(A fictional story)
By Ali Tarab Rizvi (LTSL)
It was 11 a.m. and I was in office when I received a message.
“Kapoor Sir Hospitalized. Suffered a heart attack. Condition critical.”
It was from Rahul. Rahul was one of my school friends and also a close relative of Kapoor Sir.
I called him. He picked up in one go.
“Which Hospital?” I asked.
“Escorts Heart Institute”, he said.
“How did it happen?” I asked.
“I don’t know, it happened in the morning. We rushed him to the nearby Nursing Home where they directed us here.” He told.
“Oh! It’s too unfortunate. I’ll try to come in the evening.” I assured.
“Alright.” He said and hung up.
Kapoor sir, or Mr. Roshan Kapoor, as all knew him, was my class teacher is 12th standard when I used to study in Springfield School in Greater Kailash. Besides, he also taught Physics. Though a very disciplined person, he is very light-hearted which made him very different from the other teachers.
It took me some while to realize that I had a dinner-date with my fiancée, Shehla. It was important as this date was fixed by her, and I promised not to deviate. I called her.
“Hey! How are you?”, came a prompt response.
“I’m fine.” I replied, somewhat puzzled.
“So, you’re free in the evening. Right?” she asked.
“Umm, can I tell you something?” I asked hesitatingly.
“Yes.”, she said.
“A school teacher of mine suffered a heart attack and I’ll have to go to see him today.” I said everything in one go.
“What?” she sounded surprised.
I became nervous.
“Oh C’mon, we’ve planned this long before.” She said disappointingly.
“He was one of my favorite teachers, and it would be bad if won’t go to see him.” I pleaded.
“Okay, then I’m coming along.” She said.
“What? I mean alright. As you say.” I responded.
“Where to come?” she asked.
“Come to Govindpuri Metro Station, I’ll pick you up from there.” I said.
“Ok. Bye” she said and hung up. It could be felt from her tone that she was upset.
I left the office early and reached Govindpuri Metro station around 6:30 p.m. She was already there. In a few minutes, we reached the hospital.
At the reception, I met Bala, Abhishek and Swati. I was surprised to see them. We were meeting each other after a long time. I introduced Shehla to everyone. In the meanwhile, Rahul came.
“How is he now?” I asked.
“His condition is critical. Doctors have put him under observation for 24 hours.” Rahul said.
“Can we see him?” I enquired.
“Only family members are allowed inside ICU, but come with me.” Rahul said.
We all went after him. I requested Shehla to come as well. She agreed.
The ICU was located on the second floor. After climbing a flight of stairs, we all sneaked inside the ICU corridor outside the room where Kapoor sir was admitted. There, from behind two layers of glass, we could see one of the liveliest person lying down motionless. Mrs Kapoor and Neeta (Kapoor sir’s daughter) was sitting beside him.
“He’s on ventilator right now.” Rahul told.
“Eh! So many people inside the ICU? How come you all entered like this? Security!” came a loud and shrilling voice. It was a female attendant on duty.
“Sorry, we’re leaving.” I said and we all tip-toed our way back.
After coming downstairs, we all gathered in the cafeteria. Neeta came down as well.
Rahul ordered burger and coffee for all of us. Each one of us sat quiet.
“I felt as if he’ll stand up right up and say, ‘Stand up and Get out!’“, Bala initiated. “Yeah, the way he ordered you, when you laughed in the middle of his lecture.”, Swati giggled. “It was all because of Ali. He whispered a joke, and couldn’t control myself.” Bala replied in an irritated manner.
From there began a long event of all the school memories, from class tests to the games period, and farewell etc.
In school, we were a group of five namely Abhishek, Me (Ali), Bala, Rahul and Swati, in alphabetical manner. Each one had something unique about him or her. Abhishek was a great football player. I used to sing. Bala was a good rapper. Rahul was known for his computer skills (He knew ethical hacking at that age) and Swati was good in academics.
The only common thing between us was, we used to play pranks on our classmates and a few teachers. Hence, our encounter with Kapoor sir was more than any other of our classmates.
“I remember when he allowed us to play outside, in one of his period few days before the 1st Term Examination.” Abhishek said. “He was very cool. I remember, once I failed to crack a very difficult numerical. I went to ask him. He explained it properly and told that it wasn’t in the syllabus”, Swati told.
“Yeah, bookworm.” Bala said in a low tone.
“Shut up.” Swati said.
“I remember when Bala wrote a rap regarding our Maths teacher, and Kapoor sir got the paper on which it was written.” I told Shehla, controlling my laughter and trying to include her in the talk as well.
“Oh! What happened?” Shehla exclaimed.
“Never mind. Please forget it.” Bala said. “I remember when he shook a leg with Rahul on our farewell. For the first time, we saw him dancing that day.”
“Yeah, and Neeta was also present that day.” I said.
Everyone laughed. Neeta blushed.
“So, that’s how you both met?” Shehla asked Rahul.
All eyes turned towards Rahul.
“We joined the same college afterwards.” Rahul started.
“In the same stream, of course.” I added. “He proposed her in second year. Kapoor sir got to know about them when they were in final year.”
“Then what happened?” Shehla asked curiously.
“In the beginning he was against it, but then Rahul got placement and both of them married 2 years later.” I said.
“How you both met?” Neeta asked me.
“Well, we both met in a cousin’s wedding, and then…..” and it went on.
Around 9 p.m., we left the hospital. All of us exchanged numbers, with a promise to be in contact with each other.
I dropped Shehla at her home.
“I am sorry for today.” I said.
“For what, I liked it.” She said.
“Really?“, I exclaimed.
“You never told me about your friends.” She said.
“Well, now you know them.” I said.
“Good Night.” She said and left.
I came back home around 10:30 p.m. After changing and having dinner, as I retired to bed, I received another text.
“He’s no more.”
It was from Rahul at around 11:30 p.m. I was shocked.
“How? What happened?” I asked on call.
“He lost the pulse. Doctors tried to revive him, but nothing happened.” He said in a heavy tone.
“So, now?, I asked.
“We’ll do the last rites till tomorrow evening.” Rahul said.
I took a leave from the office next day to attend the funeral. Since Neeta was the only child of Kapoor sir, Rahul did all the last rites for him.
Kapoor sir was cremated in the evening around 6 p.m. at Nigambodh Ghat. All of us friends were there (except the ladies). After the fire died down, I tried collecting some ashes from his pyre, but the priest prevented me from it.
It was quite unfortunate how it all happened within the 24 hours, and the loss was unbelievable as Kapoor sir was just 62. Though, a lot of things are inevitable and we have to live with the fact that we all have to leave for the heavenly abode someday. It’s just our choice as to what kind of a person we’d like to be in order to be remembered. Kapoor sir left us, but his teachings will always be there guiding us.
I still remember one of his quotes he’s said to me, “Ali, remember one thing. No matter what heights you achieve, always be humble and ready to serve everyone. Coz great people aren’t remembered for their status, but for their deeds.”
On a closing note, I’d just say, though it isn’t a proper tribute, but:
“Kapoor Sir, We’ll never forget you.”