It's been a long while since I last wrote anything. This by no means means my life was bereft of activity. I think the opposite was the case.
Why I remained silent for nearly a year would be detailed in the days to come, but why I start now has to be elaborated. I lost a dear friend yesterday. He passed away in sleep. While accusing time of being heartless and blaming it for its tragic sense of choice would not ease the burden the chest carries, taking away a man in his prime seems a crime of highest order. I remember meeting Jaidev Majumdar for the first time like it was only yesterday. I was into my first job. I had trouble talking to people, making friends. Like I usually did, I was smoking at the parking lot of my office when Jaidev walked up to me. He struck a conversation, putting me at my ease by choosing encouraging and soothing words. By the time the conversation drew to a close, I had made my first friend at Express. He immediately took me under his wing and began imparting whatever he knew to me.
I thought it was the beginning of a lifelong friendship, until death did us part. I remember his cool, composed and seemingly nonchalant way of conversing. The way he never let me feel an inferior, despite being my senior in both age and designation, made my stint at Express bearable. When he learnt how I used to skip my meals to reach office on time after braving Chennai's brutal and unforgiving traffic, he started taking me out for tea. That he made his wife cook for me as well was a fact that emerged later. That he took the blame for some of my mistakes was made known to me by my seniors. That he seldom raised his voice or scolded me was part of his way of training greenhorns dawned upon me later.
He would often after work take me home, where a sumptuous dinner and drinks would await us. His wife Roma was a great host and as good a human being as any. Here's where I got something that I consider a great gift. He opened the doors to world cinema with his insightful and thought provoking surmise. He would often, holding drinks in one hand and cigarette in another, tell me tales of how his tryst with cinema began and how he lapped up everything that was served to him. Little would have he imagined that his expertise and insight were kindling a passion in me that could not be satiated by anything less than work of art of highest order.
I still remember when his mother died and none of the relatives came, how he depended on me and told others that his entire family is here; he needed no one else to attend his mother's funeral as long as I was there. It's so difficult to remember a person when he is alive that when he turns into a memory, it leaves a wound that cannot be healed by mere wishing. I do wish that we talked more than we did in the past few years. I do wish I met him more often. Now, all these wishes and no means to fulfill them.
It will be difficult to imagine a party without seeing him hold drinks in his hands and say, "Srinath, you are a maverick". You won't be missed Jaidev, for you will never be forgotten.