Remembering my elder brother

In the early sixties any visitor to the Jalpaiguri district library would have been greeted by the sight of a teenaged boy of average height and wheatish complexion poring over books. He would continue to linger in the library devouring not only wide range of literary works but also articles in famous periodicals such as Time magazine, Readers’ digest and National geographic names largely unknown to the residents of the town at that time- till closing time. The district librarian had to share his inability to satisfy the teenager’s hunger for books with the boy’s father, an eminent

scholar and principle of the local college.
The boy was fondly called TK by his friends. Born into a very cultured and educated family he had many talents. His interest in matters not entirely academic would often drive his father into a fit of rage. His mother would intervene then , assuring the angry patriarch that the report card would tell a different story next year. But TK kept his non- academic interests absolutely alive. And many a time would be found accompanying his physician uncle to call on ailing tea garden labourers if not on a hunting or a photography trip. TK also took keen interest in sports, dramatics and excelled in both. His flair for the

extraordinary had earned him a lot of respect in that smal town despite his young age.
But things changed dramatically after his father’s untimely death and TK realised his responsibilities as the eldest son. He began to devote more time to studies and stood first in the district in the year he took the higher secondary examination. He soon took a degree in mechanical engineering and years later in Industrial engineering. During his long illustrious career, TK was known for holding his own in many international fora. But his sense of enquiry never left him.

After retirement TK contracted a rare heart disease that snatched away his life when only 64. But his ill health could not dim his love for knowledge and many a time, immersed in newspapers and books, he would rue the late advent of internet and other technological innovations. ” I’ve missed so much! Wish we had the technological edge when I was growing up,” he would tell visitors. But questions about his ill health were unwelcome. His easy charm and wealth of knowledge would effortlessly engage young and old alike and almost everyone who had spent time with him during his last days had no idea that TK was dangerously ill.

When he lay lifeless in the library of his salt lake residence, a stream of relations, colleagues and friends poured in to have a last glimpse and to pay their final tributes. As the family waited for TK’s grown up sons to come home from foreign destinations to perform the last rites, I prepared to take a last look at my lifelong hero- my elder brother Tarun Kanti.

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