Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | June 5, 2012

Mejojethu

I was a young boy of three or four that time. Mejojethu was possibly impressed when my father informed him that I love books.

Upon meeting me in a family gathering, Mejojethu asked me:

“Ki porish?” (meaning what do you like reading?”). I replied politely, “Jama”. (meaning clothes.).

Now call it my naivety or call it the weakness of Bangla language, “pora” might mean “to wear” or “to study” or “to fall”.

Everyone in our family looked up to Mejojethu (my elderly uncle and second son to my paternal grandparents). For a poor household such as ours, Mejojethu’s success as a brilliant student and an exceedingly good sportsman was no mean feat. To this date, the elders still fondly remember the day when a crowd of people visited our grandparents home to catch a glimpse of “Doctor Babu’s soon who stood first in West Bengal Civil Services examination”.

Mejojethu worked for the West Bengal state government for nearly three decades, I presume. He was known for his dedication and honesty. I feel proud to believe, when I met Mejojethu, I met a man who always seem to speak his mind. He loved his job and never really shied away from accepting the glaring loopholes the systems had.

My father tells me, Mejojethu could have achieved as well as contributed much more academically had he not forced himself to get a job. In fact, often Mejojethu would talk of the stalwarts in Presidency College who taught him and his peers. His academic records spoke for themselves. He was very well-read and appreciated discussions on literature and world-affairs.

All his younger brothers wanted to follow Mejojethu’s footsteps. Either they wanted to be as good as him in studies, or be as good a sportsman as he was or perhaps be as good as him in elocution. Mejojethu’s persona in some way or the other influenced every younger brother of his in some way or the other.

When I was young, I was scared of Mejojethu even though in the occasional meetings I have never seen him scaring or scolding me. He was very polite and spoke with a deep voice. Perhaps his persona came between us. Perhaps as with most of my elderly uncles, he was not very good when it came to communicating with children. However, he was brought much closer to me by the stories that I have heard from my father, my grandmother and my elderly aunt (my father’s and Mejojethu’s sister).

Last week, Mejojethu passed away all of a sudden. He became the first among my father’s siblings to pass away. Though death touches everyone’s life, it is always difficult to deal with it. I could sense the sadness in my father’s voice. I could feel that our family has lost one of its icons. I could just feel that I could have probably known Mejojethu a little better when he lived.

In today’s time, when exhibitionism has taken over most of our lives, Mejojethu’s successes may look very trivial. Neither did he make lot of money nor did he travel in big cars. I am not even sure whether he ever travelled abroad. In fact, every day I meet so called success stories who shout at people, who insult others and to whom money is everything – Mejojethu was nowhere near all this. I have been sad and I continue to remain so thinking the “old-fashioned” nicety slowly going away with passing away of people like Mejojethu.

However, as my father points out, Mejojethu along with my grandparents and Borojethu (my father’s eldest brother) laid the foundation of a family which today has come a long way from its modest beginning. They set the standards with their immense hard work, dedication and honesty for everyone else to follow. His success was in laying down a path for his brothers to follow who in turn helped shape the thoughts of their own children. What more do you need to be remembered as successful?

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