Happy Birthday Kaku

#I wanted to post this tomorrow but somehow couldn't wait any longer since I had written this post two days back. So, it is basically an advance Birthday wish for Kaku.

Have you ever been fond of someone so dear yet who isn't related to you biologically? Whom you meet one fine day through your parents and who becomes an integral part of your life just like your parents, uncles, aunts, cousins etc. Someone, who is far away from you, whom you hardly remember often yet there are times when you remember them fondly and wish they were there. Someone, who is no longer physically present but has etched a never dying image in your mind. Someone, whom you have loved, not just unconditionally, but with as much love and affection as you would your parents.

I have. He is (was) my Soumen Kaku. An uncle, whom I met through my parents. He wasn't related to any of us. He was our family friend's relative's friend. You must be confused by now to what relation did he have with us. He was not biologically connected to us yet he was knowingly or unknowingly making a space for himself in our lives. He was admired, loved and he reciprocated the same to us. He called my father, dada and my maa, Boudi. He regarded my father as his own elder brother. So much so that every decision he made in his life post his meeting us, he would always seek my father's advice. Not just seek even follow what my father would say. He knew that whatever was being said to him by my father is for his own benefit and hence, despite all the confrontations he might have within, he would never think twice before taking the final call as per my father's advice.

I am not writing this post to tell you how he followed my parents. I am here to tell you about this man, whom I still remember every now and then when I celebrate an important day in my life. Not just my life but his life too. December 8, happens to be his Birthday. May 11, happens to be his anniversary. I remember the dates. I remember the man. If only, I could see him too, I wish.

I couldn't even see him one last time. He died in December 2004. Its been a decade now. Yet I remember his Birthday and Anniversary. Though they do not make any sense any more. His wife has remarried, and cut off all her relations with us (who had stood by her in her trying times). She does not even acknowledge us. She is settled in her new palatial house somewhere in Kolkata. There son, who is three months elder to my younger brother, lives with them. His name has been changed as per his "new" father's wishes. However, he has kept ties with us, thanks to Facebook. He remembers all of us. He calls when he can manage to take out time. You know what? He looks exactly like my Kaku. He is HIS replica. In looks, build, and height, he is HIS son. Sadly, neither his name nor his surname bear a resemblance to my Kaku.

My Kaku was smart, handsome and extremely hardworking. To rise from a tiny little hut to a two BHK house in a locality in Mehrauli (New Delhi); he went through all the hardships and worked hard to earn his share of fortune. He was at the peak of his career at Vodafone (then Essar and later Hutch) when one fateful afternoon in 2002 his bike was hit by a vehicle. He was in critical condition for almost 72 hours but came back to his normal self soon after. However, the problem with coming back to normalcy was that he lost his memory, partially. He recovered gradually over a year but faced issues with breathing as there was pipe which had been placed inside his throat to help him in breathing. That was one thing which kept irking him every now and then. Often he would have breathing problem due to excessive cough blocking the pipe. Doctor advised surgery as an option to recover.

My mother and Kaki (his wife) had gone to the doctor that cold evening in December to figure out the expenses for the surgery. On her way, Kaki had received a call saying Kaku was having trouble in breathing and that he was being taken to the nearby hospital. The oxygen cylinder being over at home, Kaku was taken by road to the nearby hospital. Unfortunately, he couldn't survive the walk by road. By the time, he reached the hospital, he was dead. Can you believe it? A man, who had recovered from his injuries, who even got back his memory, died two years after the accident. WHY? Because of the damn lack of oxygen. So precious is Oxygen in our lives, you see?

He died. I was at home. I received a call from someone asking whether the news was true. I refused citing that my mother is there with Kaki. However, by the time I kept the phone down, my mother entered the house howling and crying. My Kaku was no more. I barely got to see him in those last few days. I wanted to accompany my parents to Kaku's home but I was denied saying I wasn't advisable to go. Moreover, I had my exams.

Kaku's death left a weird void in me. Though I have moved on, I graduated, did my post graduation, got married, settled in career, and even had a child; yet his Birthday is something that is yet to erase off my mind. Initial years, I would take a piece of pastry and a candle, light it in front of his photograph and cut it wishing him Happy Birthday. Gradually, I stopped doing that too. However, I could not forget him or his birthday. I could not forget him while I got married. I could not forget him while I got together for some or the other function at home. I could not forget him whenever I saw the other two Kakus, who would frequent our house with him and we all would have a gala time chit chatting, eating, dancing, singing, leg pulling all night.

P.S. I miss you Kaku. Happy Birthday! 
Some of the pictures, which I could gather while I was at home. They all speak of different times. (clockwise from top left) Kaku with Baba and two other uncles; Kaku with me; Kaku serving dinner/lunch on my birthday; The picture at the centre is at a griha pravesh function after his accident, during this time, he had partially recovered his memory.

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