Subhash R Rathi.
A man of umpteen roles and talents.
He was a son, brother, husband, uncle, grandfather, partner, colleague, friend, advisor, confidant and guide to a lot of people.
He was Abba to half the galaxy.
Amazingly, he played each role with equal ease and enthusiasm.
Abba worked hard and partied harder. He could travel for hours, create business strategies, sing and play games, mediate conflicts, talk to kids, recommend books and movies, learn a new skill with humility, counsel acquaintances, plan a vacation, manage budgets, go shopping for shoes or cutlery, converse with strangers, and negotiate land deals - all successfully and seamlessly in a single day. He had a knack of managing all kinds of people and situations with efficiency. I wonder how he did it. 24 hours are not enough for so many of us, and yet he lived every moment and packed as much as was humanly possibly in the span of one day. Every day.
I can't remember the last time he said he was tired or not interested in doing something. Always full of energy and vitality, he never let his work or health get in the way of living life to the fullest. He was the first to arrive and last to leave on special occasions, and perpetually excited to celebrate moments and make them memorable - be it a neighbor's achievement, acquaintance's opportunity or relative's birthday. He was willing to help everyone, and did not hesitate to ask for it either. He was expressive and affectionate, and not shy of being his authentic self.
Right till the end. Which came too soon.
He was not my biological father, but Abba was more than a dad to me. My godfather in countless ways. He instilled in me my love for reading and languages. I get nostalgic when I recall how he used to cut the book fair ads in the newspaper and take me to Institute of Engineers or Crossword where we joyfully immersed ourselves among other bookworms and lost track of time. Without realising it, he subtly gave me tips on prioritization, negotiation and finance management when he told me to only purchase books worth 500 rupees (later 1000) and decide which I wanted more, if I went over budget. He was generous, too, and if I could give a valid reason about my choice, he accepted it, much to my sheer delight and wild sense of achievement.
He was my first employer, who paid me 35 rupees when I worked with the regular staff, building infusion sets in the factory on Karve Road. At the tender age of 6, I felt confident enough to march up to his cabin with an appointment, to formally request an increase in wages. I now laugh with tears in my eyes when I try to imagine what he must have felt at these times, for he never admonished or ridiculed me. Either in person or behind my back. He chose to appreciate and see the positive in every person and circumstance. When I wanted to play on the computer in the only air-conditioned room in the office, the typist told me Abba would hang her upside down if he came to know, and I believed her, because in my opinion, Abba could do anything. He was a rare breed, and the void he has left in our lives can never be filled.
I fondly remember his bedtime stories, my favorite was the one with the Green Ghost. His command over English and his fantastic imagination made those tales come alive, and when he dozed off midway through the story due to exhaustion, he left me craving for more, before I drifted off to the magical land that he painted in my dreams. I am grateful that he was able to gift the same experience to my son, Aarush, who was as deeply connected to Abba as I have been. We are all blessed to have been so close to him, and have these vivid memories we'll cherish for life.
Despite his busy schedule, Abba had time and sincere inclination to help me in my school projects. He encouraged me to pursue higher studies abroad. He was eager that I write a book, since I enjoyed writing poetry, and I regret I did not give him that pleasure. He said he was proud of me, but I think I could have done much more to make myself worthy of him.
He was the first person to ask me what I wanted in my life partner, and I churlishly wrote a string of adjectives and qualifiers that I regarded as important. He never judged or corrected me, but only sought to understand my decisions with genuine curiosity and respect. Be it my choice of career or matrimony, he was consistently supportive, and his insight into human psychology, rich experience and expansive network was a boon on innumerable occasions. He was the one person I could turn to, when I did not know who to turn to. He was phenomenal. And he is no more now.
His final moments were painful, but he left a mark on every single person he met. He never was religious, but he practiced the principles of humanity better than saints. He was not shy of aiming high and indulging in luxury, but he was grounded and practical. He was balanced, yet inspirational. It's hard to accept his absence. I feel lost and desolate, but my soul is calm, knowing he is watching me. His voice and teachings linger in my mind. We shall eternally be grateful for his presence and impact in our lives.
Life ends, love doesn't. Abba is gone, but he lives on in our words and memories. I pray he is happy and healthy in paradise, and continues to bless and guide us.
With all my love,