It was sometime in mid-February only. I had called Mamaji to let him know about my impending visit to Pipra in this Holi to ensure that he remains in Sasaram that time. I also wanted his opinion on the project ‘Over the Years’. With wonderful memory, he could have also added some new information about the family and its individual members. I expressed my wish if he could write down some of his own reminiscences about our family.
I had visited Sasaram and Pipra in 2010. I had met him. Mamaji was getting frail. It was certainly worrying. This time it was for a function organized for Yamuna at Pipra. I arrived on March 16, 2011. On railway station itself my cousin, Alok informed me that Mamaji was in ICU in Varanasi. As per the practice of years I went to his house on Premchand Path in Gaurakshini. Surendra, his youngest son gave me the 4 pages of his written document he had prepared before leaving for Varanasi and instructed him to hand it over to me. I was amazed. Perhaps he was doubtful about his returning back to Sasaram to meet me as he used to do always.
In Pipra, I came to know that there was a little chance of his recovery. On Saturday March 19, we went to Ram Nagar to see him. Ramesh, his eldest son lives there. He was brought there from the Heritage Hospital. We reached in time. Mamaji recognized me with a broad smile on his face. After a few seconds, he started speaking and continued for almost 5-6 minutes. I tried to take the help of Surendra to understand. But neither I nor Surendra could understand anything. But he to his satisfaction had said whatever he wanted to convey to me. He got tired and soon he was quiet. And there was hardly any expression on his face. Krishna arranged a drip feed. He co-operated with no resistance.
We left the place at 4 PM to return to Pipra, about 100 km or so from there. In the early hours of March 20 around 3.30 AM Mamaji breathed last time. A great soul went into eternal rest.
I was not having any blood relation with him from maternal side, but our relation was more intense than one with that. I just liked him and he loved me. Chandramani Mama was the eldest brother-in-law of my eldest uncle Raj Kishore Chacha. I started meeting him as a school boy while going to Kolkata or coming from there with my grandfather. He had started practice as advocate in Sasaram. Pretty soon Mamaji became an icon for me and grew as a father figure for me since the death of my grandfather. Mamaji earned reputation as successful advocate. But the best part was that he was a highly versatile and well-informed person with an opinion of his own on almost all contemporary issues and subjects. As advocate, it was he who pleaded and won the legal cases that got me the right on my maternal property in Bodarhi. Since school days, his Sasaram house has been my transit camp to stop, rest and go whenever I traveled from anywhere outside to Pipra or Bodarhi and back. I kept him involved in everything I did and sought his blessings.
I remember him making a statement on my selections of educational streams and career path at various stages. “You would have gone for arts with humanities; instead you selected to study science after school final. After intermediate in science, you would have chosen medical science, but you decide to pursue engineering. In engineering, you would have picked up civil instead you took mechanical. While getting into professional career, you would have entered government job instead you preferred private.” Today I find some truth in his conclusion but I consider that whatever happened was my destiny. Sometimes, I feel bad about those decisions that were not always mine. But it was through my hard work I could get what I deserved.
I do also remember his advice against building a very big house in village Bodarhi. He was very right. I had to dispose of almost free as I could not have lived even for few days in that village of rogues and uncultured lot. Mamiji died many years ago. And Mamaji was around 87 and lived a totally retired life, moving between Sasaram and Ramnagar near Varanasi. His eldest son, Ramesh has built his house at Ramnagar and lives there. And the youngest one, Surendra continues living in the house that Mamaji built at Sasaram. Surendra is also advocate.
In 1990s Mamaji was with us in Hind Motor for few days when he had to undergo surgical operation. He attended the marriages of Rakesh as well as that of Rajesh.
All the sons of mine loved him and got shocked to hear about the end.
Mamaji has today become the part of history. With him gone, I have lost the last person to whom I could look to seek some advice. He offered it without any reservation. I still remember his exemplary acceptance of Anand’s decision to marry Shannon or of my deciding to sell the landed property of Bodarhi and Pipra and then Salt Lake.
The best homage to Mamaji will be hard work and success in whatever we do in life.
I am sure he was called back as there was dearth of good people over there.