and without any reason died. By this time mine and my brother’s children had grown up , The last function attended by Bhima’s wife was the marriage of my daughter. Bhima was inconsolable but things had to go on. His son got married and took his new wife to USA. The greatest tragedy was still waiting to happen. Bhima did not get VISA to visit his son, daughter in law and granddaughter. It was at this time that he became sick. His sickness increased over few years and a few days back he almost lost his memory. Yesterday he breathed his last.
Bhima when he was alive used to entertain all of us by his witticisms. Whenever he was in some place, loud laughter would surely be heard from there. When it was a question of helping any of us, he used to work ceaselessly and without rest .No job was below his dignity for him when he was helping us, whom he considered as brothers and sisters. Without him we all feel a vacuum in our lives. The only consolation is that we ourselves have become old.
Dearest friend, May your soul rest in peace.