In school she showed glimmers of brilliance. When we would ask her to be on the Green House’s debating team (we were the captain) she would agree and come prepared. From then on she would call us “captain” and the name stuck. Years later when we met and decided that we school chums should meet she was the most enthusiastic of the lot. From then on we classmates of Adarsha Vidyalaya (Ganga, Ajit, Sanjeevan, Murli, Geeta, Sarsa, Chandra, Ravi, Anil, etc.) would meet every few months for a few friendly tipples and sharing of old jokes. Over the past four or five years we have become a tight-knit community inviting each other for children’s weddings, wishing each other on Onam, Christmas, Diwali.
Every meeting she would come armed with something to eat, cooked by her. She was working for a hearing-aid-manufacturing company and when the boss died he gave the business to her. But there were problems running the business and she gave it up and settled in Coimbatore with her husband Gopal. We, sort of, drifted apart as people living in different places in the sub-continent can only do, not out of will or volition, but from laziness. We thought of calling her many times, but something petty would intervene. Then from Coimbatore she sent us an email that stunned us. Both her kidneys had failed, she informed us, and she was undergoing dialysis.
|At Krishna's Wedding. Sarasa is second from left.|
Then Ganga broke the news: Sarasa Gopal is no more. Few months ago when I met her at Ganga’s son Akash’s wedding she was her usual cheerful self, laughing and joking. After that came her son Krishna’s wedding and we saw her in her gayest mood. “Dhabake khana (eat well),” she told us. We couldn’t because we all looked at the sweetmeats spread before us wistfully and with regret.
All of us have our own problems and are wondering about our futures. The news is not good on the medical front. There is no cure for old age and the wearing of overworked organs. We have abused our bodies commuting and sitting in front of computers. Illness and its attendant problems can strike at any time. When it strikes there are a series of unbelievable discoveries you make about your body. The problem is, despite what they call the advancement of medical science, it remains a science of cutting and joining body parts and treating of the symptoms with antibiotics and pain killers. It disillusions you after some time. This is the plain naked truth from a sufferer himself. We can’t believe she has gone into the vast space yonder and left us all in pain. All we can do is try and be cheerful like Sarasa.
Rest in peace, Sarasa Gopal.