I still remember the first time we met.
This was at the now shut Just Around The Corner at Churchgate thirteen years back. I was nervous. This was a meet the parents moment after all. We sat facing each other. He tucked into a sandwich, over the years I learnt that this was his favourite food. After a while he looked up at me, serious discussions and grilling by my to be mother in law over, smiled and said, “so how is everything else?”
Yes, that is the man who became my father in law for you. One of the most noble, gentle, non-interfering, patient, soft spoken and peaceful human beings that you could come across.
Our first meeting set the tone of our relationship, We would always meet over meals. He would always ask after my well being. See that I was fed well. If it was a special occasion, make sure I got a ‘cover’ (gift envelope of cash). This would be given along with a big kiss planted on each of my cheeks, his moustache tickling me. Followed by a million kisses to smother his daughter. Every farewell signed off by a signature “do come again”.
In the years that I have known him, I had never seen him ruffled, irritated or lose his temper. Whatever life threw at him, the latest being a fracture which confined him to his house, he would bear with equanimity. Soft spoken, patiently playing chess, not questioning why fate would test him. If he had uric acid and the doctor told him to give up his beloved red meat, he would without a protest. If suddenly his sugars shot up and the doctor told him to eschew the chocolates that he just loved after dinner, he would without a protest. If he was told to lose weight he would quietly have an apple for dinner night after night.
He was the dream patient. A loving father. A husband who doted on his wife. He had the sort of spirit which one can only envy. Even when hospitalised after an operation for a fracture we were all struck by how the smile never left his face. Giving us strength even when he was indisposed and when he was the one who actually needed cheering up.
This is not how this story was supposed to read.
Last Sunday was his anniversary and we were supposed to go over to their place in the evening to meet my mom in law and him for dinner. This post was supposed to be about the new Parsi caterer we were checking out that evening. It was supposed to be about the mutton sali boti he had made sure was part of the menu. Kalyan likes it, Kainaz like it, he had said. The truth is that so did he! He liked brown curries and not white ones after all. He had also loved the kebabs our cook Banu had made and which I had taken for him earlier that week. “Delicious kebab. Can’t make out it’s fried. No trace of oil on finger. Thanks for making my lunch edible” he messaged me later. This post was supposed to be about the mutton kebabs we had ordered for the dinner and whether they would given him as much pleasure as the kebabs Banu made. The post was supposed to be about the pulao and daal we had ordered and whether it passed muster for he was not a big fan of rice dishes.
This post was not supposed to be about the untimely and sudden death of the Late Marzban Jal Bilimoria on 24th November 2013 Sunday afternoon.
This post was not meant to be the emptiness he left behind. The memories we all cling to.
This was his favourite spot, this is where he would lie down and talk to me, this is what he told me, this is where he played chess, this is where he listened to music, this is where he played the piano, this is where he would sit and sort papers at home, this is the route he used to follow to the market, this is the bookshop he would go to every Saturday and Sunday earlier, this is the dog he would always pet on the way out, this is how he was marking the days till he could get up and walk again.
Finally all that one is left with is a set of memories unified by that of Buddha-like smile which never left his face.
Rest in peace daddy and keep smiling….you are sorely missed.