He was generally known as our quote hanger, a guy who at every turn of life had a quote ready. He was delighted at the mere prospect of being alive and thrilled to the beckoning adventure called Life. “We are the music makers , we are the dreamers of dreams,” he sang.
He believed love was sacred, a platonic emotion where mere physicality has no place. “These hands that have touched Neera’s face can do no wrong.” He believed philosophically that the earth and the sky are eternal lovers. They belong to each other, they’ve looked at each other for aeons. Therein lies the romance, he said, the ultimate love story where lovers are forever destined to keep distance. Once he fell in love desperately and platonically with a beautiful college fresher, Nandini, and approached her tentatively with the symbolic rose and the latest line — “Who are you, Nandini? Haven’t seen you earlier?”
While she just laughed in his face he turned away mortified and wondered aloud, “So young and so untender?” “So young, my Lord and so true” came voices of derisive glee, all around, to his chagrin. Then manfully he recovered, “The wheel of fortune is incessantly turning, which of us can say I shall be uppermost?”
On an evening walk with friends he would say, “Let us go forth, you and I with the evening spread out against the sky.” As he rambled through streets mulling over life’s impending questions he pondered, “Streets that follow like a tedious argument full of insidious intent.” When he passed a funeral procession, he’d stop in respectful silence and mutter to himself in somber tones, “Do not send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”
On a visit to the snake park he saw a golden serpent lying in languorous grace in its cage. On seeing us it promptly disappeared into the interior and our friend burst forth a la Lawrence. “He seemed to me like a king, a king in exile.” There were times when in sheer ennui he declared “the world is too much with us” and left to be “far from the madding crowd”. He’d come back, batteries recharged, with a new vision, his personality having gained strength in solitude and resuming where he left off. “Brave new world”, he beamed at his environs and us and we knew it was him.
Bowing to parental and grandparental pressure, after years of dodging, he agreed to get married reluctantly saying “The will of the fathers will endure”. When we met him last he had hung up his boots after years of accounting and chasing elusive figures. Thick in the middle and thin on the top he had lost none of his penchant for the quote.
“I grow old, I grow old, with the bottoms of my trousers rolled,” he intoned looking at the fraying hems of his trousers. When we asked how he plans to spend the rest of his days he said with stoicism, “Que Sera Sera”.
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